In Japan, there are many “Japanese Cultures” that can only be experienced here.all of these great aspects of Japanese cultures has been passed down from generations to generations.
They have all been a part of Japanese people’s mind, a spirit of the Japanese people.
Let me introduce to you some of Japan’s unique cultures.
Sumo wrestling is a traditional Japanese sport and have been getting a lot of attention from outside of the country as well. Taking pride in being a Japanese sport since the 1400s, it is still going strong till the day. Two rikishi (Sumo wrestlers) that have gone through intense training will clash in the ring, putting all of their training to use.
Originally, based on the traditional Japanese religion of “Shinto”, sumo was a large event where prize money was on the line. There were many regions in Japan where sumo would be taken place during festivals. Many people believed that the winner would affect the profit of harvest or the amount of fish that would be caught that same year. It had became a custom to the Japanese people.
Most of Japan’s sumo wrestling events are taken place at Ryogoku Kaikan in Tokyo and there are 3 main events of the year. Hatsu Basho, is a tournament taken place on New Year’s day. Natsu Basho, is taken place during the beginning of summer (around May). And the last tournament of the year which is the Aki Basho tournament, taken place in the beginning of Autumn (September).
As of January, 2017, Kisenosato Yutaka had become the first yokozuna of Japanese descent since Wakanohana in 1998, a feat that has not been made in 19 years.
Boiling water, to make tea, and to serve the tea in a traditional Japanese manner, or “Sado” has been a part of Japanese culture for a very long time. The famous Sen No Rikyuu have often called the tea ceremonies, the “Sukiya style”.
Sado is often called a work of art as visitors from outside of the country can experience the hospitality of Japanese culture. Unifying industrial arts and food culture, it represents the meaning of Japanese culture.
In Sado, there is a term called “Ichigo-Ichie” which means “once in a life-time encounter”. It means to cherish people coming together and to have a special moment with one another through the Way of Tea.
Flower Arrangement (Kadou)
This tradition first began when people offered flowers before the Buddha and became mainstream during the Muromachi Period (1336-1573). It is believed that even grass, trees, and flowers have the same life as human beings, so they expressed the beauty of life through the arranging of flowers.
The basis of Kadou was to express the beauty of these flowers no matter which angle you look at it from, looking at it from the front is said to be the most beautiful.
When Japan entered into the Edo Period (1603-1868), arranging flowers had spread to the masses. Flower arrangement techniques has primarily been passed down through teachers to students, and Ikebana, Ikenobo, and Sogetsu were some of the famous styles of flower arrangements during that time. Of course, they are still taught to this day.
Kimono is a type of Japanese traditional clothing that has been admired throughout the whole world. It is said that it was used during the Jomon Period, made by vegetable fibers.
Kimono is viewed as the “clothes of Japan” and is still worn today by Japanese women during important ceremonies. The designs of Kimono’s vary based on the event. Young Japanese children wear these traditional clothing during “Shichigosan”, which celebrates the child turning aged 7, 5, and 3. Next use of the Kimono is during the coming-of-age-day, where young men and women who had become 20 years old gather up to the occasion. For the most part men wear suits while the women wear long-sleeved Kimonos. A type of Kimono, called Hakama is also used during entrance and graduation ceremonies of schools and even weddings, which are worn by both sexes.
Kimono’s are said to be heavily popularized by Geisha, Maiko (Dancing girl), Kabuki (classical drama), and Nihon Buyou (Traditional dance) which are all connected to the Japanese traditional religion of “Shinto”. Wearing a Kimono is seen as a very big deal here in Japan.
Food culture in Japan can be summarized with everyday meals, Gozen (special meals), Kaiseki Ryouri (set of dishes served on an individual tray) and other various meals are called “Japanese Foods”.
The term “JapaneseFoods” are often said to be food eaten by daily by Japanese people, Gozen (often luxurious meals), and Kaiseki Ryouri (set of dishes served on an individual tray).
To have a nutritious foood, Japanese people believe that having one soup with 3 side dishes are necessary. These meals are not only delicious, but they are very appealing to the eye and have been getting attention from all over the world. Foods have a certain season when they taste the best, so there are many meals based around that certain season.
Japan has meals for certain seasonal events as well. Nanakusa-gayu which is served in Spring, Amazake (sweet sake) and Toshikoshi-Soba (New Year’s Soba) on New Year’s.
The first thing to come in your mind when you think about Japan is manga. Often called the “Sacred Land” for Manga lovers, Japan is home to the city of Akihabara which is a must-see travel destination for all tourists.
When it comes to Japanese manga, there is no set rules or boundaries which makes manga very unique to other forms of media. Very delicate when writing about their characters psychological descriptions, it makes the readers empathize and immersed in the world of manga. Manga also has a unique style of humor which is loved by many.
Although kid-friendly manga titles such a Doraemon and Atom Boy are very popular outside of the country, manga features many titles with mature themes such as NARUTO and BLEACH, which is only unique to Japanese manga.
Karaoke started to become very popular in the mid-seventies.You can gather with friends, families, and even coworkers to sing and dance to your favorite songs. It has become a favorite passtime for many Japanese people.
For the past few years, these Karaoke machines has evolutionized to have the latest and newest songs, a harmonize feature to alter your voice, and a grading feature which helps analyze the way you sing in points. It is very common to go to Karaoke after a drinking party and has become the norm in Japanese society.
In recent years, instead of gathering with friends to go sing, “Hitokara” which is an abbreviation for going to the Karaoke alone has become very popular. Many customers go alone to release stress or to just improve on their singing.
Shodo – Japanese Calligraphy
Shodou is often said to let out one’s inner feelings through calligraphy.
With the brush and ink, people artistically express themselves through Kanji and Hiragana. Finding balance within the writer’s brush movement and the amount of ink used to write these Japanese characters are what makes Shodo so fascinating to many people.
Almost all elementary and middle school students in Japan have learned how to write characters through Shodo. Common examples would during the New Year where Japanese people would make a goal for the upcoming year through Kanji. Nengajou, which is a New Year’s card that is sent to friends and family is usually written through Shodo, so learning how to write beautifully is ingrained into the Japanese’s livelihoods.
Temples and Shrines
Temples are not exclusive to Japan, as it was adopted by China and Buddhism.
On the other hand, shrines are based on the Shinto religion of Japan and is often centered around Japan and even some parts of Hawaii.
However, Torii, which is a Shinto shrine archway is said to be unique to Japan with Hiroshima’s Itsukushima Shinto Shrine and Kyoto’s Inari Shrine being a favorite tourist location from people of all over the world.
There are over 1000 vermillion-colored Torii lined up in these two locations, so it is a must-see tourist spot in Japan.
Japanese, or often called “Yamato-Kotoba” is used for everyday conversations in this country.
Although Japan has a standard language, depending on the regions of Japan comes different types of “dialect” where speech patterns and intonation varies.
In Japanese, there are different words but with the same meaning. Accents and nuances are often hard to catch if you are not native speaker. Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji are used to express words, which is unique only to the Japanese language.
The uniqueness of Japan and it’s culture can still be experienced in Japan today. Valued highly by many foreigners, to actually feel and understand the Japanese culture is a once in a lifetime experience.