Japan, the land of the rising sun, is renowned for its culture. Browse this article to have a look at some interesting and amazing facts about Japanese culture.

Facts About Japanese Culture

Located in the Pacific Ocean, Japan, the island nation, is an archipelago, consisting of about 6852 islands. The Japanese names for Japan are ‘Nippon’ and ‘Nihon’ which literally translate to “the sun’s origin”; the country is also commonly referred to as the ‘land of the rising sun’. Japan is the world’s tenth largest populated country and the people of Japan, the Japanese, are renowned for their non-confrontational and amicable nature. The country has a distinctive culture where social norms rule the code of conduct at home and in professional situations. Japanese hold their cultural values in high regard which is why they choose to follow many traditional beliefs and rituals, even in modern times. They are well-known for their hard work and dedication which are the two most important factors that led to the resuscitation of Japan after the WWII and the Fukushima Power Plant fiascos. Read on to know amazing facts about Japanese culture. 

Interesting and Amazing Facts About Japanese Culture

  • Japan’s traditional dress is called ‘Kimono’ and it is one of the most easily recognizable traditional garments in the world.
  • Until late 1800s, white teeth were considered ugly and women used to color their teeth with black dyes.
  • Ancient Japanese had a strange concept of beauty; they considered puffy face, small, slit like eyes and plump body as the most beautiful features one could ever have!
  • Japanese greeting involves bowing to each other and there are instances where people get serious skull injuries while greeting each other. There are as many as 24 registered cases of people either losing their lives or getting serious skull injuries while bowing to greet each other.
  • Many traditional Japanese companies conduct exercise sessions in the morning to make their employees active and ready to work.
  • Japanese culture does not allow people to enter their house with shoes. The houses have elevated floors and you need to replace your shoes with slippers while entering a house.
  • You should be careful while offering gifts to the Japanese. Number 4 is associated with death and number 9 is associated with suffering. So, avoid gifts displaying these numbers. Never gift a clock as it symbolizes time running out and scissors are also bad options as they symbolize the end of a relationship.
  • Traditionally, women gift chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day. However, men cannot just accept them with a verbal ‘thanks’; those who have received chocolate, must reciprocate with something and this should be done on the ‘White Day’, which is observed one month after Valentine’s Day.
  • Letters have a significant place in Japanese culture. However, some Japanese picture letters require artistic skills to be represented properly.
  • ‘Chan’ refers to young girls or close female friends; ‘kun’ refers to young boys or male close friends, ‘sama’ for Gods, Buddhas or customers and ‘san’ for adults or other respectable figures.
  • Guests invited for weddings are supposed to give monetary gifts wrapped in a beautifully crafted envelope. This money is usually used to meet wedding expenses and is considered as a thoughtful gesture made to help the family. 
  • Birthdays are important indeed but, some birthdays like twentieth, sixtieth, seventy-seventh, eighty-eighth, ninety-ninth are celebrated with special significance. Twentieth birthday marks a person’s adulthood after which the person is considered as a grown-up and is allowed to smoke and consume alcohol while other birthdays are considered significant milestones in a person’s life for various reasons.
  • Japanese people have great regard for a harmonious life. They are polite and hardworking and are taught to work for universal good rather than personal benefits. Japanese stick to the hierarchy system both in family, society and in business environment. Elder people are respected both in their family and society.
  • Japanese society is now facing problems because of low birth rate. It is now one of the rapidly aging societies in the world.
  • 98.5 % of the Japanese population is composed of Yamato ethnic group.
  • 95% of the Japanese population adheres to a blend of Buddhism and Shintoism. 
  • Japan’s Samurai warriors are renowned for their amazing battle skills.
  • Sumo is Japan’s popular competitive full-contact sport. The Sumo wrestlers are expected to follow a highly regimented life.
  • Japanese cuisine emphasizes the seasonality of food. Some specific dishes are prepared only during a specific time of a year. Seasonality allows them to take advantage of the "bounty of the mountains” as well as the "bounty of the sea” according to the seasons. The first catch of skipjack tunas, known as‘hatsu-gatsuo’, has a great significance in traditional cuisine.
  • Another important characteristic of Japanese cuisine is the use of inedible leaves and branches to garnish the dishes. Maple leaves that float over the water exude coolness. Beautifully cut haran (Aspidistra) and sasa bamboo leaves are often placed underneath the dish or used as separators.
  • Japanese etiquette does not allow you to pass food from one chopstick to another because, if a family member dies, this is how bones are handled after cremation.
  • Ramen noodles are one of the most popular noodles in Japan. The dish consists of boiled noodles served with different types of soups like chicken bone, dried sardines, pork bone, kombu and vegetables like onion, garlic, ginger, mushrooms etc.
  • In Japan, people are very fond of rice and rice products. This is owing to the large production of rice in the country. It being a costal country, Japan also lays immense importance on seafood.
  • Traditional female Japanese entertainers are called Geisha. They always dress up in Kimonos and wear Shimada hairstyle. Some of the members of the Geisha community are very successful businesswomen in Japan.
  • Geishas start receiving training in dance and music at a very young age and they can continue with the profession even in their eighties and nineties. A professional Geisha is expected to continuously train herself even after long years of experience.
  • Origami, a famous Japanese paper folding art, has become a popular craft across the world.
  • Japanese language is the world’s sixth most spoken language. 99% of Japanese people speak Japanese however, it is not popularly used outside Japan.
  • Japanese language has close connections with Altaic languages like Turkish, Mongolian etc. However, its syntaxes have close resemblances with Japonic languages like Chinese and Korean.

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