Features of the Japanese mentality.
Sushi, kimono, anime, sumo-these words have long been in common use and have become well-known, but what else do we know about the distant Land of the Rising Sun? For many centuries, Japan remained closed to tourists and travelers, and when it finally opened its doors to everyone, it surprised the world with a lot of interesting, original and even a little strange customs and traditions. However, if you are going to visit Japan, you can not do without knowledge of these traditions-arm yourself with the necessary information!
Do Japanese people wear kimonos?
The first thing that comes to mind when you mention Japanese traditions is the national dress – kimono. This outfit went out of everyday use at the beginning of the twentieth century, but still has not lost its relevance. There are a number of events where you can not do without a kimono: the first visit to the temple with a newborn, a coming-of-age ceremony, a wedding, and so on. The outfit is tied with an obi belt and is complemented by traditional shoes-zori or geta sandals . The length of the kimono, the width of the sleeves and the color will tell you a lot about the social status of the owner, age and occupation. Thus, the kimono in Japan is not limited to the status of national clothing, but can also serve as a kind of business card.
Before you try to understand the signs in Japan, tourists should know one interesting nuance of the Japanese language – it uses as many as three types of writing! In addition to the kanji hieroglyphic script , which was once borrowed from China, there are two alphabets in Japan – katakana and hiragana . The most interesting thing is that all three types of writing are often used mixed up, and in some newspapers and books there is still a traditional right-to-left spelling. In addition, occasionally words can be transliterated in Latin, this type of writing is called Romaji . As you can see, Japanese is not for weaklings!
A little for the soul: poetry and theater.
Japanese literature has given the world such big names as Akutagawa Ryunosuke and Haruki Murakami, but it is no exaggeration to say that it began to move around the world with the advent of haiku (another name is haiku). This traditional Japanese poetry appeared in the XVI century and at the beginning had an expressive folk connotation. Haiku reveal the inner experiences of the poet, subtly intertwined with the phenomena of nature and the surrounding world. Such poems are usually read during a tea ceremony or a traditional marriage proposal, and they are taught to write them in elementary school!
A vivid impression is left by the traditional Japanese kabuki theater . The genre was born in the XVII century and has gained a lot of fans thanks to a combination of complex costumes and no less impressive makeup. In kabuki performances, dancing, music, and singing are lavishly spiced with drama and symbols hidden in every detail. Such performances remain popular in Japanese theaters, disrupt full houses and make actors famous.
Modern culture: anime and J-pop.
More interesting than Japanese traditional art, for some it may be that modern mass culture. After all, many people who fall in love with Japan as a result and plan a trip there start with manga (the Japanese version of comics) and anime. Most full-length anime and TV series are based on well-known manga that have been released for years, are sold in Japan at every turn, and appear in translation around the world.
The famous anime studio “Ghibli”, headed by the legendary director Hayao Miyazaki, made a lot of efforts to achieve such popularity. It was here that such anime masterpieces as “Gone with the Ghosts” and “My Neighbor Totoro”were created. In Tokyo, you can even visit the studio museum, located in Inokashira Park, where you will get to know the characters of Japanese animated films closer. Not to mention the fact that often right on the streets during one of the cosplay festivals you can meet the characters of “Naruto”, “Death Note” and other famous and not so anime.
A separate topic is Japanese music. It is believed that the golden days of j-rock (j-rock) are already behind us, and j-pop (j-pop) is gaining more and more popularity – a modern genre that has penetrated into all spheres of life in Japan. Its typical representatives are the so-called boy bands and girl bands with young bright guys or girls who perform simple light songs, accompanying them with dances. J-pop stars are everywhere: on advertising posters, in TV shows, movies, video games, so you will definitely see them during your trip to Japan!
Norms of behavior and religion.
In Japan, a surprisingly peaceful combination of strict norms of behavior and fairly free mores. On the one hand, in this country, more than anywhere else, the products of the flirt industry are easily accessible, adult establishments are common, and the entertainment and media industry does not shine with modesty. On the other hand, humility and honesty are highly valued here, and hard work and politeness are considered almost the main advantages. Tokyo remains one of the safest metropolitan areas, with one of the lowest crime rates in the world. At the same time, such norms of behavior are the result of mentality rather than religion and harsh laws.
The most widespread in Japan is the ancient religion of Shintoism, which combines elements of Buddhism, magic and totemism. According to Shinto beliefs, there are about 8 million deities in the world, and everyone can join their number after death. At the same time, it is a very democratic religion, without strict canons and regulations, which is completely separate from the state and does not affect secular traditions. There are many Christians and Buddhists in the country, and often there is a double faith, when a person adheres to Shinto rites, but also attends a church or a Buddhist temple.
Nuances of etiquette.
The exceptional politeness inherent in all the nations of the East has been brought to a new level in Japan. Even in communication, the Japanese use four levels of politeness: conversational, respectful, polite, and very polite. One of the least used words in the speech of the Japanese is “no”, they avoid rejections and objections in every possible way. Whatever you ask for, be prepared that you will not be refused outright, trying to find a solution.
In Japan, it is customary to speak affably and with a smile, but the so-called “familiarity”, including too short a distance between the interlocutors, is not accepted and can cause outrage. Direct eye contact and active gestures are considered impolite. At a meeting, it is customary not to shake hands, but to bow. You need to bow in return as many times as you were bowed to, otherwise your behavior will be regarded as disrespectful.
Traditions of the feast.
A feast in Japan is a special ritual, not just a meal. Each dish on the table has its own place and is served in a specially designed dish for it. Before eating, you should wipe your face and hands with a damp, warm osibori towel . The chopsticks are placed on a special hasi-oki stand, and waving them around while eating, crossing them, or sticking them in rice is considered bad manners. Soups should be drunk, not eaten with a spoon, and savoring hot noodles ( udon or ramen), you can, and even preferably, smack. Drinks at the table are poured by the youngest, but it is not customary to pour yourself, so after all, he must put the bottle down and wait until his glass is filled by the oldest.
While eating, it is worth praising several times how delicious everything is – this is considered another manifestation of politeness. By the way, in restaurants and cafes, it is not customary to leave tips – they can be regarded as an insult: it is believed that paying exactly on the check, you remain on an equal footing with the seller, and leaving extra money, you try to put yourself above and devalue the service provided to you.
The tea ceremony remains one of the main elements of Japanese culture. The ceremony is called tado and is practically elevated to the rank of art. It is held in the Chashitsu tea house, and the dishes are selected in the same style. Before the start, guests drink warm water and only then go to the tea house. Before the threshold, they are met by the master of the ceremony and helps to pass the ablution ceremony-gives water to wash their face, hands and rinse their mouth.
Then you should try light snacks, and only after that it comes to making tea. The host of the ceremony must prepare tea in silence, so there is an almost meditative silence in the house. The tea is poured into a special bowl, and then boiling water is added to it and stirred. In several stages, everything is brought to the desired consistency. First, the host bows and serves tea from one cup to each guest in turn, from the oldest to the youngest, and only after everyone has tasted it, pours each cup. For the tea ceremony, you need to be patient, but the impression it leaves is really new and incomparable.
Family and society.
According to statistics, a third of Japanese families are created as a result of matchmaking and viewing, which were organized by parents. Families are traditionally patriarchal. As for social relations, the main principles are trust and responsibility. In Japan, parents are not afraid to let a six – year-old child go to school by himself-if necessary or in case of danger on the street, the first person they meet will help him.
On many streets and in shops there are special stands with umbrellas – if it starts to rain, you can just take any of them. When the rain stops, leave the umbrella in the nearest stand. But there are no garbage bins on Japanese streets – the garbage should be taken home and sorted.
You can talk about the traditions and national characteristics of Japan for a long time, but what is there, endlessly – this country has too many differences from Western culture. Therefore, the best way out is to go and see everything for yourself!