The Traditions & Values of Japanese Culture

July 26, 2021 6 min read

The Traditions & Values of Japanese  Culture

Traditions & Values of Japanese Culture

 

The Culture

Japan is a prosperous country known for its vibrant and exotic culture. The Japanese culture possesses an ancient history of traditions that are still enforced today. The culture is so fascinating for outsiders, and thus, Japan becomes a massive tourist attraction. If you are looking to experience a lifestyle that differs drastically from any other country, Japan could be the best place for you to visit. Japan has a complex and unique culture inspired mainly through its neighboring countries, such as China. 

Habitation

The Japanese lifestyle is considered peaceful and productive. Traditionally, families in Japan tend to live under the same roof through two or three generations. However, this has drastically changed over the past few decades and only a single-family lives in singular apartments of flats in most cities. Most Japanese architecture is based around wooden elements, and Japanese places of worship, including temples, are also built on wooden pillars. Today, most Japanese houses are quite Westernized and consist of wooden flooring and decor. In urban areas, families usually reside in apartments or villas.

For bathing purposes, the Japanese are primarily fond of the 'furo.' This bath consists of a large amount of hot water, usually in a bathtub. The furo can be pretty relaxing and therapeutic, as it calms your nerves and muscles after a stressful day. The bath is also good at cleansing and getting rid of the toxins inside your skin. There are usually floor-level tables in traditional Japanese homes, and meals are taken while sitting on cushions beside the table. Families also sleep on the floor in 'futon' beds. Although most houses in Japan today are Westernized and beds and chairs are expected, there is still at least one room in each house designed in this traditional manner.

Japanese Fashion and Style

Traditional of Japan | Eiyo Kimono

The fashion in Japan is in a league of its own. Some of the more prominent styles, including the kimono, are featured in media from all over the world. Japan's heritage and unique culture are significant inspirations for fashion development in the West and the rest of the world.

The traditional Japanese clothing for women is undoubtedly the kimono. It is a modest garment consisting of printed robes with a sash at the waist. The kimono is elegant, and it is varied according to formal or casual events. The kimono is relatively comfortable, as it is usually ankle-length and has wide sleeves. It can be accessorized with a heavy sash or embroidered hems if the event calls for it. When wearing the kimono to formal events, most women will accessorize their hair with ornaments called 'kanzashi.' There can be several types of kanzashi. They are all used to decorate the hair beautifully. Apart from this, Japanese women also fix hair combs in their hair that are designed along the edges with flowers and sculptures.

The traditional kimono can take a long time to put on, and it may be uncomfortable in hot weather. This is why the children and women in Japan often wear the informal kimono, 'yukata.' This kimono is lightweight and worn on firework displays and other cultural festivals. However, the kimono is not worn that often in Japan today. Young people, and the working class, tend to favor jeans, suits, pants, and t-shirts.

On top of the kimono or yakata, a traditional jacket called 'hair is usually worn in the winters. The hair is worn on significant events, and it can vary in length. Some touch the thigh, knee, and some are floor-length as well. This depends on the wearer's gender and age. Although haori were only worn by men in the past, they are also worn by women over their kimonos.

On the other hand, is the 'hakama,' a long, flowy garment worn over the kimono. The hakama is fixed into place by several strings that wrap around the body. A knot is made at the back of the waist. A kimono can limit the wearer's movement as it wraps rather snugly around the legs. However, the hakama is an entirely different case, and the wearer can walk or run freely as the garment is loosely fitted. Hakamas are generally worn more often than kimonos, and you will surely see young women wearing them at important events, such as a graduation ceremony. The hakama style can be varied according to the age and nature of the event, but most hakamas are boldly colored and comfortable to wear.

Contemporary Japanese Streetwear

The modern influences of the West undeniably inspire casual streetwear in Japan. Metropolitan areas in Japanese cities are often crowded with young people sporting exotic and flamboyant outfits incorporated with 'yōfuku,' which means Western-style clothing. It is agreed upon that the Japanese street style originated around the 80s and 90s. This clothing style is noted for its vivid and bold aesthetics. The outfits under Japanese street style are designed to reflect energy, youth, and minimalism. They usually include loose, oversized clothing in neutral colors.

The fashion in Tokyo covers major Western trends brought to Japan by celebrities, social media, and pop culture. The Japanese are also known to consume foreign luxury brands, including designer handbags, shoes, and watches. The youth of Japan is often observed mixing clothing styles to give rise to a unique Japanese street style. This includes outfits consisting of vintage skirts and belts, worn with modern chunky sneakers and heels. Western fashion, in general, is prevalent in Japan for day-to-day business. However, the kimono remains an integral part of the culture, and it is worn at special ceremonies and festivals.

As for hairstyles, Japanese women usually tend to go with short, straight, and professional hair. Students and office workers are seen in wavy bobs that fall over their shoulders. The Japanese are also fond of coloring their hair, mainly a medium brown, with golden highlights. Younger people dressed under the Streetwear category have eccentric-looking hair in pink, blue, and red tones. 

What do Japanese People Eat?

Japan's cuisine is a significant tourist attraction and a substantial factor that sets Japan apart from its neighboring countries. The local dishes are superior as they hold ancient traditional tastes and ingredients. The ingredients in Japanese dishes are tremendously difficult to find outside of Japan, making them unique and increasing their grandeur. The Japanese cuisine is based around rice, seafood, vegetables, and miso soup. Japan's cuisine is influenced heavily by that of China, and it is also slightly affected by Western trends, particularly in the fast-food section.

The Japanese word for a meal is 'gohan,' which means 'rice.' However, since rice is an integral part of all meals, 'gohan' refers to any meal. A typical Japanese breakfast often consists of a generous serving of steamed rice, a main course of cooked fish, and a side of vegetables or miso soup. The vegetables can either be pickled or cooked in some sauce. The Japanese tend to emphasize seasonal ingredients and use whatever vegetables are available at the particular moment.

Today, Japan consumes a variety of dishes apart from fish and vegetables. Most of their cuisine went through significant changes, including noodles, bread, pasta, red meat, and fruits. The most prominent dish in Japan, sushi, is a cultural delicacy consisting of a bed of rice topped with raw fish and vegetables. Sushi today is served in pieces of individual cuts of seafood, and it is dipped in soy sauce. Busy cities like Tokyo have a high population of teenagers and young people, also have a large number of fast-food restaurants. Fried chicken, hamburgers, and fries are everyday meals in these areas.

Japanese Etiquette and Customs

When visiting Japan, it is essential to know the social customs and etiquette not to embarrass yourself or those around you. The Japanese are generally a polite group of people, and they are considered very hospitable by tourists. When entering someone's house in Japan, visitors must take off their shoes and keep them in a place called 'genkan,' close to the entrance. Here, visitors can put on slippers or other shoes that are clean to wear inside the house. This practice is carried out to maintain good hygiene, and it is considered incredibly rude not to follow this rule when visiting someone in Japan.

Similarly, the Japanese have a special saying to recite before starting their meal. They say, "itadakimasu," which means, "I receive this food." This statement may seem simple, but it expresses gratitude to whoever cooked and prepared the meal. Once the food is eaten, the saying is, "Cochise sama deshita," which means, "it was quite a meal." The Japanese like their personal space, and bothering strangers or attempting to talk to them is a foolish thing to do in Japan. It is not considered impolite in other parts of the world, and small talk between strangers is every day. However, it is not the same in Japan, and you should mind your own business when you are going out.

 

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Let me know in the comment section if you learned something new and if you even visited Japan. 

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- Jin Miyamoto

 

 

 

 

 


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