Japanese Traditions and culture

There are many customs in Japan that if unknown, can lead to travellers to offending without the realisation of doing so. If you are considering travelling to Japan in the future, there are a few basic customs you should be aware of, and many others you may wish to investigate. Here a few of the most common.

Language

The national language in Japan is Japanese. This is spoken throughout the country and it identified as “Kanbun”, or Old Japanese. The language originated in China as early as the 8th century and initially was written using Chinese letters. That changed in the overtime as the Japanese developed their own language and writing.

Culture

Japanese culture is unique due to its early history being closed to outsiders. In the late 1800’s Japan adopted a more global position and began to adopt cultural practices from other parts of the world. With time, its culture began to see western influences relating to its food, lifestyle and art.

Religion

There are only two religions in Japan: Buddhism and Shinto. The original and most cemented of the two is Shinto, however, in the late 6th century, Buddhism found its way into the country. Today almost 40% of the population identify themselves as Buddhists, while less than 4% identify as Shinto.

Celebrations

The largest celebration in Japan is the New Year. There are additional celebrations throughout the year in the spring and summer that are for gods of the sea, gods of the land and Matsuri. These are highly regarded by the population and widely attended.

Sports

Sumo Wrestling is the most identifiable sport in Japan, and the one they are most known for. However, judo and karate are other popular sports as is rugby, soccer and baseball. While other sports are popular, Sumo is considered their national sport and is most revered.

Family Structure

Traditional Japanese family structure is called “Kazoku.” This compromises of a father, mother and children. Families traditionally live with their elders however as Japan adopts a more modern culture, the younger generations are shying away from this. To live in more”modern” living arrangements.

Cuisine

Japanese cuisine is unique and focused mainly on fish. The country is the top importer of fish in the world averaging 12% of the world’s yearly fish trade. The most notable Japanese fish dish is sushi, made fresh daily from a variety of different fish, seaweed and rice.

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