Most Japanese people are descendants of migrants from all over the Asian continent. China influences most of Japan’s culture and traditions. In addition, Japanese culture and traditions have commonly been influenced by the Western world since the last century.
What characterizes the Japanese?
Japan has an apparently homogeneous society but it is composed of nationalities other than Japanese. Indeed, the society is composed of about 1% of Koreans and Chinese. Moreover, 5 to 10% of the total population comes from the Philippines and Brazil.
The family plays an important role in Japanese society. In fact, respect for elders is of paramount importance to the Japanese. In addition, there is a social hierarchy that is a bit stricter than in Western society.
As mentioned in one of our previous articles, education and academic achievements are also essential in Japanese culture and tradition. Similarly, the importance of hard work and perseverance is instilled in individuals from an early age and remains ingrained in their mentality into adulthood. Another basic element of Japanese culture and tradition is politeness and the duty to maintain a respectable image in society.
Japanese people tend to conduct themselves in a more formal and cordial manner than other societies. They commonly keep their personal problems in a private circle and avoid embarrassing situations in public. In addition, Japanese people rarely say no directly. Also, a yes does not always imply acceptance. Not only that, but Japanese people do not directly ask questions or give direct orders.
Japanese traditions and culture
In Japan, younger generations are more influenced by Western culture while older generations remain attached to traditional culture and traditions. Here are some important facts that all foreign students should know:
- People in Japan bow to each other in a friendly manner. However, they are familiar with the Western handshake.
- It is inappropriate to introduce yourself to people. Wait for someone else to introduce you.
- As another way of expressing respect, the Japanese add the suffix -san after first names. Also, they use the word “Sama” as another form of respect and admiration.
- You should never enter a room wearing your shoes. When you enter a Japanese house, you must first take off your shoes and put on the slippers that are available near the door. But you should commonly take off your shoes before walking on the tatami mats, otherwise, you will offend your hosts.
- Non-verbal communication is very important in Japanese society. You should therefore make sure that you use the appropriate facial expression, intonation, and body language for each context.
- The elders of a group of people are always the ones to whom attention and respect are directed. Consequently, you must always serve them first as a sign of respect.
- You should never leave a tip. It is considered an offense in Japanese culture.
- People in Japan usually wear surgical masks in public places to prevent the spread of infections during the flu and infection season.
What are the traditions in Japan during festivals?
Festivals are an integral part of Japanese culture and traditions. Matsuri – festivals in Japanese – are closely related to Japan’s religious beliefs and agrarian past. And if you look at the Japanese calendar, almost every month a major cultural event is celebrated.
In addition, each of Japan’s 47 prefectures has specific festivals that usually take place in summer. These festivals are part of the way the Japanese celebrate the change of season and show their appreciation for new beginnings.
Japanese people participate in these festivals by wearing yukata and sandals. Festivals in Japan are usually characterized by large processions and festivities in local markets. Some of the most famous festivals include :
- Awa Odori in Tokushima, which takes place during Obon week in August.
- The Gion Festival in Kyoto is the largest parade in Japan since the 800s.
- The Nebuta festival in Aomori, in the north of Japan, is dedicated to the ancient warriors of the country.
- Tanabata in Sendai, during which 3,000 colorful traditional Sasakazari decorations are displayed throughout the city and surrounding shopping streets.
These festivals are the best way to fully experience authentic Japanese culture and traditions. So don’t miss the matsuri celebrations if you have the opportunity during your stay in Japan!
International students in Japan are allowed to work full-time in the summer. And festival seasons are a great way to enjoy the country’s vibrant culture while earning money!
Working hours and weekends in Japan
- The official working hours for banks and the civil service are from 9 am to 5 pm.
- The weekends are Saturday and Sunday.
- Post office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. They are closed on Sunday.
- Public schools are open in the evening in some areas. Sunday is the only day off.
- Universities are often closed on Saturday and Sunday.