Curious Facts of Japanese Culture Worthy of Admiration
Are western people really so different from the Japanese? It’s easy to conclude that yes, mainly because the Japanese society is characterized by a strong framework of values sustained in peace, respect for others, efficiency and order. Visiting Japan can be a very enriching experience for anyone, especially for a young kohai. Anyway, Japan is a very special country. But not all the topics that we in the West hemisphere attribute to the Japanese are accurate: in a society of 128 million people, you’ll find everything. Here you’ll find some curiosities that will draw the attention of any rookie traveler who arrives in this fascinating, ancient and yet, unknown country:
Silence and Order
The Japanese are very quiet and orderly. This is something that can draw a lot of attention for any foreigner. As for example, in the subway or in the train, it’s forbidden the use of mobile phones to make any kinds of calls. They use them, yes, but they speak in a volume that doesn’t disturb others. When it comes to order, they like to queue. That’s what people say about them. But the most important thing is that they respect the order of the queue. It’s not uncommon to go walking down the street, stopping and seeing the person behind you stop while they wait for you to continue the march. They are not dodging obstacles.
Respect Other People’s Property
If there’s one single thing you should know about this ancient country is that in Japan it is in bad taste to eat in a restaurant and leave a tip; It is unusual and strange, almost insulting. If the account is 297 yen and you leave the three of the change on the plate the waiter will follow you to the street to remind you that you have forgotten something that is yours. In a city like Tokyo, with 13 million inhabitants (36 counting the metropolitan area), people leave bicycles on the street at night without a chain, at most with a simple wheel locker (yes, of those that open with a blow). The next morning, the bicycle will be in the same place where its owner left it the night before.
The Collective Goes Over the Individual
A clear of example of this is waste management; in neighboring communities is very strict. The organic waste is taken out every day, but the recycling is taken once a week according to code; for example, Tuesday, paper; Wednesday, plastics and packaging, etc. If you skip it, your neighbors will -angrily- let you know. Another fact is that when a Japanese citizen is sick, he or she will wear a mask to go outside so they can avoid infecting others, also, smoking is prohibited in the streets and there are specific places to do so. Even to own a vehicle in Japan you must show that you have a place to park it. All this to avoid disturbing others.
Attachment to Their Roots
Japanese people have a deep attachment to their culture. Anyone can forget that this is an ancient culture especially because temples, pagodas, and castles appear to be newly constructed because they are so well preserved. Also, the Japanese calendar is full of bad and good days. They are very superstitious. For instance, the nails are not cut at night and the bed is never oriented to the north. And the list can go on and on.
As you can see, Japanese culture is rich, interesting and pretty amazing, approaching it is a good thing if you’re into martial arts, maybe learning more about the origins of these practices can help you to comprehend and embrace better the philosophy around the sport.