The Japanese culture dates back to 10,000 BC with many fascinating periods and events. They span from the days of the samurai and shogun, to 1945 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Although a bomb would be a devastating blow for any country, rapid industrialization and aid from the United States brought Japan to the forefront of world affairs. In the following moments I will attempt to highlight some of the many unique characteristics that Japan has woven throughout its nation. This will include the climate, people, religion, customs, and business protocol. Anyone seeking further information on topics I was unable to cover may wish to refer to my sources “The Insight Guides to Japan” or “The Berlitz Pocket Guides Japan.”
Japan is roughly the size of California with a population of 120million Japanese, 670,000 Koreans and 130,000 of other nationalities. The capital of Japan is Tokyo and the government is a parliamentary democracy, made up of elected representatives. The country is divided into 47 prefectures, each with a governor. The climate in Japan is generally mild although the country does stretch over 1,700 miles, so there is some variation according to region and season. The rainy season lasts from mid June to mid July followed by six weeks of extreme heat and humidity. September brings the wind and the rains and often some typhoons . The remainder of the year is mild in the 50’s, 40.s, and 30,s until March when the temps climb back up eventually to 70,s in mid summer.
Japan is a wondrous country filled with a rich cultural heritage and many customs that are different from those in the western world. The customs in Japan have created many do’s and don’ts that make travel to Japan very interesting. Many Americans have been guilty of cultural ignorance when in Japan..in Japan the religions of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Shinto exist. The Japanese have incorporated shrines into their homes enabling them to worship on their own time and own terms. The Japanese visit ancestral gravesites ritually and have a custom of honoring their dead. In fact each year in August the Japanese take time off for paying homage to there dead. “ People flock to the cemeteries to visit ancestral graves, praying and sometimes even asking for guidance in their lives.One of the social customs in Japan is drinking sake during the winter. This legendary alcoholic beverage is made from rice. Sake represents the glory of winter and the traditions of Japan. Another traditional drink ofJapan is hot tea which is customary year around unsweetened and without milk. Anyone visiting a Japanese or Hibachi restaurant will be served tea automatically, however there is no need to worry about the tip as for hotels and restaurants already add a 10 –15 % service charge to the bill.
Other social customs in Japan include seating for meals on the floor and enjoying many cultural delights, one being raw fish “sushi”. It is customary to remove your shoes when entering a building, to bow upon greeting, to respect your elders, and to give gifts of money on special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and funerals.Valentines day is an American holiday, however in Japan this day has been marked as an opportunity for women to give chocolates to men that they like, which emphasizes traditional Japanese culture of inferiors giving gifts to there superiors. Traditionally it has been the role of women to serve the men, which is ever so slowly beginning to evolve. In Japan there is a lot of emphasis put on respect and honor. Rather than saying Mr. or Mrs., San is put after the name for respect.Those whom do business with the Japanese must understand that the Japanese business persons have certain customs and practices that include the exchange of business cards, the bow, gift giving, as well as the types of conduct during business meetings, improper conduct could jeopardize the outcome of any future business with the Japanese.Japanese students are required to clean both their schools and there neighborhoods.
One negative characteristic in school is the lack of individualism and freedom of choice with enormous pressure placed on youth to excel academically. Students recruited for white-collar jobs while still in the university are hired directly after graduation usually remaining with the same company throughout their career! Most Japanese incorporate a morning exercise session for all employees. Having awareness of the Japanese culture is not only important in Japan, its also important for areas frequently visited by Japanese. One area in the United States is Honolulu, Hawaii. Honolulu has a tremendous amount of Japanese tourists and businesspersons there, for they have signs in both English and Japanese.Although the Japanese have fallen in love with the Americans game of baseball they have never lost touch with their true love of sumo . 6 major tournaments lasting 15 days each are held every year. Although I was able to touch on several aspects of the Japanese society, perhaps you shall take with you a new insight into the culture, as well as new or refreshed understanding of such cultural norms as bowing instead of handshake, taking shoes off when entering a building, and putting San after a persons name as a show of respect. The focus of the for mentioned material was provided as to illustrate a brief glimpse into a colorfull culture, filled with the unique characteristics of the Japanese people, there climate, religion, customs, and businessprotocol.