Japanese Culture

Japanese culture fascinates and intrigues many people around the world, beckoning them to visit this interesting country. Very few other cultures in the world have such unique conduct, born of ancient beliefs and practices evolved over time into a rare, 21st-century lifestyle. The foundations of Japan as it is today directly stem from Japanese religion, which had an enormous influence on everyday life in ancient Japan up to recently. Social manners, customs, beliefs, relationships with nature, and Japanese music all fuse together, illustrating a harmonious society. Influences from North America, Europe, and Asia can all be seen in Japanese culture.

The Japanese language is an integral part of the country's culture. The roots of Japanese language date back to 252 A.D., where there is a confirmation of the lexicon in an official Chinese document. The language reflects the status of both the listener and the speaker as well as the subjects of conversation. Japanese contains a huge array of "loanwords," words taken from other languages, especially Chinese. This concept of borrowing from other cultures is common throughout Japanese culture in general, as Japan tends to assimilate the best of what the world has to offer and makes it distinctly its own at the same time.

Japanese religion focuses on two ancient belief systems: Shinto and Buddhism. Most Japanese don't practice one or the other exclusively, rather, they take a combination of the two and practice them both. In Japanese culture, religious freedom is apparent, and Christianity, Sikhism, Ryukyuan, Islam, and other religions are fully accepted. Life-cycle events—such as births, deaths, and marriages—are marked by visiting a Shinto or Buddhist shrine. In Japanese religion, festivals mark many important religious periods and are celebrated by a visit to a temple or shrine. Religion also plays an equally important part in ancient martial arts.

Japanese music is another excellent indicator of culture and what influences it. In history, traditional dances in Japan date back to the Edo period, in which the customary Odori dance began. Mai is a traditional dance originating in Japan's western region, and is another historical dance. Odori was born out of the famous Kabuki plays. Mai, influenced by Noh plays by performers wearing intricately carved masks is more intimate and performed in private rooms rather than in large crowds on stage. So-ran Bushi is a modern-day dance that has traditional roots. It is a fusion of traditional movement blended with a modern rock music beat.

Japan culture is laced with religion, history, art, poetry, tradition, and people. It is a culture that is always changing while seemingly staying the same. Traditional facets such as onsens, tea ceremonies, flower arranging (ikebana), and historical theater are always present, but interwoven with modern technology, modern rock, and some of the most advanced electronics in the world. There is an endless mutation to Japanese culture that is steadfast and exhibits the signs of being extremely advanced. Respect for others, and concealing obvious individuality is key in Japanese society.

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