Japan exhibits a multifaceted culture, with ancient traditions. Although it has roots in Chinese culture, geographical distance has allowed Japan to build a differentiated cultural model, whose brands persist even with the dynamic characteristic of the people to adapt to technological developments.
The Japanese have religious syncretism as a hallmark. Their main beliefs are rooted in Shinto and Buddhism, but they coexist with other religions, even with Christianity.
Unlike what happens in the West, in Japan, there is no religious preaching and religion is not seen as a doctrine, but a way of life. It is considered a moral code, a way of life and is so ingrained that it is not distinguished from the social and cultural values of the population.
Introspection also marks religion in Japan. Prayers are not public and, even less, are part of official ceremonies. Worship is not common among Japanese people. Life (birth, weddings, birthdays) and death (funerals) rituals are a common part of life in Japan.
It was not always so, however. Until the Second World War, the Japanese emperor was considered a true god. The conflict broke this belief system and, after the economic recovery, religion defines the people’s spirituality.
Read more about Shinto and Buddhism .
Japanese gardens demonstrate the influence of Chinese culture
Among the sights that demonstrate the essence of Japanese culture are the gardens, whose culture was imported from China around 600. The gardens exalt the Buddhist religion, although they have a functional character.
More recently, this tradition would have started in 1192, when a Chinese Buddhist monk, Eisai, arrived in Japan. The ceremony imposes ritual on the preparation of the infusion based on powdered green tea.
The ceremonies with the demonstration of Japanese culture would have started between 1333 and 1573, led by monks in the gardens designed only for rituals.
Between 1568 and 1600, the ceremonies already had adornments such as lanterns, trampolines and arch bridges built in the gardens considered icons of Japan.
The Japanese live under strict codes and many are of such subtlety that few foreigners could notice or understand.
Among the most common habits that lead to knowledge of Japanese culture is the imposition of a curvature in the back.
With their backs bowed, the Japanese say hello, say goodbye, show gratitude or regret. Bend your back means respect. Formal reverence soon leads to the image of the Japanese people.
Another symbol that soon leads to the image of Japan is on shoes, which are removed at the entrance to houses, temples and even restaurants. Traditionally, Japanese people remove their shoes to sleep, sit and eat. As meals are made in tatami, removing shoes is a way to keep the environment clean.
Also get to know the ancient art of origami by reading : Origami: definition, origin and meanings .
Sports are an important element in Japanese culture. The sports that quickly lead to practice in Japan are sumo, judo, karate and aikido. Today, however, badminton, baseball and football are widely practiced in Japan.
Sumo is considered a national sport, having been practiced for at least 1,500 years.
It is a professional sport, but still retains its ritualistic roots, such as the use of salt for purification and food for practitioners.
High-performance sumo athletes are revered by the Japanese. Today, the sport is also sought after by foreigners, but the natives are still the most famous athletes.
Sumo is a national sport with ritual characteristics
Considered the oldest martial art in Japan, kendo consists of the use of bamboo swords joined by leather straps. It has been practiced since 1333, because samurai needed to practice the use of the sword.
From Japan, karate arrived in China, where it was perfected. Its origins, however, are even directed to the Indian continent. Karate is spread to the world and presents a fantastic way of fighting without using weapons.
Karate is a Japanese sport, but practiced worldwide
Japanese food is so particularly diverse and seductive that, alone, it would be a justification for visiting the country. Like sport, it spread across the world, carried by migrants and involving connoisseurs everywhere.
From Japan came sushi, a delicacy that mixes fish and rice wrapped in a layer of seaweed. Of utmost importance in Japanese cuisine is rice, which, of such significance, has already been traded as currency.
Rice is the basis of at least 2,000 Japanese dishes. The demand for quality starts at planting and harvesting follows special guidelines.
Another ingredient that sums up the peculiarity of Japanese cuisine is fish, prepared in such a diverse way that it is even enjoyed at breakfast, where it needs to be eaten raw.
Sake is the Japanese national drink. It is a white rice wine that can serve as an accompaniment to various meals. Another tradition in Japan is tea, consumed on a large scale.
The importance of tea has earned him a specific ceremony, which involves preparation and consumption.