Unlike western funerals, Japanese funerals are very intricate and long with various steps starting right at the hospital all the way to the end. These steps are referred to as The Pre-Wake, The Wake, Cremation, Burial, and Memorial Service. Even after the funeral has concluded, there are still ceremonies that take place months, and even years after the funeral is over.
Culture & Life
Most people use face masks to protect themselves from spreading or catching an illness. In Japan, the Japanese put a big emphasis on not being a bother to others, and this includes sneezing on or near others. In cities, this is especially common because crowded trains are the normal method of transportation. During the spring and early summer periods, allergies are especially bad and masks are worn more commonly.
So, how different are these two cultures? Based on years of living in the Land of the Rising Sun, let me share the cultural differences I’ve noticed between the U.S.A and Japan.
The reasoning behind Japan’s whale hunting is wrapped in both tradition, and the desire to revive the old post-war market of selling and exporting whale meat. Japan has been hunting and eating whales since the Jomon Era. In modern times, the consumption of whale meat was popularized after food shortages prior to the end of World War II.
Japan’s practice of driving on the left originated back to the Edo Period when samurai walked on the left side of the road, drawing their sword with their right hand. This was later officiated when Great Britain helped Japan build their first railway system in 1872, and laws and regulation passed with the introduction of automobiles.
Simply Google “Japan” and colorful images of tall red pagodas, a snow-capped Mount Fuji and the iconic cityscape of Tokyo will pepper your screen. Without a doubt, these landmarks are as “Japanese” as you can get. But have you ever wondered what living in the areas untouched by tourists would be like?
In fact, the religion of Japan is so deeply intertwined with the rest of the culture that you can find its influence in almost every area of Japanese life: from the way that they engage with nature, to the holidays they celebrate with their families. Below, we’ll explain how the two major religions in Japan — Shinto and Buddhism — shaped the past and present of the country, and how people engage with them nowadays.
The Kanreki, rather than being seen as getting older, is viewed as a rebirth. The reason for this is when a person turns 60, they have gone through the Chinese zodiac cycle (Jikkan Junishi) a total of five times and are now back at their original birth zodiac. The word “Kanreki” itself derives its meaning from the words kan (return) and reki (calendar). Simply put, turning 60 is viewed as your chance to start over again.
Because of this, even when us Western tourists (who I will henceforth refer to as “foreigners”) believe ourselves to be on our best behaviour when travelling in Japan, we can still make numerous social faux-pas and unintentionally annoy or offend the locals. While the habits of a lifetime can be difficult to break, having a bit of insight into the type of behaviours that Japanese people tend to find jarring will go a long way towards finding favour on your trip.
The simple answer to this is no. People are not personally punished for their weight in Japan – at least, not in a legal sense. There is, however, something known colloquially as Metabo Law that has been in place nationwide since the year 2008. Metabo Law aims to eradicate obesity and other metabolic disorders in Japan through the systematic monitoring of waist sizes of citizens between the ages of 40 and 74.