One of the best techniques to learn to know and experience Japanese culture is by taking a trip to Japan and contributing a few months living among its people and their ways. However, times do not always allow for excursions. There are still effective ways for you to learn about the basics of Japanese culture without having to travel far from home.
Steps to learn the basics of Japanese culture
Visit your library
Borrow books are dedicated to Japanese culture, customs, and language. Most libraries also allow people to borrow informational DVDs. Look for popular Japanese productions, or put out educational films about Japanese culture. You can also ask the library for self-learning tutorial videos, in which case you are interested in learning the Japanese language.
Take a college course
Enroll in one or two courses that teach the Japanese language, in addition to its culture and history. Many institutions also offer cultural clubs. Ask a teacher in the language department of any Japanese cultural club. This will allow you to make friends with other Japanese culture students, and it will provide you with a more personalized way of learning about the culture.
Contact a pen pal
If you cannot take a college course and prefer a more private way to learn about Japanese culture, consider having a pen pal. A pen pal will allow you to write to a student or someone else from Japan. By having a pen pal, you can learn about the culture from someone who knows it well. Ask questions about the types of food they eat, religion, what a typical day is like, their educational system, and family traditions.
Cook popular Japanese foods
Rice plays an important role in the Japanese diet, especially around the fall season, when the rice is ripe and offers a sweet and delicate flavor. Mushrooms, fruits, fish, and vegetables are also staples in the Japanese diet. To add to the cultural experience, enjoy your meal listening to popular Japanese music, and eat your meal with chopsticks. If you have friends and others in Japan, ask them to show you how to make authentic dishes.
The Japanese are very traditional if you travel to Japan to follow their customs or it can be a very negative gesture on your part.
Customs of Japanese culture
This complex culture is also very creative and in continuous development. Many Japanese customs were formed at the beginning of the new millennium or even in recent years.
Who would have thought that the proud and reserved Japanese people celebrated real “nudity festivals”? In the long list of Japanese traditions, the Hadaka Matsuri immediately catches the eye, a city festival born in Okayama (but today also celebrated in many other cities of the country) that you will find mentioned in all the books on Japanese culture.
Thousands of men flock to this extravagant matsuri in the street, wearing only the typical Japanese loincloth (called fundoshi). However, the most loyal participants in this historic celebration will show up completely naked. In many cases, nudity in Japan is not a symbol of shame or vulgarity but a sacred tradition.
Participation in the event is not for obvious reasons extended to the female public, who can safely observe and celebrate on the road’s side. The numerous naked men will carry out loud and noisy parades are carrying large floats through the city’s streets. The evening’s main event will be the designation of the Shin Otoko, literally “the real man” or “the divine man.” This character will be completely naked and surrounded by all the other men who will try to touch or touch him, as it is said that contact with the Shin Otoko brings immense luck.
The super-technological toilets
Spending time in the bathroom every day is undoubtedly inevitable, so why not make these moments more comfortable? Japan is the country that has ever made the most sophisticated changes to the simple toilets we are all used to, up to the point of creating real “smart toilets.” For a long time present in Japanese homes, these technological bathrooms have also been present for many years in public places, first of all, bars and restaurants.
Seeing is believing! These futuristic bathrooms have a keyboard with many buttons on the side, each with a specific function. Among the most common are:
- Music activation, to cover unwanted noises when you are not at home
- Heating the tablet,
- Perfume diffusion,
- Hygienic water jet, adjustable in intensity and direction according to the sexes. Italian travelers can particularly appreciate this idea. Let’s not forget that the bidet is an all-Italian prerogative and of very few other countries!
Okunoshima: the island of rabbits
Japan is very rich in islands characterized by unspoiled nature: perfect habitats for rare species of plants and animals. Among these little corners of paradise, one of those that appear most often on the web is Okunoshima, the island of rabbits.
The small island is located in the eastern part of the Sea of Japan and as the name suggests, it is inhabited by hundreds of wild rabbits that roam its forests, roads, and tourist trails. That’s right, these cute little animals are very friendly (a very rare feature for rabbits, usually rather shy), to the point that they often follow tourists hopping briskly in the hope of getting something to nibble on.
The capsule hotels
The capsule hotels are now present in all major cities in Japan, and year after year, there are more and more appreciated both by locals and tourists. At about half the cost of a normal hotel, you can stay in one of these extravagant structures where instead of normal hotel rooms, you will find “niches” (or capsules). Be careful before eliminating them regardless of your travel plans: the inside of the niches is much more comfortable than you might think!
The hotel will provide your capsule of new and clean sheets every day and all niches are also equipped with an internal light, an alarm clock, radio, and television. Many hotels have been further modernizing in recent years, introducing safes, power sockets to recharge phones, and Wi-Fi connection inside the capsules.