Spotlight on Japan: Japanese Culture
Japanese culture may seem quite mysterious to the British, being neighbours of countries like South Korea and China. But we are surrounded by Japanese culture. On any given day, you could go for a drive in a Japanese-made car, eat at a sushi restaurant, play Japanese video games, or wear Japanese fashion. For a small island country, Japan has become as much of a cultural powerhouse as Britain.
Food: Sushi is often the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Japanese food, and indeed the Japanese do eat a lot of sushi. However, it’s not an everyday meal. Japanese food culture comes from a mix of Chinese and American cuisine, along with quite a few others . Japan boasts many delicious delicacies as well. You may have heard of Kobe beef (different from the American style), which is renowned for its flavour and marbled texture.
Fashion: Japanese fashion is very modern, and Japan has become one of the finest fashion producers in the world. Japanese brand Comme des Garçons has collaborated with many household names such as H&M, Nike and Louis Vuitton and as such has vastly influenced street fashion around the world. While the traditional Japanese kimono dress is still worn by women, it is mainly reserved for special occasions such as weddings and graduations.
Sport: The most popular sports in Japan are baseball and football. Japanese football players have started to make their mark on the world stage, with Okazaki playing for Leicester City and Kagawa for Man United. Traditional Japanese sports, such as karate, judo and sumo, are quite popular among children in Japan.
Media: The Japanese film industry is one of the oldest and largest in the world. Perhaps their most famous productions are from Studio Ghibli, which have become beloved classics in both Japan and abroad. Gaming is also a massively important sector in Japan, and sparked the golden age of gaming in the late 1970s to the early 1980s with companies like Nintendo and Sega.
Personality: What are Japanese people like? They are incredibly polite, which can be seen in many spheres of Japanese culture. The Japanese are taught to always show respect for one another, and bowing is common. They also have a clear distinction between uchi (内), literally inside, or private life, and soto (外), literally outside, or public life. Due to this, it often seems that the Japanese are a little shy or anti-social, but it is just one of their ways of showing respect.
In a globalised world, you realise that even here in the UK, we are already surrounded by influences of Japanese culture. Their cuisine, media, and exports are already integrated into countless cultures across the world.