Introduction to Japanese culture
Japanese culture is very different from German culture. There are many rules and norms that are observed by the Japanese. Some of these are in complete contradiction to us in Germany, which can sometimes lead to amusement and embarrassment for everyone. Several religions exist in parallel in Japan, including Shinto, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Christianity or Islam hardly play a role in Japan.
However, the religious tolerance of the Japanese is very high. Like the pacifism of the Japanese, this is based on the end of the Second World War in connection with the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The geisha is an important entertainment figure in Japan. The artists of this art form learn musical instruments, calligraphy, dance and flower arranging over the years, in order to later perform as Japanese entertainers. It is interesting that many geishas continue their profession into old age.
The geisha is internationally known and can be recognized by her strikingly made-up face. The geisha Mineko Iwasaki (* November 2nd, 1949) was Japan’s most famous geisha for more than ten years and was known worldwide.
The Japanese gardens, which have been lovingly laid out, are also internationally known. In contrast to western gardens, the Japanese attach great importance to a harmonious overall picture between the complex and its surroundings. For this they use moss, stones, streams and ponds in particular. The use of these techniques and materials resulted in unique gardens.
Koi are also often kept in the ponds. An offshoot for the people of Japan, this beloved garden is the Japanese garden art using bonsai.
Examples of cultural differences
This list could be extended indefinitely. There are clear differences in the cultures. This is particularly important if you are dealing with Japanese people in Germany or on vacation in Japan.
Kindergartens in Japan are divided into two areas of early childhood education. First there is the kindergarten, which is called Yochien in Japan and offers half-day care for children aged three to five. This facility is often used by wealthy Japanese people, because in these cases the mother of the child does not have to work and the child goes to kindergarten purely to promote performance. Not all children are accepted either, as weaker children are rejected through performance and entrance tests.
As an alternative, there is child day care, also known as Hoikuen . It is a type of day care for children between the ages of zero and five. The difference to Yochien is important: Here there is pure care and supervision of children! These institutions exist both from the state and from private sources. However, the costs of private child day care usually exceed those of state institutions.
|Shoes stay on indoors and are not taken off||Shoes are usually taken off and put down indoors.|
|Germans eat while walking||Japanese do not eat while walking|
|No protection against a cold||Face protection if you have a cold|
|Tip when visiting a restaurant||No tips when visiting restaurants|
|Trains also run at night||Trains usually don’t run at night|
|No waste separation in public areas||Extensive waste separation in public areas|
|Do not smack or slurp loudly while eating||It’s okay if you smack or slurp loudly while eating|
Values & Norms of Japanese Culture
Layers according to the onion diagram
Values in Japan
- Individual personality less important than society as a whole
- The face must be preserved
- Hierarchical orientation in society, everyone has their place
Rituals in Japan
- Nagoshi no harae: Purification ritual on June 30th
- Marriage: Japanese often only marry before the Shinto gods
- Sentō and Onsen: Bathing and cleansing the body in public baths
Heroes in Japan
- Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) tried to integrate all of Japan.
- Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598) continued the unification efforts and unified Japan
- Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Ieyasu Tokunaga fought for the position of shogun
- Leyasu Tokunaga (1543-1616) and his family led Japan for 15 generations (265 years)
Symbols in Japan
- The Zen Circle: Enso. This means emptiness and universe.
- Salt: means purification. Sumo wrestlers throw salt to clean the stage
- Rice: Rice is the symbol of the Shinto religion
- Sun: Sun is the most important god
- Folding fan: It means prosperity and the blooming flower.
- Red Color: Red is the color of cleansing and keeps the devils away
Japanese educational goals
In Japan there is strictness, discipline and subordination. The basic goal of Japanese upbringing is to ensure an independent, healthy, and safe life.
Here, 5 educational goals have emerged that are still relevant today:
In Japan, early childhood play is a very important factor as a process of learning. In particular, the free game is very encouraged and supported. The free play promotes interactions between the children, sets roles and rules in games and practices compliance.
In this way, the goals of the Japanese population, that society is above the individual, can be strengthened and the children’s sense of community can be trained.
Dealing with everyday daycare
In everyday daycare, you should be polite and calm with Japanese people. They are always polite, calm and courteous. To greet you, bow slightly, with the younger bowing lower than the older person you are speaking to. This is a sign of appreciation for the person as well as their culture .
Should you forget how to deal with Japanese people correctly, this is no reason for Japanese people to argue or argue. Often the Japanese say sentences like: “Oh Gaijin – (foreigner)” and do not take the faux pas offended. In the event of ambiguities or problems, it is important that criticism is addressed more indirectly so that everyone can save face. Even a “yes” from a Japanese citizen does not necessarily have to mean direct approval, as the Japanese often say “yes” in order to assure the speaker of his attention.
When dealing with children, it is important to know that blowing your nose with a handkerchief is not welcome in Japan. This is perceived as dirty and embarrassing. Instead, the nose is pulled up. Sick Japanese and older children always wear a face mask to protect their fellow human beings.
Discipline is also a very important factor in Japanese upbringing. Here you should ensure good communication with the parents in order to avoid misunderstandings. Because so many educational activities in Germany can be misunderstood by the Japanese. By explaining the measures, discussions and negative tensions can be avoided from the start.
- Eidam and partner. From cultural values in Japan: https://www.eidam-und-partner.de/files/downloads/eidam_und_partner_kulturelle_werte_in_japan.pdf accessed on December 5, 2020
- Neue Züricher Zeitung. (2002). Norm and normality in Japan: https://www.nzz.ch/article894VX-1.407950
- Stenger, U. (January 2017). Daycare specialist texts. From the early childhood education system and educational research in Japan: https://www.kita-fachtexte.de/fileadmin/Redaktion/Publikationen/KiTaFT_Stenger_ua_2017_FruehpaedagogikinJapan.pdf , accessed on December 5, 2020
Götz, S. (2021). Japanese culture in daycare. Discover Japanese culture. ISSN: 2748-2979. Accessed on 01/16/2021. Available at: https://krippenzeit.de/japanische-kultur-im-kita-alltag/