Introduction to Japanese culture
Japanese culture is very different from German culture. There are many rules and norms that are observed by Japanese people. These are partly in complete contradiction to us in Germany, which can sometimes lead to the amusement and embarrassment of all. 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. This, like the pacifism of the Japanese, is based on the end of World War II in connection with the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
An important entertainment figure in Japan is the geisha. Female artists in this art form spend years learning musical instruments, calligraphy, dance, and flower arranging, and later perform as Japanese entertainers. It is interesting that many geishas practice their profession until old age.
The Geisha is internationally known and especially recognizable by her strikingly made-up face. Geisha Mineko Iwasaki (*2.11.1949) was the most famous geisha in Japan for more than ten years and was known worldwide.
Internationally known are also the Japanese gardens created with much love. In contrast to Western gardens, the Japanese attach great importance to a harmonious overall picture between the plant and its surroundings. For this they use especially moss, stones, streams and ponds. The application of these techniques and materials created unique gardens.
Koi are also often kept in the ponds. An offshoot for the people of Japan, of these beloved gardens is Japanese gardening using the bonsai.
Examples of cultural differences
This list could be extended at will. Clear differences in the cultures can be seen. This is especially important when dealing with Japanese people in Germany or vacationing in Japan.
Kindergartens in Japan are divided into two areas in early childhood education. Once there is the kindergarten, called Yochien in Japan, which provides half-day care for children from three to five years old. Often this facility is used by wealthy Japanese, as in these cases the child’s mother does not have to work and the child attends kindergarten purely to promote achievement. Not all children are admitted, either, as weaker children are turned away through achievement and entrance tests.
Day care, also known as hoikuen , is an alternative. It is a type of daycare for children ages zero to five. Important is the difference from the Yochien: Here there is a pure care and supervision of children! These facilities are available from both government and private sources. However, the cost of private day care usually exceeds that of public facilities.
|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 when you have a cold||For a cold face mask|
|Tipping when going to a restaurant||No tip when visiting a restaurant|
|Trains also run at night||Trains usually do not run at night|
|No waste separation in public areas||Extensive waste separation in public areas|
|Do not smack or slurp loudly while eating||It is ok to 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
- Face must be saved
- Hierarchical orientation in society, everyone has their place
Rituals in Japan
- Nagoshi no harae: Ritual for purification on June 30.
- Marriage: Japanese often marry only in front of Shintō gods
- Sentō and onsen: bathing and cleansing the body in public baths
Heroes in Japan
- Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582) tried to integrate the whole 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 (for 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 flower blooming.
- Red color: Red is the color of purification and keeps away the devils
Japanese educational goals
In Japan, strictness, discipline and subordination prevail. The basic goal of Japanese education is to ensure an independent, healthy and safe life.
In the process, 5 educational goals, which are still relevant today, have emerged:
In Japan, early childhood play as a process of learning takes a very important factor. In particular, free play is highly encouraged and supported. This is because free play encourages interactions between the children, setting roles and rules during games and practicing compliance.
This is also a way to reinforce the Japanese people’s goals that society is above the individual and to train the children’s sense of community.
Dealing in the day-to-day life of a daycare center
In the day-to-day life of a daycare center, you should be polite and calm with Japanese people. They are always polite, calm and courteous. To greet each other, bow slightly, with the younger bowing more deeply than the older interlocutor. This is a sign of appreciation towards the person as well as his culture.
Should one forget the correct way of dealing with fellow Japanese, this is no reason for quarrel or discussion for Japanese people. Often Japanese then say phrases like: “Oh Gaijin – (foreigner)” and don’t take the faux pas amiss. In the event of ambiguity or problems, it is important that criticism is addressed rather indirectly so that each interlocutor can save face. Also, a “yes” from a fellow Japanese does not necessarily mean direct agreement, as Japanese often say “yes” to assure the speaker of their attention.
When dealing with children, it is important to know that in Japan blowing your nose with a handkerchief is not appreciated. This is perceived as dirty and embarrassing. Instead, the nose is pulled up. Sick Japanese and also older children always wear a mouth guard to protect their fellow human beings.
Discipline is also a very important factor in Japanese education. Here you should pay attention to good communication with the parents to avoid misunderstandings. This is because some pedagogical actions in Germany can be misinterpreted by the Japanese. By explaining the measures, discussions and negative tensions can be avoided from the outset.
- Eidam and Partner. From Cultural Values in Japan: https://www.eidam-und-partner.de/files/downloads/eidam_und_partner_kulturelle_werte_in_japan.pdf retrieved on 2020-12-05.
- Neue Züricher Zeitung. (2002). Norm and normality in Japan: https://www.nzz.ch/article894VX-1.407950
- Stenger, U. (January 2017). Kita Fachtexte. From Early childhood education system and education research in Japan: https://www.kita-fachtexte.de/fileadmin/Redaktion/Publikationen/KiTaFT_Stenger_ua_2017_FruehpaedagogikinJapan.pdf, accessed 2020-12-05.
Goetz, S. (2021). Japanese culture in the day care center everyday life. Discover the Japanese culture. ISSN: 2748-2979. Accessed 01/16/2021. Available at: https://krippenzeit.de/japanische-kultur-im-kita-alltag/