Adapting to Culture and Tradition in Japan

Most Japanese people are descendants of migrants who came from the Asian mainland. China influences most of the culture and traditions of Japan. Additionally, culture and tradition in Japan has also been influenced by the western world over the last century.

The Japanese society

Japan has a homogeneous society that includes other nationalities other than Japanese. The society is made up of approximately 1% of Koreans and Chinese. Additionally, 5-10% of the population is from the Philippines and Brazil.

Family plays an important role in society. In fact, respecting the elderly is a matter of great importance for the Japanese people. Additionally, Japan follows a stricter social hierarchy compared to the western society.

As we’ve mentioned in our previous article, Japanese culture and tradition places importance on education and academic accomplishments. Additionally, the importance of hard work and perseverance is instilled in Japanese individuals at a very young age and persists as they grow older. Another staple of Japanese culture and tradition is politeness and preserving a respectable public image.

Japanese people often conduct themselves in a more formal and cordial manner than other societies. They also keep personal matters private and avoid awkward situations with others. Additionally, Japanese people rarely ever refuse directly. Likewise, yes does not always mean agreement. Not only that, but Japanese people also do not ask direct questions or make direct orders.

Tradition and culture in Japan

The younger generations are more influenced by western culture while the older generations hold on to Japanese culture and tradition. Below are some important things that all international students must know:

  • The Japanese people bow forwards as a form of traditional greeting. However, they are aware that the western greeting is a handshake.
  • It is inappropriate for you to introduce yourself among people. It is best to wait for someone else to introduce you.
  • As a form of respect, Japanese people add the suffix -san to a given name. Additionally, they’ll also use the word “Sama” as another form of respect and admiration.
  • You should never enter the house with your shoes on. In a Japanese household, you need to take your shoes off. You must wear house slippers normally placed in the doorway.
  • Nonverbal communication is very important in Japanese society. For that reason, you must use the facial expressions, intonation and body language that is appropriate for every context.
  • The eldest in a group of people is always the center of respect and attention. Therefore, you should always serve them first as a sign of respect.
  • You should never tip anyone for any service. It is offensive in Japanese culture.
  • Japanese people normally wear surgical masks in public places to prevent the spread of infections during flu and hay fever seasons.

Working hours and weekends in Japan

adjusting to culture and tradition in japan
  • Official working hours for banks and government jobs are from 9 a.m to 5 p.m.
  • The weekend is on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Post offices operate from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m to 8 p.m and from 10 a.m to 4 p.m on Saturdays. The post office is closed on Sundays.
  • Public schools are active until the evenings in some areas. Sundays are the only day off.
  • Universities and colleges normally have both Saturdays and Sundays off.

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