5 Things to Know About Being Japanese

Japan has been a closed country for ages. This is why, despite of its high development and rapid westernization, the country still preserves own traditions and mentality, remaining a mystery for the rest of the world.

These are 5 curious facts about being Japanese that sound strange for western culture.

Cleanliness is next to godliness, they say in old Europe. But what do they know about hygiene comparing to Japan? Japanese not only take their shoes off before entering a house (school, temple etc.), but put on special toilet slippers, used only at lavatory rooms.

It’s O’K to wear a mask on the street to protect your own health or the health of the others. Even if you are a glam-looking woman and this not attractive mask covers a half of your perfect makeup. Although, it is not cool to throw away trash in inappropriate places. It might happen that you don’t see a single trash can on your way, since Japanese consider their “dust boxes” filthy and unaesthetic, so rarely put them on the streets, but… you are going to put your garbage in a plastic bag and carry it as much as needed to make the space around nice and clean.

Being a Japanese means to live under constant pressure: you study hard in the best school to enter the best college to get the best job, so – if you are lucky and you are a girl – to get the best husband and not to return to work ever again. But if you are a boy you are expected to supply your family, “living” at work to make career, earn money and obtain a social status. Recently more and more young guys after finishing school lock themselves at home and never leave own room. They are called hikikomori. Parents have to take care of their sons, who gave up the race for success and chose being on the safe side instead of living in a stress of modern life.

If there are some coins laying on the road or you found a new iPhone, being Japanese you will not touch it, with a hope that the owner will come back to pick it up. Japanese highly respect privacy. The crime statistics in Japan shows one of the lowest results in the world.

Being a Japanese, especially a young one, you have to look cool and stylish. Osaka is one of the world’s fashion capitals, so if during the day you wear a simple smart suit, at night you will have a trendy and unique style. But while girls adopt Japanese traditions and recover America’s 50-th fashion trends, boys don’t really try to look manly and masculine. They are thin, fragile and female-like. Everything is supposed to be “kawai” – sweet and cute. Even the boys.

Word “otskare” – means “such a great job we have done together!” The principle of collectivity is of high importance in Japanese culture. There is a custom that during the tea ceremony you must apologies to the person next to you for drinking first, even though it is your turn. While leaving your work, even after working long extra hours, you ask for apology of the people, who are still remaining in the office.

photo credit: tokyoform Tokyo 3926 via photopin (license)