Culture of Japan

Japan is internationally renowned for its interesting, innovative, and creative culture. From its many artistic leaders in music, visual arts, and fashion, to its huge influence in global technology, it's hard to think of a country that's contributed more to the modern world than Japan. With a culture that can be both inviting and difficult to work out, it's also a unique experience for visitors to Japan.

Most people outside of Japan know it as a country where bizarre television shows rock the air, great food is served in clean, character-filled restaurants, and ancient culture mixes alongside many of the world's greatest technological marvels. While these visions of Japanese culture are certainly close to the truth, they're not all that the country has to offer for visitors.

At the heart of Japanese culture is the idea of social cohesion. A direct opposite of Western culture, in which rational thought beats out any form of social pandering, Japan's culture, particularly when business is conducted, is about cohesion and mutual respect. The concept of 'face' is vital for good social interactions in Japan, and it forms an essential part of the country's social culture.

'Face' is little more than social upstanding, or a lack of embarrassment in public situations. In work settings, this could mean correcting the boss after a meeting rather than during it. In social settings such as a bar or restaurant gathering, it could mean taking care of any issues with service in a quiet and non-aggressive manner.

Visitors to Japan are immediately struck by one thing – Japanese people are friendly, really friendly. Few countries can compare to Japan when it comes to openness to others, and Japanese people tend to be kind and welcoming to all visitors. This can be a great thing, particularly for visitors looking for the assistance of a local in finding a nearby attraction or translating a restaurant's menu.

However, it can have its downsides. Japan's mega-nice culture can make the country a difficult trip for language learners, who will rarely be corrected on their mistakes and fail to make progress. It's also a potential annoyance when you're trying to go somewhere quickly. If a taxi driver isn't sure of your destination, he might claim to know where it is simply to allow for more social cohesion.

Of course, Japan's non-social culture is known throughout the world. From innovative fashion to its high-tech industry, foreigners flock to Japan to get a taste of the world's most modern buildings and ancient rituals. A common feeling for visitors to Japan is that of being trapped between time periods in Japanese cities, with ancient castles and monuments saddled alongside massive new buildings.

The concept of family is very important to Japanese people, and some foreign visitors might be quite surprised by the amount of importance that Japanese people assign to keeping in touch with their family. Older children, often in their late thirties, will frequently live with their families, both to save money on otherwise costly rentals and because it's simply a Japanese social custom.

Japan's artistic culture is both accessible and somewhat difficult for many foreigners to understand, blending pop culture, flashy lights, and interesting social customs in a unique way. From J-Rock to the country's obsession with video gaming, fans of alternative culture and technology-inspired art will find a lot to enjoy in Japan, particularly in Tokyo's more creative districts.

With an incredible mix of modern development and feudal tradition, Japan is an interesting cultural experience. From Western influence, which has shaped the country's favorite sports and movies, to the huge range of native Japanese artists and technological innovators, Japan is an incredible study in the fusion of modern culture, ancient spirituality, calm social cohesion, and business innovation.