18 years ago, writer Amy Chavez packed up and left America for the Japanese island of Shiraishi. Her life, of course, changed drastically with that move.
“So many things are the opposite of what you learned growing up in America,” she says.
Amy, who writes for the Japanese media outlet RocketNews24, has heard this from a number of people who’ve visited Japan. With their input, in addition to her own knowledge, Amy put together several key points highlighting the awesomeness of Japanese culture.
Today, we’re going to take a look at 9 particularly awesome points from her list!
9 Amazing Life Practices We Can All Learn From Japan
#1 – Politeness Is Everything
“In the U.S., we think politeness is all about saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ says Amy.
“In Japan that is not what it is about. In Japan if you have two pieces of cake you would always give the slightly bigger piece of cake to the other person whether it is your friend, your father or your enemy. You always put the other person first and yourself last.”
You see, the Japanese built their culture on the basis of collectivism. In a collectivist culture, citizens place emphasis traits that benefit the entire population – like politeness, generosity and helpfulness.
Individualistic cultures (like America’s) place emphasis on assertiveness and independence.
“In the U.S. if someone has a car accident you are told not to apologize because you are admitting guilt,” says Amy. “Here [in Japan] you would apologize profusely because there has been an inconvenience for the other side.”
#2 – Everybody Gets Included
All the cliquishness you see in America? It doesn’t happen in collectivist Japan.
“There’s no sharing your beers just among your own friends, or inviting only some of your coworkers,” says Amy. “In Japan, you invite everyone concerned, even if you don’t like some of them.”
Interestingly enough, Amy also says that when group photos are taken, they include not just friends or relatives but everyone present.
#3 – People Always Return Favors
In Japan, according to Amy, you quickly learn that you need to return favors as soon as possible. The returning gesture does not need to be of equal grandiosity, though:
“If someone gives you a hand with something, such as moving a new sofa to your house for example, just buying them a soft drink from the vending machine to show your appreciation is enough,” says Amy.
#4 – Littering Does Not, Under Any Circumstances, Happen
Japanese fans shocked the entire world at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The fans, which occupied an entire section of the stadium, left not one trace of rubbish where they were seated.
“If you’ve been to Japan, this won’t surprise you because the Japanese always clean after themselves,” says Amy.
Even at house parties in Japan, guests do not leave before doing the dishes and cleaning up their mess. Imagine that!
#5 – Punctuality Is A Must
Amy says this was one of the most common answers she heard when surveying people.
Indeed, it’s well-known that the Japanese are very punctual. According to the Hiragana Times, if a Japanese train arrives one minute later than scheduled, operators announce their apologies over the PA system.
Timing is so precise in Japan that Shinkansen (bullet train) officials set the arrival and departure times within 15 second intervals.
As you can imagine, the American transit system is quite jarring to many a Japanese traveler.
#6 – All Social Classes Must Be Graceful
“If there is one word that describes Japanese people, it is graceful,” says Amy.
The Japanese expect each other, regardless of social status, to exhibit certain graceful behavior like bowing to show respect and dressing well.
Even in fighting (think martial arts), the Japanese are incredibly graceful.
#7 – People Only Make Promises They Plan To Keep
In Japanese culture, there is no flaking.
“When someone says they’ll do something, they mean it,” says Amy. “If they say they’ll come, they’ll come even if it’s pouring down rain.”
In the event that someone absolutely cannot make it to a prior commitment, Japanese social rule says they need to call in advance or send someone in their place.
#8 – Ganbaru
Ganbaru, a popular word among the Japanese, means to “slog on tenaciously through tough times.”
This, according to Jason Cohen writing for Coto Academy, is ‘hands-down,’ the most effective word or phrase that describes the Japanese.
Cohen, an American living in Japan, actually thought this phrase meant ‘good luck’ based on the context he often heard it in. But no – in fact, the Japanese don’t actually have a direct replacement for the phrase ‘good luck.’
Instead, they say ganbaru in an effort to encourage each other to rely not on luck but determination.
#9 – Peace Is An Option
You don’t have to look too hard to discover that many countries – America included – are content with the idea of being at war. People often see it as the only option in many circumstances.
In Japan, though, people do not see war as necessary.
“Modern Japanese children are taught from a young age that violence is wrong,” says Amy. “Peace is encouraged through education, annual remembrances and Article 9 in Japan’s own constitution.”
Which of these points did you find more interesting? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!
Check out this video for more interesting facts about life in Japan.
Copyright belongs to the owners of the articles mentioned about. We are gratefully sharing and passing it forward! If this article belongs to you and have any requests or mentions please leave a comment in the article!