The world is a magical place. Even though today, with the Internet and all modern technologies at our disposal, we are inclined to think that people around the world are all alike, this is not the case. The globe is bigger than we might think at first, and there are countless cultures present, all beautiful, unique, and valuable in their own way. When we look at the other side of the world, one of the countries that stand out most prominently is Japan. The jewel of the East, Japan has captivated the imagination of all who explored its culture and history for centuries. But what makes Japanese culture so unique, compared to the rest of the world?
The history of Japan
A good starting point for finding the answer is in Japan’s history. Its seclusion from the land part of Asia enabled for a separate culture to be formed, ever since the prehistoric period; however, its proximity to China has enabled for Japan to be influenced by numerous elements from the Chinese culture, which the Japanese were able to integrate and perfect in their own way. A good example of this is the Japanese adaptation of Chinese characters for writing, despite having little in common with China aside from being close to it.
Japan also experienced periods of isolation from the outside world that lasted for a while, one of them even lasting for almost two hundred years, which enabled them to develop their culture independently from the influence of the rest of the world.
One of the elements that shaped Japanese culture is religion. Two religions are dominant in Japan, Shinto, and Buddhism. While Buddhism was imported to Japan, Shinto was a religion native to the Japanese islands, and it revolved around the unity of spirit between people, plants, animals, and the earth. Of course, other factors shaped Japanese culture into what it is today, but this element remains one of the strongest and oldest landmarks in their culture.
Japanese cuisine is praised and enjoyed all around the world. Their dishes are unique and very intricate, and often demand the chef to be highly skilled. We see little influence from other countries in their dishes, which we can attribute to their partial isolation. While there are some dishes that have spread around the world, even more can still only be found in Japan, for the tourists and admirers of the culture to enjoy.
While today, mainstream fashion mostly follows the example set by the Western world, Japanese traditional dress remains very well-known all around the world. Kimono sets Japan apart from the rest of the world, and although it has gone out of use in big cities, people in smaller towns still enjoy wearing them, especially for particular ceremonies and celebrations.
Manga and anime
These art forms were first created after the Second World War, and they became more and more popular in Japan and Asia, to be enjoyed all around the world today.
Japanese culture may have changed over the years, but some elements still set it apart from the rest of the world.