As an isolated island country, Japan underwent various cultural evolutions in solitude for thousands of years, creating a truly unique culture. As connections with other countries grew in modern times, influences from other cultures mixed with Japan’s to create the cultural complements and contrasts that travellers enjoy today – such as the deep traditional culture paired with the latest technology and arts.
Many travellers to Japan are surprised at how the country differs substantially from their home country. In particular, the lifestyle, culture and manners are easily noticeable, and travellers’ reactions to the differences often range from pleasant, curious to sometimes perplexed. Below are just a few ways to enjoy the rich cultural gems of Japan!
For those keen for Japan’s cultural sport experience, the big (excuse the pun) must-see is sumo. Deeply rooted in Japan’s rich history, sumo has represented Japan as a national sport for centuries. It’s not only about sumo though – wrestle with our guide to find out all about the sporty culture of Japan waiting to be experienced here!
Omotenashi / Experiences
In Japan, there is a deep rooted culture called omotenashi. Omotenashi means to wholeheartedly entertain guests, and it was the term selected to convey the essence of Japanese hospitality in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games bid. The term is literally a microcosm of the country itself. For example, there is no custom for tipping in Japan. The Japanese have a mindset of hospitality and service that centres around care rather than expectation. This omotenashi mindset is inextricably linked to the Japanese history of sadō (tea ceremony) where there is a selfless desire to serve and take care of one another. You’re bound to feel the omotenashi hospitality while travelling in Japan. Find out about other cultural experiences that are central to Japan’s past and present.
World Heritage Sites
Man-made or natural, Japan boasts sites that even on their own are well worth a visit to the country. In fact, as of July 2015, there are 15 cultural and 4 natural UNESCO World Heritage sites in Japan. Examples include the buddhist monuments in the Horyu-ji area and the breathtaking Yakushima Island. These extraordinary sites are spotted across the country; how about a journey to see them all?
Japan’s Top Three Festivals
Did you know that there are thousands of omatsuri (festivals) held across Japan throughout the year? Regardless of size, participating in fun-filled omatsuri is a perfect way to meet and have an authentic experience with the locals. Here’s a starter’s guide to Japan’s top three festivals (needless to say, these are not the only ones we recommend so keep exploring to find your festival fun! ).