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Japan Culture

Japan Culture

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Published by Janisar Mujawar
Some details about japan culture including attire, cuisine etc
Some details about japan culture including attire, cuisine etc

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Published by: Janisar Mujawar on Dec 12, 2011
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The culture of Japan has evolved greatly over millennia, from the country's prehistoric Jōmon period to its contemporary hybrid culture, which combines influences from Asia, Europe and North America. The inhabitants of Japan experienced a long period of relative isolation from the outside world during the Tokugawa shogunate until the arrival of "The Black Ships" and the Meiji period.

Geisha (芸者 "person of the arts") are traditional Japanese artist-entertainers. The word Geiko is also used to describe such persons. Geisha were very common in the 18th and 19th centuries, and are still in existence today, although their numbers are dwindling. "Geisha," pronounced /ˈgeɪ ʃa/ ("gay-sha") is the most familiar term to English speakers, and the most commonly used within Japan as well, but in the Kansai region the terms geigi and, for apprentice geisha, "Maiko" have also been used since the Meiji Restoration. The term maiko is only used inKyoto districts. The English pronunciation ˈgi ʃa ("gee-sha") or the phrase "geisha girl," common during the American occupation of Japan, carry connotations of prostitution, as some young women, desperate for money and calling themselves "geisha," sold themselves to American troops. The geisha tradition evolved from the taikomochi or hōkan, similar to court jesters. The first geisha were all male; as women began to take the role they were known as onna geisha (女芸者), or "woman artist (female form)." Geisha today are exclusively female, aside from the Taikomochi. Taikomochi are exceedingly rare. Only three are currently registered in Japan. They tend to be far more bawdy than geisha. Other public figures who contributed to the creation of the modern geisha were Oiran, or courtesans, and Odoriko, dancing girls.

By watching and assisting senior geisha. and also in dealing with clients. including Japanese musical instruments (particularly the shamisen) and traditional forms of singing. Although a geisha may choose to engage in sexual relations with one of her patrons. poetry and literature. The . She called herself a geisha ("arts-person") and confined herself to giving artistic performances. The first geisha was indeed a courtesan named Kako. and eventually moving up to become a master in her own right (see also irezumi). Occasionally. Modern geisha are no longer bought by or brought into geisha houses as children. This long-held tradition of training still exists in Japan. To some extent. they became skilled in the complex traditions surrounding selecting. Are Geisha Prostitutes? Strictly speaking. matching. a geisha may choose to take a danna (an old fashioned word for husband). the affair is customarily contingent upon the danna's ability to financially support the geisha's lifestyle. traditional dance. parties and banquets that constitute a geisha's work environment. Because they entertain men behind closed doors in an exclusive manner. and in various games and the art of conversation. and took responsibility for raising and training them. Although a geisha may fall in love with her danna. Becoming a geisha is now entirely voluntary. there has been much speculation about the underpinnings of their profession. which is typically a wealthy man who has the means to support a geisha mistress. Kako was directly or indirectly to heir to many schools of Japanese art. Geisha were traditionally trained from young childhood. apprentice geisha worked first as maids. flower arranging (ikebana). During their childhood. where a student lives at the home of a master of some art. Over time. Most geisha now begin their training in their late teens. this traditional method of training persists. This training often lasts for many years. and wearing precious kimono.The Odoriko in particular influenced geisha to include dance as part of their artistic repertoire. and by inaccurate depictions of geisha in Western popular culture. starting out doing general housework and observing and assisting the master. then as assistants to the house's senior geisha as part of their training and to contribute to the costs of their upkeep and education. Once a woman became an apprentice geisha (a maiko) she would begin to accompany senior geisha to the tea houses. The course of study traditionally starts from a young age and encompasses a wide variety of arts. though it is of necessity foreshortened. The confusion that surrounds this issue has been complicated by Japanese prostitutes who wish to co-opt the prestige of the geisha image. tea ceremony. Geisha houses often bought young girls from poor families. geisha are not prostitutes. she discovered that she had no need to engage in the red-light district.

the meaning had already long before changed. The strict code that they followed. "war-man") which came into use during the Edo period. Samurai Samurai (侍 or sometimes 士) is a common term for a warrior in pre-industrial Japan. The samurai with no attachment to a clan or daimyo was called a ronin (lit. With the Meiji reforms in the late 19th century.traditional conventions and values within such a relationship are very intricate and not well understood. is still strongly associated with the war god Hachiman. as do many other aspects of their way of life. not. namely the Azuchi-Momoyama period and early Edo period of the late 16th and early 17th centuries that the word saburai became substituted with samurai. samurai were essentially civilian bureaucrats for the daimyo with their swords serving only ceremonial purposes. the earlier term yumitori (“bowman”) was also used as an honorary title of an accomplished warrior even when swordsmanship had become more important. and over time. the term samurai now usually refers to warrior nobility. still survives in present-day Japanese society. However. the samurai were abolished as a distinct class in favour of a western-style national army. Etymology of samurai The word samurai has its origins in the pre-Heian period Japan when it was pronounced saburai. . However. in Japan as well as abroad. By the end of the Tokugawa. ashigaru or foot soldiers. samurai during the Tokugawa era gradually lost their military function. Samurai were expected to be cultured and literate. called bushido. meaning servant or attendant. the true intimate role of the geisha remains the object of much speculation. Japanese archery (kyujutsu). "wave-man"). even by many Japanese. by then. It was not until the early modern period. for example. A more appropriate term is bushi (武士) (lit. During the era of the rule of the samurai. Because of this. and often misinterpretation.

kimono colors are not as bright. that is still worn today on special occasions by women. especially for younger women.Kimonos Traditional Japanese clothing distinguishes Japan from all other countries around the world. it is also the most formal kimono an unwed woman wears. Men mainly wear darker or more muted colours. Flannel kimonos are ideal for winter. they are a heavier material to help keep you warm. with fall patterns. The kimono of a woman who is married (Tomesode) differs from the kimono of a woman who is not married (Furisode). The Tomesode sets itself apart because the patterns do not go above the waistline. a long silk overgarment worn by the bride in a wedding ceremony. . it came to refer specifically to the full-length garment also known as the naga-gi. Kimono in this meaning plus all other items of traditional Japanese clothing is known collectively as wafuku which means "Japanese clothes" as opposed to yofuku (Western-style clothing). One of the more elegant kimonos is the uchikake. Kimonos come in a variety of colours. meaning "long-wear". and children. The uchikake is commonly embellished with birds or flowers using silver and gold thread. The Japanese word kimono means "something one wears" and they are the traditional garments of Japan. often with complicated abstract or floral patterns. and. men. and sizes. styles. while women tend to wear brighter colors and pastels. the word kimono was used for all types of clothing. Originally. but eventually. In the fall. The Furisode advertises that a woman is not only of age but also single. The Furisode can be recognized by its extremely long sleeves spanning anywhere from 39 to 42 inches. in spring kimonos are vibrantly colored with springtime flowers embroidered on them. The style of kimono also changes with the season.

season. The lighter and simpler casual-wear version of kimono often worn in summer or at home is called yukata. Formal kimonos are typically worn in several layers. is often worn with the kimono. The obi is a very important part of the kimono. and the occasion for which the kimono is worn. while men typically don a more thin and conservative obi. The sizes are only approximate. A happi (or happy coat) is a straight sleeved coat that is typically imprinted with the family crest. and was a common coat for firefighters to wear. Most Japanese men only wear the kimono at home or in a very laid back environment. most young women in Japan are not able to put the kimono on themselves. but it is not famous worldwide like the kimono. an ankle high sock. it is most commonly worn with the kimono. . and special events. Geta are worn both by men and women with the kimono or yukata. Most women wear a very large elaborate obi. excluding the summer version.Kimonos do not come in specific sizes as most western dresses do. sleeve length. Obi is a decorative sash that is worn by Japanese men and women. The hakama is tied at the waist. Geta are sandals mounted on wooden blocks held to the foot by a piece of fabric that slides between the toes. As a result. however it is acceptable for a man to wear the kimono when he is entertaining guests in his home. visibility of layers. yukata. Hakama were initially intended for men only. over the kimono and ends near the ankle. Tabi. a half coat and divided skirt. and kimonos are mostly worn for festivals. For a more formal event a Japanese man might wear the haori and hakama. Many older women offer classes to teach these young women how to don the traditional clothing. Japan also has very distinct footwear. and choice of pattern dictated by social status. Happi is another type of traditional clothing. a type of thonged footwear. Tabi are designed to be worn with geta. and a special technique is used to fit the dress appropriately. Because of the mass availability. with number of layers. most Japanese people wear western style clothing in their everyday life. but today it is acceptable for women to wear them as well. Hakama can be worn with types of kimono. although it can be worn with many different traditional outfits.

The Dance movement is simple and repetitive. that have train or material that flows along the ground at the back of the dress. the Uchikake is long all the way around. The dance is very simple. the local community enjoys Bon-Odori (dance) in the near-by park or playground. This tradition was originated when the farmers thanked the Rice Paddock God for the good summer crop. You can see many beautiful competitors from the Yukata competition During summer evenings everywhere in Japan. Of course you can learn these dances at any age! .Japanese Wedding If you look carefully you will be able to see how the Uchikake is very long and would touch the ground if it was not held up. Japanese Dance Bon Odori Bon-odori” is a Japanese traditional summer dance festival. Unlike traditional Western wedding dresses. you can learn within a few minutes practice! It‟s absolutely fun! ”Yukata is a Japanese informal summer kimono. The Japanese bride has to be assisted by one of her attendants to walk in this kimono.

Koto The koto is one of the most popular Japanese traditional musical instruments. He has studied under renowned conductor and lead percussionist of the Kumamoto Philharmonic Orchestra. The Japanese then developed a new manufacturing method to improve the sound.000 years ago. These first drums were made of slats of wood. Toshinori Sakamoto is an accomplished player and teacher of Wadaiko. To many. the Melbourne International Festival and many group recitals. Since coming to Australia Toshi has performed at Japan Festivals in Melbourne.Japenese Music Traditional Japanese drums are known as taiko or wadaiko drums. Fiji. The improved manufacturing method involved the use of a single piece of wood from the trunk of a very large zelkova tree. the character of koto music is evocative of traditional Japan with the attributes of the western . Takashi Fukuda. Toshi is accompanied by his wife Junko who is also an accomplished Wadaiko player and former member of Rindo Daiko in Kumamoto. The original concept for the large drums came from China over 1. Toshi performed with Rindo Daiko when they visited Melbourne in November 1996 and in October 1997 at their own concerts and as part of a world music Festival at Melbourne Town hall. Together they form Wadaiko Rindo in Melbourne in 2000. but produced an inferior sound because of the secondary vibrations and loss of energy through the joins in the slats. Toshi was a founding member of the Kumamoto based Wadaiko group. He has visited numerous schools throughout Australia to introduce this highly accessible art form to both primary and secondary students. Rindo Daiko and played with them from 1987 until he moved to Australia in 1995. Sydney. The larger drums normally use cow hide for the "heads" of the drums.

By the 15th century. Many Japanese legends refer to the origins of the koto. The music ranges from the simplicity of the traditional to the melodic as well as challenging contemporary pieces. sookyoku began to emerge. It is tuned for different songs by movable bridges of ivory or plastic. gagaku. the left hand applying pressure to vary the pitch. nowadays synthetic. solo repertoires for koto. The thirteen strings of the koto are stretched along a soundboard of nearly two metres made of hollowed-out paulownia timber. sookyoku was a popular source of entertainment for the wealthy merchant classes. dulcimer and lute.harp. The strings were traditionally made of silk. a charmed and mythical creature of ancient Japan and China. The koto was brought to Japan around the end of the 7th century by Chinese and Korean musicians who came to play in the Japanese court orchestra. Click on image to enlarge). A popular one says that the koto was formed in the shape of crouching dragon. In the early Edo period (around the 17th century). Taiko drums Of course no matter how big or small you are Taiko drums are great to play! Sometimes it pays to get a little bit of advice from someone who knows better! Unless you are too busy looking into the details of other important points of Japanese culture. (Photographs from the Japan Festival Melbourne 2002. The koto is played with ivory plectrum on the thumb and the first two fingers of the right hand. .

from which to choose. Others spent leisure time participating in sports. and personal study. enjoying their favorite manga. television programs. the family was the focus of leisure activities. and videogames all developed from older artistic and literary traditions. Popular films. provide not only entertainment but also an escape for the contemporary Japanese from the problems of an industrial world. the publishing. and game industries in Japan make up the growing Japanese content industry. Together. 80 percent of a sample of men and women surveyed by the government in 1986 said they averaged about two and a half hours per weekday watching television. was estimated to be worth close to 26 trillion Yen (USD$ 400 billion. which. Teenagers and retired people reported more time spent on all of these activities than did other groups. among other forms of entertainment. and game shows. When asked how they spent their leisure time. or listening through earphones to the latest in popular music on portable music players. Contemporary forms of popular culture. and many of their themes and styles of presentation can be traced to traditional art forms. Many anime and manga are very popular around the world and continue to become popular. in 2006. and karaoke are popular hangout places for teens while older people may play shogi or go in specialized parlors. It is common to see Japanese commuters riding the train to work.[9] this has made Japan an "entertainment superpower" along with the United States and United Kingdom. and reading newspapers or magazines. In the late 1980s. Musashi. as well as Japanese video games.) . and the products of a huge comic book industry.Popular culture Musashi Miyamoto in Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue. adapted from an Eiji Yoshikawa's novel. films. Some 16 percent spent an average of two and a quarter hours a day engaged in hobbies or amusements. socializing. much like the traditional forms. manga. A wide variety of types of popular entertainment are available. fashion. Japanese popular culture not only reflects the attitudes and concerns of the present but also provides a link to the past. music/audio. listening to the radio. music. such as excursions to parks or shopping districts. Game centers. the Japanese seek entertainment wherever they can. music. film/video. bowling alleys. Although Japan is often thought of as a hard-working society with little time for leisure. There is a large selection of music.

Calligraphic art is often too esoteric for Western audiences and therefore general exposure is very limited.Visual arts Painting Painting has been an art in Japan for a very long time: the brush is a traditional writing tool. and the extension of that to its use as an artist's tool was probably natural. However in East Asian countries. or even single characters. poems. In some cases it can take over one hundred attempts to produce the desired effect of a single character but the process of creating the work is considered as much an art as the end product itself. even to the point of texture and stroke speed. brush-drawn Japanese language lends itself to complicated calligraphy. The written work can consist of phrases. Commonly confused with Calligraphy is the art form known as „Sumi-e‟ (墨絵) literally means „ink painting‟ which is the art of painting a scene or object. Native Japanese painting techniques are still in use today. the rendering of text itself is seen as a traditional art form as well as a means of conveying written information. stories. Sculpture . Chinese papermaking was introduced to Japan around the 7th century by Damjing and several monks of Goguryeo. The style and format of the writing can mimic the subject matter. This calligraphy form is known as „Shodo‟ ( 書道) which literally means „the way of writing or calligraphy‟ or more commonly known as „Shuji‟ (習字) „learning how to write characters‟. Calligraphy The flowing. as well as techniques adopted from continental Asia and from the West. later washi was developed from it.

they were available to a wide cross-section of the Japanese populace — those not wealthy enough to afford original paintings — during their heyday. literally "pictures of the floating world". The oldest sculpture in Japan is a wooden statue of Amitābha at the Zenkō-ji temple. Bronze and other metals are also used. most notably a colossal bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana in the Tōdai-ji temple. gilded. Statues are often lacquered. such as Tathagata. Buddhist statues were made by the national government to boost its prestige. or brightly painted. Architecture Japanese architecture has as long a history as any other aspect of Japanese culture. Other materials. These examples are seen in present-day Nara and Kyoto. it also develops many differences and aspects which are indigenous to Japan.Traditional Japanese sculptures mainly consisted of Buddhist images. along with the traditional Japanese architectures. such as stone and pottery. Bodhisattva and Myō-ō. Originally heavily influenced by Chinese architecture. . Because these prints could be mass-produced. In the Nara period. Wood has traditionally been used as the chief material in Japan. Shinto shrines and castles in Kyoto. from the 17th to 20th century. Ukiyo-e Ukiyo-e. have had extremely important roles in the plebeian beliefs. which are influenced from Zen ideas. although there are little traces on the surfaces. is a genre of woodblock prints that exemplifies the characteristics of pre-Meiji Japanese art. and Nara. Examples of traditional architecture are seen at Temples. Some of these buildings are constructed with traditional gardens.

it could also include foods whose ingredients or cooking methods were subsequently introduced from abroad. The most common neta is seafood. The modern term "Japanese cuisine" (nihon ryōri (日本料理?) or washoku (和食 ?)) means traditional-style Japanese food. . shun) quality of ingredients and presentation. 寿斗. such as Yoshio Taniguchi and Tadao Ando are known for their amalgamation of Japanese traditional and Western architectural influences. In a broader sense of the word. Japanese cuisine is known for its emphasis on seasonality of food (旬. 鮓. Tokyo alone has more Michelin stars than Paris.Some modern architects. Japanese cuisine Japanese cuisine has developed over the centuries as a result of many political and social changes throughout Japan. 壽司?) is a Japanese delicacy consisting of cooked vinegared rice (shari) combined with other ingredients (neta). most notably Western culture. The cuisine eventually changed with the advent of the Medieval age which ushered in a shedding of elitism with the age of shogun rule. 鮨. to Japan. 寿し. The Michelin Guide has awarded Japanese cities by far the most Michelin stars of any country in the world (for example. New York. similar to that already existing before the end of national seclusion in 1868. Raw meat sliced and served by itself is sashimi. LA and London combined) Sushi (すし、寿司. In the early modern era significant changes occurred resulting in the introduction of non-Japanese cultures. Hong Kong. Neta and forms of sushi presentation vary. but which have been developed by Japanese people who have made these methods their own. but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is shari.

Its fundamental importance to the country and its culture is reflected by the facts that rice was once used as a currency. donburi (どんぶ り. Some popular processed rice products are listed below. . Japanese rice is short grain and becomes sticky when cooked.Common staple foods found on a national level (Shushoku) Rice (gohan. and that the Japanese word for cooked rice gohan (御飯) or meshi (飯) also has the general meaning of "meal". sake. 御飯) Since its cultivation in Japan about 2000 years ago. Bread (pan. rice has been Japan's most important crop. A second major rice variety used in Japan is mochi rice. mochi. but since its introduction in the 19th century it has become common. with the outer portion of the grains (nuka) polished away. while a list of popular ways to use rice can be found here. Cooked mochi rice is more sticky than conventional Japanese rice. "bowl") and sushi Noodles (men-rui. Rice is processed and prepared in many different ways. but its popularity has been increasing recently because gemmai is more nutritious and healthier than hakumai. The literal meaning of breakfast (asagohan). or served chilled with a sauce for dipping. パン) Bread/Pan is not native to Japan and is not considered traditional Japanese food. 麺類) Noodles often take the place of rice in a meal. senbei. and it is commonly used for sekihan (cooked mochi rice with red beans). or for pounding into rice cakes. for example. wagashi. okayu. Unpolished rice (genmai) is considered less delicious by most people. Most rice is sold as hakumai ("white rice"). They are featured in many soup dishes. The word pan is a loanword originally taken from Portuguese. is "morning rice".

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