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.

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

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

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

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

This tradition was originated when the farmers thanked the Rice Paddock God for the good summer crop. The Dance movement is simple and repetitive. Unlike traditional Western wedding dresses. the local community enjoys Bon-Odori (dance) in the near-by park or playground. The dance is very simple. You can see many beautiful competitors from the Yukata competition During summer evenings everywhere in Japan. that have train or material that flows along the ground at the back of the dress. the Uchikake is long all the way around. you can learn within a few minutes practice! It‟s absolutely fun! ”Yukata is a Japanese informal summer kimono. 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. The Japanese bride has to be assisted by one of her attendants to walk in this kimono. Japanese Dance Bon Odori Bon-odori” is a Japanese traditional summer dance festival.

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

It is tuned for different songs by movable bridges of ivory or plastic. The koto is played with ivory plectrum on the thumb and the first two fingers of the right hand. 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. Many Japanese legends refer to the origins of the koto. In the early Edo period (around the 17th century). . sookyoku began to emerge. a charmed and mythical creature of ancient Japan and China. dulcimer and lute. (Photographs from the Japan Festival Melbourne 2002. The thirteen strings of the koto are stretched along a soundboard of nearly two metres made of hollowed-out paulownia timber. A popular one says that the koto was formed in the shape of crouching dragon. 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. gagaku. The music ranges from the simplicity of the traditional to the melodic as well as challenging contemporary pieces. The strings were traditionally made of silk. nowadays synthetic. the left hand applying pressure to vary the pitch.harp. Click on image to enlarge). By the 15th century. sookyoku was a popular source of entertainment for the wealthy merchant classes. solo repertoires for koto.

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

Calligraphy The flowing. Sculpture . The style and format of the writing can mimic the subject matter.Visual arts Painting Painting has been an art in Japan for a very long time: the brush is a traditional writing tool. However in East Asian countries. 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‟. 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. brush-drawn Japanese language lends itself to complicated calligraphy. or even single characters. stories. 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. as well as techniques adopted from continental Asia and from the West. even to the point of texture and stroke speed. and the extension of that to its use as an artist's tool was probably natural. Calligraphic art is often too esoteric for Western audiences and therefore general exposure is very limited. later washi was developed from it. Chinese papermaking was introduced to Japan around the 7th century by Damjing and several monks of Goguryeo. the rendering of text itself is seen as a traditional art form as well as a means of conveying written information. poems.

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

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

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