Dan Rang - Jun 27, 2022
Listen to this article 00:05:04
Your browser doesn’t support HTML5 audio

In Japan, more than in other destinations, the traveler often feels more than disoriented, sometimes totally lost. Decode the habits and customs of this amazing country with ten traditions that make it unique. Tourism review discovers the top 10 traditions that make the culture of the country distinctive and attractive to visitors to Japan.

1/ The Art of the Garden

In Japan, the composition of a garden is an ancient tradition. This important and respected art form shares the aesthetic codes of calligraphy and wash painting (a single-color painting technique). It follows three principles: the reproduction of nature in miniature, symbolism and the capture of landscapes. Westerners are particularly surprised by the dry gardens or "Zen gardens", composed of rocks, moss and gravel.

2/ Manga, the World Upside Down

Manga is a Japanese comic book that has its followers all over the world. Outside the archipelago, there are many Manga fans in the U.S. and Europe,  the French are those who buy Manga the most. This comic book is read from right to left. 60% of Japanese read at least one comic book a week. So many of them are published at such a rate that most of them are in black and white.

3/ Sumo Giants

Along with judo, sumo (literally "to hit each other") is the fighting sport in Japan. Sumo is the subject of professional tournaments that are broadcasted on television. However, over the last few years, the discipline is in clear decline. A wrestler, who necessarily belongs to a "stable", weighs an average of 150 kilograms. It should be noted that Europeans have now managed to slip into the crowd of fighters.

4/ Ikebana, the Art of Bringing Flowers to Life

Ikebana (literally "the art of bringing flowers to life") could be summarized as the art of the bouquet. If in Western countries, a bouquet must first of all be abundant and full of colors, the floral composition aims here at creating a harmony of linear construction, rhythm and colors. Ikebana favors pure forms. The structure of the floral arrangement is based on three main points symbolizing the sky, the earth and humanity through the three pillars, asymmetry, space and depth.

5/ The Tea Ceremony, the Art of Living

It's just a matter of serving tea to a small number of guests in a quiet setting. But the moment is so solemn that, to Westerners, it feels like a ceremony. Inspired in part by Zen Buddhism, the tea ceremony follows a precise rite during which powdered green tea or matcha is prepared in a codified manner by an experienced practitioner. The practice of tea, extremely codified, is taught in schools. Its study can take several years. A lifetime according to some...

6/ The Mystery of Geisha

Europeans have long considered them as courtesans or demi-mondaines. A mistake... Geisha is a woman of high rank. And the nuance is important. Geisha masters the art of conversation, knows how to play an instrument, is an expert in the tea ceremony... As times change, geisha are now rare. There are only 200 left in the archipelago, the most numerous being in the Gion district of Kyoto.

7/ Haiku, Poetry in Its Purest Form

"Matsuo Basho and the sound of hooves" or "The rainy season and the sea lighthouse". These are two examples of haiku, a short poem celebrating the evanescence of things and the sensations it provokes. By definition, a haiku often evokes a season (the kigo) and must include a caesura (the kireji). In short, it is pure poetry.

8/ Noh Enters the Scene

Noh theatre mixes song and dance. Born at the end of the 13th century, it is based on a religious and aristocratic conception of life. The stage only welcomes men. Once the surprise is over, you are likely to get bored. The pace is slow. And some performances can last more than three hours. To make matters worse, most of the plays turn tragic and end in tears.

9/ The Origami Takes the Good Fold

Origami (which simply means "paper folding" in Japanese) has been widely exported. It comes from Asia, China and Japan offering different variants. Simple principle. Some of them are like real works of art. For example, Gérard Ty Sovann, a Frenchman from Cambodia, made it into the Guinness Book of Records for "Garden of Eden", a giant origami made of 1,500 folded papers. One of the most famous shapes is the famous Japanese crane.

10/ The Contemplative Hanami

Hanami (literally "looking at flowers") is one of the symbols of the country attracting visitors to Japan. It simply consists in appreciating the beauty of flowers. How can we not think here of the cherry blossoms whose white magic takes hold of the archipelago between the end of March and the beginning of April. For many Japanese, it is also the occasion to meet under the cherry trees to picnic, sing or just have a good time.

Related articles


Add Comment