Get Involved in Japanese Society

26/03/2015 Japanese Language  Traditions & History

The greetings used before and after meals, “Itadakimasu” and “Gochisosama”

Greeting during meals Before eating meals, Japanese people join their hands in front of their chest and greet by saying, “Itadakimasu”. After finishing a meal, the body form is the same, but the greeting is “Gochisosama”. Similarly, when praying to a god or an ancestor, Japanese people also hold their hands this way to show respect and to join their own mind and body. Some people don’t join their hands and only speak the greetings. Japanese people naturally say these greetings as part of day-to-day manners. What does “itadakimasu” mean? “Itadakimasu” is the polite form of “itadaku”,  which is a word to indicate modesty for taking and eating. Its origin comes […]

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17/12/2014 Seasonal Activities  Traditions & History

【WINTER】The ‘Nengajo’ Postcard: a heartwarming tradition of the Japanese New Year

Japanese people exchange Nengajo postcards as New Year Greetings, much like Western people sending Christmas cards to each other.

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05/11/2014 Manners

Something We are Taught Since Childhood: “Align your shoes when you take them off”

Take off your shoes when you enter a home In Japan, there is a custom where you take off the shoes you’ve worn outside when you enter a home. It is said that the custom originated due to the climate of Japan. The floors used to be built higher than the ground in order to keep good ventilation because it often rains and the humidity is high in Japan. Moreover, if you go inside a home with shoes soiled with rain and dust, the home’s interior will become dirty. Therefore, in Japan, a lifestyle has emerged where you take off your shoes at the entrance and directly sit on floors, […]

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20/04/2015 Everyday Life in Japan

Do you think we have more holidays than your country? Starting in 2016, we will have in total of 16 national holidays in Japan.

Next year we will have a new holiday on August 11th, called “Mountain day”. How many national holidays do you have in your country? In Japan, we’ll have in total of 16 public holidays to include 1 newly created holiday. It’s called “Mountain day,” designated for August 11th, and is the first national holiday set in August. The purpose of this day is to enjoy hiking and appreciate the benefits of mountains. In July, we have “Marine day”. These holidays are recognized as days to enjoy nature and to appreciate their benefits. The long holiday, “Golden Week” has come! In late April to early May, we’ll have a long holiday […]

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03/02/2016 Manners  Travel Tips

The dos and don’ts of bowing in Japan

In shops, in the streets, on the phone… You may have noticed that Japanese people bow all the time! Japan has a lot of hidden rules like where to stand in the escalators, are what to do with your shoes… But the manner of bowing is very visible. Ojigi, the “bow” is an essential manner for the Japanese people, especially when doing business. An adult who can’t properly bow will be labelled rude or childish. Although the “bow” is routinely used in Japan, there are nuances that even some Japanese people might ignore! If you intend to do business with Japanese people, it’s better to know the basics of the […]

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30/06/2014 Everyday Life in Japan  Manners

Escalator etiquette in Japan

The mysterious escalator etiquette of Japan The golden rule of escalator etiquette in the Tokyo area is that persons who ‘stand’ on the escalator are to stay on the left side while people who ‘walk’ the escalator stay on the right side. In the Osaka area it is the opposite. It is very mysterious! Why, you ask? During a 1970 exposition in Osaka, it is speculated that the custom of moving on the left side was derived from Europe and America because of all the western visitors at the expo. 【writer Rei】

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09/09/2014 Everyday Life in Japan  Manners

Standing in Line

We stand in line, it’s not because we like doing it but this is manner Every morning in the larger cities of Japan, trains are crowded with people going to work. Is it the same in your city? Despite the overflowing of people on the platforms, there isn’t any disorder because everyone lines up in an orderly fashion and nobody cuts in line or makes a fuss. Why do the Japanese line up so calmly despite everyone being in a rush in the morning? It’s because this is nothing new for the Japanese commuter and is a fact of everyday life that everyone accepts. Occasionally there are children that throw […]

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10/11/2015 Everyday Life in Japan

Learn Japanese from Wasabi’s one-on-one lesson, from *$47 per month on Skype!

Wasabi’s class

“Wasabi” is a new online Japanese language learning service that started in June of 2015. They match the needs of those who want to communicate with foreigners, with those who want to study and learn the Japanese language. Today, I’m going to introduce its amazing features!

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09/07/2014 Everyday Life in Japan

Smoking and Non-Smoking Areas

Smoking while walking in Japan is prohibited In Japan, designated smoking and non-smoking areas are located indoors as well as outdoors. Local governments throughout Japan set their own laws for designated smoking areas and you will find that in urban areas, smoking on sidewalks is commonly prohibited. No need to worry because, there are a lot established smoking areas available and they are clearly visible with signage that includes English. For example, train stations offer smoking booths that are usually located in areas near the entrance. 【writer Rei】

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15/04/2015 Traditions & History

‘Jyanken,’ the hand game used for choosing a winner.

Jyanken is the standard way to resolve any simple conflict! What kind of game do you use in your country to resolve any kind of disputes? We use the hand game Jyanken, a game of chance used to settle any difference(s) between two or more people. Jyanken is an easy game to choose a winner(s), requiring nothing but three simple hand gestures. If we can’t we decide on something of minor importance, someone will say, “Let’s decide by Jyanken.” The ‘Jyan-Ken-Pon’ chant! Janken is played by 2 or more people, with each person using one hand to make 1 of the 3 possible signs. The three hand signs are called […]

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15/09/2015 Traditions & History

What is “Respect for the elderly Day“? It’s literally a day to show respect to all elderly people!

Respect for the Elderly Day

Keirou-no-hi, or Respect for the elderly day is one of the Japan’s national holidays. It was started through caring for elders in Japan. When and how was it started, and what does it mean?

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