Japanese traditions stem from their deep roots in religions.
Two main religions dominate the Japanese culture: Buddhism and
practices and beliefs in Japan stemmed from practices in China and were
very similar to those in China. Buddhist
teachings came from the Sutras and from the Vinaya—rules for monastic
life. The “Buddhacharita”
or “Acts of the Buddha” is a mix of historical information and
religious instruction that helped structure the religion’s beliefs.
Four Noble Truths (Content of the first sermon of the Buddha)
Life is full of sorrow because it is inevitably associated with
sickness, old age, and death.
Sorrow is due to craving—happy moments are always fleeting and
you can never rely on them.
Sorrow can only be stopped by ceasing craving.
Ceasing craving can only be done by the eight-fold path that leads
out of suffering.
The Five Precepts (The simplest form of Buddhist morality that was
intended for the leifolk, not monks and nuns.)
No sexual misconduct
No use of intoxicants
believes in kami or spirits that are anything out of the ordinary or
awe-inspiring. There are four
types of kami in Japanese society:
Nature Kami (sun goddess and the star goddess) are the most common.
2. Kami that protect the uji
3. Hero kami (great marshal men, scholars, and poets
Kami of locales (areas that kami presided over)
to Shinto beliefs, when bad things happen they are due to unhappy kami and
so they use rituals to appease the kami.
These rituals have four components:
Purification- before one can approach the sacred a cleansing
process must be completed
Offerings- gifts for the kami such as cloth, water, food, and dance
are expected at a ritual ceremony
Prayer- the recital of magic, certain words and sounds that are
repeated again and again
Sacred Meal- a communal meal is eaten after the ritual is performed
to promote health and healing
*The above information on religion was gathered through a series of lectures by Professor Paul Watt at DePauw University.
· The tea is a bitter green tea called Matcha and when mixed with water it creates a warm bitter taste. The combination of the bitter and sweet compliment each other and are a sign of harmony.
a. When you recieve your chawan--cup of tea--you should bow.
Take the tea with your right hand and place it in the palm of
your left hand
Turn the chawan clockwise three times before you take a drink
When the tea is gone, make a loud slurp to show the host that
the tea was truly enjoyed
Wipe the part of the chawan your lips touched with your right
f. Turn the chawan counterclockwise and return it to the host
The above tea ceremony information was gathered from www.city.kanazawa.ishikawa.jp/bunka/trad/way/tea/teaE.htm and also researchpapers.hypermart.net/art/Japanese%20Tea%20Ceremony.html
Kabuki drama combined elements of no drama and folk theater. Dance was the basis of performances and the musical dance dramas that developed revolved around stories that were romantic and often erotic performed by women. It was then decided that they were too erotic to be performed by women and men’s troupes were formed to impersonate the women and do the performances.
These small exerps on Japanese Theater were taken from Professor Steve Timm's History of Theater class at DePauw University.
more information on Japanese Theater please visit: gojapan.about.com
and select traditions/culture
The following information on Japanese Holidays was gathered from Griffin and Shurgin's The Folklore of World Holidays
In Japan, the celebration of the New Year is the most
significant and important holiday. During
this time they begin the New Year with a clean slate, spend time with
family and friends and prepare for the events of the New Year.
In preparation for the New Year the Japanese clean their
houses thoroughly, discard of any items that are not needed any more and
pay all outstanding debts so that they are able to start the New Year
Repairs to the house are made
Old items in need of replacement are replaced
When the cleaning is finished members of the household take a
hot bath to finish the cleansing process
For the first three days of the New Year businesses are
closed and the time is used to visit family and friends.
· The first day of the New Year is a day to give thanks for the events of the past and pray for the future.
The arrival is announced to the country by all of the bells
of the Buddhist temples.
The second day is a ritual commencement to the arts and
crafts of ones favorite pursuit.
Another ritual of the New Year revolves around the dream of
the second night of the year (it is not the dream of the first night
because that night is too filled with spirits).
The desired dream is of a boat bringing wealth to one’s family.
This is also the time in Japan where cards are sent to family
members and friends, sharing with them stories of the past year and
wishing them the best in the New Year.
of Age Day—January 15
In keeping with a time honored tradition, the Japanese
ceremony for every young person who turns 20 over the year.
The heads of local government give ceremonial speeches to celebrate
and commemorate the occasion. The
holiday was created in 1948 because at the age of 20 in Japan young people
receive the right to vote, drink, and smoke but they are also considered
adults and must uphold the responsibilities of an adult.
no Hi/ Higan no Chu-Nichi (Vernal Equinox Day and Autumnal Equinox)
Since World War II about half of the households in Japan have
begun to celebrate Christmas
The Japanese traditionally celebrate with a Christmas cake
called a decoration cake. The
cake is made by bakeries and ordered very far in advance of the Christmas
· Santa Claus is a figure in their Christmas traditions
and is called “Grandfather Santa Claus”
· Japanese children hang their stockings to be filled by Santa
Claus by the bathtub because believe they that Santa Claus comes down the
Decoration and Celebration:
In decorating their homes the Japanese generally have sparsely
decorated trees that do not serve as a center of attention during the
· The parties at Christmas time differ from other parties in the masculine dominated society because women are allowed to come and revel with the men. Christmas is seen as a more democratic holiday because it is geared towards both sexes and not of religious origins.
While Christmas is celebrated by many Japanese families it is
viewed more as a time to give and receive presents rather than a religious
holiday because so few Japanese families are Christian.
folklore gives glimpses of morals, lifestyles and values in Japan.
Below are links to a few sites on Japanese folktales.