DESTINATION: Japanese Culture


DESTINATION JAPAN


The ancient Japanese culture is rich in family-honoring rituals and customs. Japan has been able to temper the effect of other cultures for many years since it is an island nation. This made it possible for the lovely Land of the Rising Sun to have its own culture and heritage.
Details from the life of your Japanese ancestors will enliven your family stories with major milestones, festivals, and distinctive attire.

Japanese Family Traditions and Rites of Passage

Shintoism and Buddhism are two significant religions that have an impact on Japanese customs and culture. For more than 2,000 years, Shintoism has been practiced in Japan. Shintoism is just the belief in kami (gods). Since Shintoism places a strong emphasis on rituals, some Japanese might not consider it to be a religion at all but rather a way to honor several social traditions in Japan. Because of this, Shinto practices and Buddhism may coexist harmoniously.

Hatsu Miyamairi: a Cultural Rite of Passage

Hatsu Miyamairi, or Omiyamairi, meaning “shrine visit,” is a priceless family custom for a newborn baby’s close relatives. For this unique rite of passage, the baby’s parents or grandparents take him to a Shinto shrine. This Japanese Shinto custom expresses appreciation for the birth of the child and is traditionally carried out 33 days after the birth of a girl and 31 days after the birth of a male.
Babies are typically carried by their grandmother and clad in a beautiful white frock or white kimono. The shrine priest offers a prayer for the infant’s wellbeing.

Seijin No Hi

Seijin no Hi, or Coming of Age Day, is another tradition in Japanese society. It is celebrated every year on the second Monday in January to welcome those who have reached the age of 20 into adulthood.
Since AD 714, when a young prince changed into new robes and altered his hairdo to signify his transition into adulthood, Seijin no Hi has been practiced in Japan.
New adults congregate on this celebratory day and listen to uplifting speeches from elected officials.

Kanreki Rite of Passage

People don’t typically view becoming older as a cause for celebration in many cultures. Being 60 years old in Japan is a cause for celebration!
Kanreki, which means “return” and “calendar,” refers to going back to your first cycle; in conventional calendars, a person turning 60 has finished one cycle.
The celebrant man or woman wears a vivid red vest and headgear, sits on a red couch, and receives a white fan to mark kanreki. To support the wish that the birthday person would live a long and healthy life in a “second childhood,” food, gifts, and decorations are all red in hue.

Japanese Life in the Home

A kamidana or butsudan, which are house altars or shrines, and tatami mats, which are floors made of rush and cotton, are just a few of the highly distinctive features that distinguish traditional Japanese homes and give them their characteristic appearance.
Home altars and shrines are used for worship and to show respect to ancestors. A butsudan altar, which resembles a cabinet, is frequently used by Buddhists. A Buddha statue, candlesticks, incense, bells, and a spot to make gifts on the altar are frequently found in the cabinet.
A kamidana is a tiny Shinto shrine that is kept inside. The shrine contains amulets or talismans. White pieces of paper are suspended from a rope over the top, similar to traditional shrines seen in cities and towns. This rope and paper demonstrate the shrine’s cleanliness to the kami, or god. Vases, candlesticks, and white plates for food, sake, and water offerings may also be present.

Visitors must first pass through the genkan, a lowered platform made of pressed soil or concrete, before entering a Japanese residence. They take off their shoes at the genkan and put on indoor slippers before rising to enter the house. Visitors who do not have slippers must carefully take off their shoes so that their socks do not contact the genkan before stepping inside the house. Within the house, washi paper walls divide the various rooms. These movable walls may be moved to create extra room as needed, and they can even aid in controlling the temperature of the house. A paper wall doesn’t offer much privacy, as you might expect. Because of this, modern Japanese homes frequently have thicker walls.
The tokonoma is another distinguishing feature of Japanese homes. A slightly elevated alcove that serves as this focal point is typically decorated with a hanging scroll, pottery, and floral arrangements. The tokonoma’s artwork and flowers may occasionally be changed to reflect the seasons or a special occasion. A seat in front of the tokonoma is regarded as an honor seat saved for visitors and the family head.
The engawa, a lengthy passageway, may also be found in a traditional Japanese house. The engawa, which often connects the living space with the garden, is available for you to stroll down. It’s the ideal spot to unwind on a nice, sunny day.

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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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