Japan is a link of islands located just east of Korea. Artifacts and bones archieologists have uncovered from ancient Japan have shown that the islands have been inhabited since about 10,000 B.C. Today, Japan is a big attraction for many tourists and is known for its technological advancements, interesting history, and unique culture.
CULTURE: The Japanese culture revolves around pleasing each other, making it hard for hard for most Japanese to say or receive a simple "no". They also don't show much emotion; PDA is usually frowned upon and you can be confronted for it (most likely by elderly, they tend to not have a problem with calling someone out for doing something they find disrespectful or wrong and are given much respect ). Something common in the urban parts of Japan is a "sento" which is a bath house that resembles and acts more like a social spa. The male and females are usually separated. Bath houses are commonly visited by those living in apartments because of the living space. Since Japan has a big population, houses are not common and living spaces tend to be really small. Rice is a big part of their diet: it is served for lunch, dinner, and even breakfast. Rice is an ancient food for Japan and is such an old part of their culture that even as Japan continues to modernize, rice remains as their most consumed food. Religion is private and involves family only. It has become a topic that is rarely conversed and aren't even a huge part in many Japanese people's lives. Of those who are religious, Shintoism and Buddhism are the most practiced religions, but it is common for people not to be able to say the difference between them and can be mistaken for one another. Buddhism came first, arriving in Japan from Tibet, Vietnam, China, and eventually Korea. As oppose to Shintoism which focuses on everything from the trees to the animals and the mountains having their own god (or kami), Buddhism focuses on the passing of souls and the after life (Shinto only got a name once Buddhism had arrived) . Japanese pop culture includes anime, manga, J-pop and J-rock (Japanese pop and rock), and cosplay (as shown above, dressing up as your favorite real or fictional characters from books, movies, cartoons, etc.).
SOCIAL: When it comes to being social, they aren't much different from Americans. But a few things set us apart. They tend to only hang out with people they are close to and go with the crowd when it comes to liking activities and having opinions. They tend to hang out with the same gender. All though Japanese shy away from being out going, karaoke bars are common and no matter the singing skill, you will be applauded for your effort. Japanese also have a weird and dark sense of humor, their jokes usually involving death or suffering, but puns are a big hit too. Even popular game shows will have their contestants put through dangerous situations and activities, sometimes even punishing them if they fail (electrocution can be one of those punishments). An example of this is a game show in which a woman had tied a piece of meat tied to her and dragged it behind her as she was chased by a komodo dragon...... no prize is worth that (seen above). Gossip is very popular too. Japanese gossip magazines can be compared to or can be even worse than the gossip magazines published in the U.S. In fact, a weekly published magazine company named Manichi had started translating their magazines into English and started to get a lot of attention. This started to make many Japanese uncomfortable; Japanese enjoy their gossip as long as it is kept private.
EDUCATION AND SCHOOL LIFE: In Japan, school usually starts at 8:00 am and ends at 3:30, but almost all students participate in after school clubs and activities for extra-curricular reasons or for fun. A school week usually lasts 5 days but sometimes includes Saturdays (most often a half day). There are ten subjects: Biology, Mathematics, HPE (Health + Physical Education), Home economics, Information + Technology, and Social Studies + Economics. They learn every subject in one classroom and the teacher (usually standing on a platform) will teach from the front of the class. The most that the kids do is take notes from what the teacher has written and questions are rarely asked (and are usually asked after class with a school mate or teacher). When a student addresses a teacher, or vice versa, they aren't addressed by first names but by their last name and then "san", which is used for "Mrs.", "Ms.", and "Mr.". Most schools don't have a cafeteria, so students gather in their school rooms to eat. Most kids bring a packed lunch, but those who eat food from the school serve food for themselves after the lunch ladies have prepared the food. There is only one thing on the menu, and the students all equally portion their lunch. After that, they clean their classrooms. The schools don't have any janitors, so the students clean their classrooms every day and before coming into school, they must take off their shoes and put on clean, indoor shoes. The school year ends in March but starts back up again on April 1st as it is marked as the beginning of Spring and the start of leaves on the sakura (cherry blossoms) to blossom, but homework is still given during this break and some classes go on through the entire year. But as organized, respectful, and how productive they sound, they face great stress. With their parents pushing them to do great in school, having no freetime due to extracurricular activities and homework, and the suprisingly severe bullying problem, stress is common and is the cause of Japan being on the top 10 list of countries with the highest suicide rates. In fact, every year the day in which the suicide rate is the highest is on the first day of school. When it comes to bullying in Japan, it is ruthless. Japanese practically live by the saying "the nail that sticks up gets hammered down" because the Japanese are very group orientated and discourage being unique. And so, anything that stands out about you can get you bullied, from a unique haircut to things you like, to weight and even your birthplace, you can be mocked.