Japanese Culture Thi tran

The article "Early Japan" described that "Early in Japan's history, society was controlled by a ruling elite of powerful clans. The most powerful emerged as a kingly line and later as the imperial family in Yamato (modern Nara Prefecture or possibly in northern Kyushu) in the third century A.D., claiming descent from the gods who created Japan." Many Japanese believed that gods created Japan. Similar to the mythology of other ancient culture, ancient Japan believed in the role of ancestor worship and the role of spirits known as Shintoism.
Sushi is very popular in Japan and has all kinds of sushi. Miso soup is also very important in Japanese culture. They have miso soup in every meal(morning, lunch, dinner).

On April 1 Saturday in Los Angeles, I participated in an event called Sakura Ondo CA$H Dance Public Ondo / Bon Odori Cherry Blossom Festival. Even though it was only from 3pm to 4pm, I saw many dances. It was a great experience. I learned about Bon Odori, which is a very famous and traditional dance in Japanese culture. Bon Odori is a form of Japanese folk dancing. Basically it is “line dancing” danced in a circle by a large group of people. By following the Leader, dance steps are repetitive and dancers that do not know the steps to a dance at the beginning will know the steps by the end… No dance experience necessary just the willingness to participate in the spirit of culture and community. I have no dance experience, but I learned the dance quickly.

I went to a Japanese restaurant called mitsuwa in convoy street. Before going to the restaurant, I heard that Japanese people finish all of their food and also eat every pieces of rice. I felt a little bit awkward, but I walked around and tried to see their plates if it is true. I thought it was nice and clean. I also noticed how the Japanese cashier was very polite and bowed to me even though I am not Japanese. I didn't know how to react because of cultural barrier, but I still understood that he was trying to be respectful to me. For the interview, I asked my Japanese friend Akito Dukowitz if he eats all of his food and rice without anything on the plate. He said he eats all the rice pieces and when he sees other people not finish completely, he feels uncomfortable. He also described that one God lives in each rice piece, so if you leave 7 rice pieces, then that means you are throwing away 7 gods. That is how he was taught in his childhood.
Comparing my culture(Vietnamese) and Japanese culture- As mentioned above, Japanese people finish all of their food on their plate even all the pieces of rice. On the other hand, my culture usually leave some food left. The reason being is because Vietnamese people don't want people to think that they fat and eat too much. One time, my aunt told me that "The Pho in that restaurant was so good. I ate everything in my bowl but then I poured tea into the bowl to make it look like I didn't finish all because I felt shy"
Also, what I thought was cool about Japanese culture is that students walk to school. Because the crime rate is so low in Japan, even 1st graders walk from home to school and back(even if it takes 1 hour to school). On the other hand, Vietnamese students get a ride from parents. Even the US has school buses and most parents would not allow 1 graders to walk to school because it is dangerous.
What I found that is similar to my culture(Vietnamese) is nonverbal communication that is discussed in chapter 2 textbook. Just like Vietnamese, Japanese people try to avoid showing emotions in public. Silence is viewed as a time frame where people can think about what is being communicated. Vietnamese and Japanese people are also uncomfortable with physical contact such as hugs. Looking into someone straight in their eyes is considered rude and a means to a challenge. Japanese people will look down to show respect for the other person. If we compare all this to the US, it is completely different. Americans show emotions often, they are comfortable with physical contact, and looking into someone straight in the eye shows confidence. "Just like language, nonverbal communication varies from culture to culture." (Martin & Nakayama, 46)
I also learned that Japanese are serious about academics. They take everything seriously. "Cross-cultural trainers in the United States report that Japanese and other business personnel often spend years in the United States studying English and learning about the country before they decide to establish operations here or invest money. In contrast, many American companies provide little or no train- ing before sending their workers overseas and expect to close business deals quickly, with little regard for cultural idiosyncrasies. Many management experts have examined other countries’ practices for ways to increase U.S. productivity. One such idea was “quality circles,” borrowed from the Japanese and now popular in the United States. Another Japanese strength is the belief in effort for its own sake. Japanese employees work longer hours and sometimes produce better products simply as a result of persistence. This trait also pays off in schools: Japanese students score higher on standardized exams than do American students (Fallows, 1989)." (Martin & Nakayama, 18)
Chapter 5 discusses about how 9/11 affected people. "To be an American is to be proud. After September 11, a sense of patriotism swept through this country that I have never felt before. Growing up I heard about how patriotic the United States was during WW I and WW II, but I had never experienced it personally. After that day, it was as if racial, religious, and democratic differences had stopped. Even if that tension only stopped temporarily, the point is that it did stop. Our country came together to help, pray, and donate. The feeling of being an American is a sense of feeling and strength and pride. For others, the events of 9/11 led to more ambivalence about being “American”." (Martin & Nakayama, 170) I asked my Japanese friend Akito if he feels the same since there was a huge earthquake on March 11, 2011. He said that all the kind words and help from the world made him feel important and that the incident led to more ambivalence about being Japanese.


Nakayama, Thomas K., and Judith N. Martin. Intercultural Communication in Context. 5th ed. N.p.: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.

"Early Japan". SHSU Education. Apr 3, 2017.

Interviewer: Akito Dukowitz

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Thi Tran

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