Saturday, March 19, 2011

Learning more about Japan

Currently and over the last few weeks the world has been tracking the devastating news in Japan. As I have been following the relief efforts and day-by-day coverage I have been praying for all those directly and indirectly effected. In situations like these I feel it is just as important to know about the current events, but also to remind your self what wonderful features a person, in this case a country, has to offer.

Being a 23 year old student from Canada with little money to travel I have realized I know very little about Japan, other then the basics. Personally I have felt an incline to rapidly learn more about the country behind what is being covered in the news. In this blog I would like to educate others on three interesting facts I have found while researching more about the country of Japan.

“Japanese celebrate Christmas, but it is more like Valentine's Day in the western world” Facts. “About .5% of the Japanese population is estimated to be Christian, with the majority of Japanese being tolerant of all faiths: Buddhism, Christianity, Shinto, etc.” They are embrasures of several different festivals and celebrations and tend to celebrate Christmas on more of a commercial level. Dec. 23 is there national holiday for the present emperor’s birthday and Jan. 1 is the most important holiday in Japan for New Years (shogatsu of oshogatsu). Many businesses will remain closed until Jan. 3. If only Canada would set a three-day holiday and we could spend more time with the family like Japan does. Part of the reason why Jan. 1 is a major holiday is because Japanese traditionally view each year as completely separate, providing a fresh start. They have a belief that all duties should be completed before the New Year and the parties are called “bonenkai parties” meaning “year forgetting parties”.

“Sometimes the trains are so crowded railway staff are employed to cram passengers inside” Facts. This is not surprising since Japan has over 127 million people, making them the tenth-largest population in the world. The Yamanote line in Tokyo carries between three to four million passengers everyday. During rush hour “tushy pushers” shove people into trains. So if you go to Japan remind yourself this is normal someone may touch your tushy while on a subway if your close to the door.

“Vending machines in Japan sell beer, hot and cold canned coffee, cigarettes, and other items” Facts. Japan has one of the world’s highest vending machine densities. Many of the machines will only sell your typical pop, juice, vitamin or energy drinks, while others sell alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. On a smaller scale it is possible to find ice cream, rice, disposable cameras, instant noodles in a vending machine.

I hope some of these facts have enticed people to learn more about Japan.
My heart goes out to all those have been affected by the disasters happening in Japan. 

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  1. Interesting facts! I too didn't know much about Japan. Great blog!

  2. That's really neat. I haven't traveled either, so I'm not really cultured but I find other cultures to be very interesting and I agree that it's really sad about what happened to Japan.

  3. During difficult times, I find it great to pay tribute to Japan's unique culture. I feel there is so much to learn about their culture and others as well. Its always nice to learn something new about different countries.

  4. I spent a month in Niigata, Japan after high school. It was part of a large exchange, wherein two Japanese boys my age came to St. Catharines the summer before. We also spent a week in Tokyo.

    Japan is one of the most unique and fascinating places on Earth. The culture is so different than our own. I certainly went through a great deal of culture shock (including seeing underwear for sale in vending machines). When the trip was over, I never wanted to leave. I hope to get a chance to return one day, and still keep in touch with many of the wonderful people I met there. I've been thinking about them especially in the wake of the recent tragedy. Thank you for reminding me of a lot of the most memorable parts of my trip.

  5. I have always been curious about other cultures, but this post has made me realize I don't put in enough effort. I read an article the morning of the diaster, and it made me very sad. I am thinking of those effected by the tragedy.

  6. Kait, I think it was a great idea to highlight Japan's culture at a time like this. I learned a lot from your post and it makes what is happening there more real. Thanks

  7. wow it would be awesome to have vending machines here that served more than just soft drinks and junk food.