How the Cultures of Japan and America Differ?


Japan and America
America has always been 'land of the free'. It has always been run as a democracy and had strong opinions about freedom of speech. Japan on the other hand has undergone many different forms of government throughout the years, including dictatorship, communism, and now a democracy. (Japan also still has an emperor, but he does not get a say in any politics.) Aside from government, Japan and America found themselves on opposing sides during World War Two, and now they are close political allies. Now, the question is, how can two nations with such different cultures, and who harbored such hostility for each other, become so close? To answer this question, you first have to ask yourself, are the two cultures really that different? When comparing religion, manners, and cuisine, you can see just how different the two cultures are, you may also understand the phrase 'opposites attract'.

When it comes to religious beliefs in Japan, the most common religion is Shinto. In the Shinto religion, believers believe one; When a person dies they become a part of nature that make up everything including trees, waterfalls, rocks, and even the wind, and two; They should not honor their religion through script or bible reading, but instead through celebrations, prayers, and shrines. This is why when an ancestor dies, instead of holding a funeral, a shrine is made in the closest relative's home of the person who died, and prayer is given at that shrine to keep evil spirits away and to honor the dead ancestor.

The Shinto religion is very different from America's number one religion, Christianity. In Christianity, believers hold strong to the opinion that there is only one God, and he is the creator of all things on earth. Christian's show loyalty through their faith by bible and script reading, and going to church at least one time minimum during a week. Another difference between the two religions is in Christianity, when someone dies, a shrine is not built. Instead, a funeral is held and family and friends all gather together to mourn their loss. It is believed that the spirit of the deceased goes to heaven or hell depending on what type of person they were in life and not turned into a part of nature. It is clear when it comes to religious beliefs, Christianity is a bit more strict, however, that is not the case when it comes to manners.

In Japan, there are many things a person can do that would be considered rude. For instance, if you are going to someone's home in Japan it is polite to take your shoes off before you enter the home. The owner of the home normally has slippers for the guest to wear around the house because it is also rude to walk around the house in your bare feet. During any meal time in Japan, there are also a lot of impolite things that can be done. A few examples are, pouring yourself a drink before anyone eating with you, wasting food, and not knowing how to use chopsticks properly. All these things can be considered very offensive. In America, manners are a bit more laid back. When entering someone's home it is not considered rude to keep your shoes on, and when eating meals with other Americans it is not rude to fend for yourself and get your food or drink first. America runs on a 'first come, first serve basis'.

Another difference between the two cultures is the cuisine. Japanese families eat a lot of rice, noodles, and a variety of veggies. The main meat they consume is fish or seafood. American's eat a lot more meat and a lot less rice and the main meats are beef, pork, and chicken.

Having said this, the question remains, how did America and Japan become so politically close when their cultures are so very different? From the language, the clothing, the food, the religion, the utensils, and everything in between, nothing seems the same between the two nations, aside from the fact they have found they can work together in harmony. This is the reason they have become so close, the two nations compliment each other and pride themselves on having strong nations where government, religion, manners, and cuisine are so different from each other yet they sustain the people and allow each nation to function. Also, ever since 'World War Two', America has been Japan's line of defense, therefore, making any hostility which Japan had for America during 'World War Two' as void.

Written by : Shannon Garcia, United States

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

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