The Different Cultures of Japan

What is Japanese culture in the eye of a Japanese person? Her experience living in other countries made Miku appreciate and learn more about her culture. However, it also helped her realize that some parts of her culture don't align with her values. 

Miku shares with Nick her discoveries and realizations about her own culture.

Nick: What I love about your videos on YouTube is you don't just teach Japanese, you tie in Japanese culture, which I love. I love it when I meet Japanese people who are enthusiastic about their own culture, and you seem to be.

Outsiders see Japan as, you know, mysterious, fascinating, and even strange, with it's beautiful traditions, its long history and modern, quirky pop-culture. So how do you see your own culture?

Miku: That's a really interesting question. Because before I went through different countries, I didn't know so much about Japanese culture. I wasn't just aware, or I wasn't interested in it. I mean, yes, we learned in school, and we do like different traditions like mamemaki, shichi-go-san, or different traditions, right? 

We clap our hands in front of the shrine and pray on the first day of the year. But we never know why. They don't teach us why we do that, the reason behind it. I mean, of course, it depends on the family, depends on the person, but personally, I didn't know. 

And when I went to Spain, and I saw Japan objectively, and a lot of people asked me so many questions about Japanese culture, Shintoism, and Buddhism, I didn't know so much. So I was so ashamed. I was like, embarrassed that I didn't know. 

So that's when I started to learn. I started to realize that Japan is really, really unique and beautiful. As each country is unique and beautiful, I found so many deep culture. Like I started to learn sado, tea ceremony. 

And in there, there is the philosophy of ichigo ichie. Have you ever heard of it? So one life, one encounter: one lifetime, one encounter. It's not only meeting with people but also opportunities, and what you have in front of you, this experience, that I'm talking with you Nick, this is not going to repeat again. This is just going to be one time, so appreciate this moment, like this kind of philosophy. 

Also, Japanese people place importance on living with nature. It changed a lot after WWII, but it used to be like that – that's the core of Shintoism, like connecting with nature and appreciating nature, because nature is God. And those things I really love. 

At the same time, I see problems and things that don't align with my values: like honne and tatemae, your true feeling and your public face. In order not to offend anyone, you kind of try to say things that you don't think or those kinds of things, I feel a little bit that I don't feel aligned. 

So I learned so much about amazing things, and I also learned things that I don't have to follow anymore.