Japan: A Cultural Whirlwind

The far-east Asian country of Japan, popularly called the “Land of the Rising Sun”, is known for its many cultural contributions to the world. It is a small but powerful part of the Asian world. The word ‘festival’ seems to partially justify the sheer amount of trends the country has to offer, and this article is nothing but a minuscule effort to do justice to the rest.

To the youth, Japan is probably known for its sophisticated technology and cultural exports; the older generations, on the other hand, remember it for the tragic and unfortunate nuclear attacks that took place on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Despite these scars, the picture that Japan paints today is magnificent and mesmerizing. Let’s tread slowly and fully paint the beautiful imagery of Nippon/Nihon (Japan 日本)

Beginning with its geography, the country is an archipelago of more than six thousands islands located in the extreme east of the great Pacific Ocean. Japan’s name itself is a greater representation of its pride in its placement, as it means “the Sun’s origin”.

Coming to its past, interestingly, Japan’s history of wars was one of the many inspirations for Asian colonies to revolt against their respective colonists; particularly India. Japan’s victory in the war against Russia in the early 20th century was the first of its kind, as well as an encouragement to manifest the Revolt of 1857 against the British Raj. Japan succoured Asian colonies indirectly, eradicating the myth that European colonists were undefeatable. Japan imparted courage to fellow Asians to fight against the slave-masters that had been showering various atrocities on them.

Despite its many glories, Japan’s history also serves as a tragic reminder of the tragedies of Pearl Harbor and, subsequently, Nagasaki and Hiroshima. One of the most interesting facts that surface in light of the same is that Japan is one of the few major countries that do not have a standing army.

Despite this, Japan has focused all its might into becoming a technological giant among the countries of the world. Technologically advanced Japan is currently one of the largest providers of electronic and automotive products in the world, with internationally famous brand names such as Fujifilm, Canon, Sony, Nintendo, Panasonic, Toyota, Nissan and Honda to its credit.

Not only this, Japan’s anime and manga culture are widely known to all comic lovers. Its contribution to arts is one of the many qualities Japanese culture is known for. The trend of anime and manga along with video games, popular in Japan as well as internationally, denotes the supreme synthesis of its art and its technology.

The country is host to an incredible number of mountains; hence, it also has one of the highest numbers of volcanos, with quite a few active ones. Its peaks and natural formations offer delight, wonder, and adventure to those who love trekking. A few must-take treks are Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage routes (Kii Hanto), Shiretoko (Hokkaido), Shikoku Henso Pilgrimage (Shikoku Island), Summit Hotaka-dake (Japanese Alps, Main Island), Summit Yarigatake (Japanese Alps, Nagano) and Summit Mount Fuji (Shizuoka, Main Island). This article would be lacking without a mention of Japanese cherry blossoms, the pink flowers that will bloom love for the country in your heart.

Speaking of its traditional heritage, there seems to be no end to the experiences that one can indulge in this wonderful country. Geishas, the long-standing tea ceremony, the theatrical art of Kabuki, the culturally-abundant rich of Shintoism and Buddhism, various martial art forms, the flowers arrangement art known as Ikebana, Sumo fighting – the national sport, and the very origin of Karaoke, these are all only the tip of the iceberg.

These physical and cultural attractions are a mere prelude to the country, which is so rich and unique in everything that it stands for.

The literary world has recently witnessed a boom of Japanese voices lately, with Murakami, Kazuo Ishiguro and Keigo Higashino, amongst others, taking the world by a storm; leaving behind bits and pieces of Japan lodged in the minds of readers across the world. These writers have sparked a curiosity about the average Japanese, rendering Japan a country that requires exploration beyond just the touch-and-go tourist experience.

The many cultures and societies of the world can learn a lot from Japan; of its expert synchronization of the past and the present; its culture saturated with ancient traditions, blended with the technological innovations and trends of the present. The assimilating nature of this rich civilisation is a perfect blend of tradition and contemporary credo. With its ever-evolving vigour, Japan offers a bout of freshness, aiming to revolutionize the prevailing orthodoxy of newer societies. It stands in stark contrast to the revival of the extreme right in many European countries. The takeaway from this little, virtual trip to Japan should ideally be a motivation for you to turn it into something bigger, perhaps an avidity of travelling.

Focusing on Literature and Lifestyle of the Urban Youth of the Country, LitGleam is a monthly magazine, an intrinsic part of BlueRose Publishers.

Within its pages, our readers find provocative essays on literature and lifestyle, guidance for getting published and pursuing writing careers, in-depth profiles of poets, fiction writers, and writers of creative nonfiction, and conversations among fellow professionals.

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