9 Fascinating Japanese Traditions to See

Japan is a country rich in history and tradition. From the grace of a tea ceremony to the excitement of sumo wrestling, there are many unique customs to experience. Here are 9 fascinating Japanese traditions that will amaze and delight visitors.

1. Omotenashi (Hospitality)

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Omotenashi refers to the Japanese way of providing hospitality that anticipates the needs of guests without being asked. This can be seen everywhere from restaurants and hotels to everyday encounters. The deep-rooted approach to service in Japan often goes beyond what most foreigners expect, focusing on meticulous attention to detail and selfless service.

2. Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing)

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Hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, is a highly celebrated occasion in Japan that occurs during the brief blooming season of cherry trees. Families, friends, and coworkers gather under blooming cherry blossoms for picnics and parties. This tradition is not just about enjoying the beautiful flowers but also reflects the Japanese aesthetic of appreciating the fleeting nature of beauty.

3. Capsule Hotels

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Originally introduced in Osaka in 1979, capsule hotels feature a large number of extremely small “rooms” or capsules intended to provide cheap, basic overnight accommodation for guests who do not require the services offered by more conventional hotels. These facilities are unique to Japan and offer a novel experience for many visitors.

4. Public Bathing in Onsen and Sento

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Onsen (hot springs) and sento (public bathhouses) are integral parts of Japanese culture. Bathing in these communal spaces is not only for cleaning oneself but also for relaxing and socializing. The experience can be a surprise for those unfamiliar with communal bathing, but it’s deeply rooted in Japanese tradition.

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5. Vending Machines for Everything

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Japan’s vending machines are legendary, offering an astonishing array of products from hot meals and drinks to clothing and even electronics. The ubiquity and variety of these machines can be quite surprising to first-time visitors.

6. Removing Shoes Indoors

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In Japan, it is customary to remove one’s shoes before entering someone‚Äôs home, certain traditional accommodations, and even some public buildings like schools and temples. This practice, which is rooted in the desire to keep the indoor environment clean, often takes visitors by surprise.

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7. Shinkansen (Bullet Trains)

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The Shinkansen, or bullet trains, are a marvel of modern technology and efficiency. These high-speed trains connect major cities across Japan at speeds that can exceed 300 km/h (186 mph). The punctuality and frequency of the Shinkansen can be quite surprising for visitors from countries where train travel is less reliable.

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8. Greeting Etiquette

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The Japanese practice of bowing in greeting, rather than shaking hands or hugging, can be unexpected for many visitors. The depth and duration of a bow can indicate the level of respect or sentiment being expressed, which adds a nuanced layer to communication.

9. Kawaii Culture

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Kawaii, meaning “cute” in Japanese, is a cultural phenomenon that permeates many aspects of Japanese life, from fashion and food to everyday goods and public announcements. The prevalence and acceptance of cute designs in serious settings can be both surprising and charming to foreign visitors.

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