Understanding Formal Etiquette in Japanese Culture
The Japanese cultural tradition involves deep emphasis on formal etiquette. The cultural tradition includes a detailed and inquisitive analysis of the aspects of portraying gestures such as bowing down upon each meeting of interaction in a social setting, expressing gratitude for activities and elements one observes in their daily lives such as three square meals in a day and other gestures depicting immense respect and dignity offered to individuals and objects in the Japanese culture. In addition, they also remove their shoes upon entering the house, be it their own or of someone else, as matter of respect and honor. It is a really remarkable and commendable practice of bowing down to each individual one encounters in social as well as formal settings in Japan since it conveys deeply the dignity and respect one offers to any individual they encounter, be it their first-time interaction or that of a well-known acquaintance. In fact, the first introduction or “jikoshoukai” involves bowing down formally in front of an individual who happens to meet one for the first time. It is quite surprising to note that even in settings of competitive events such as sumo-wrestling, both the contestants bow down to each other by entering the central position of the battleground as a part of ritual of the event since it is important to observe dignity and respect towards the other contestant and not perceive them as a potential enemy or threat. This therefore signifies that in spite of being mentally aware of the opposite entity being one’s opponent in the fight and possessing an approach of analyzing their weaknesses and strengths and forming strategies of defeating them in the competition, yet one doesn’t let these attitudes and approaches hinder their basic gesture of expressing gratitude and respect towards the opponent for being a part of the competition
Formal Etiquette of Expressing Gratitude Before and After Meals
Another interesting aspect of the Japanese culture is that of expressing gratitude before and after having each meal of the day. This marks the honor they present to each family member as well as the Ultimate Reality for making it possible for them to comfortably have three meals each day and that of satiating their survival needs by expressing gratitude after completing the meal. Some interesting terms used to express gratitude before and after having a meal in the Japanese cultural tradition include “itadakimasu” (Thank you for providing me with this nourishing and satiating meal) and “gochisou sama deshita” (I am truly grateful for this substantial meal).
Formal Etiquette of Dignifying Each Individual with “Chan” or “San”
Another important aspect of formal etiquette in the Japanese cultural tradition is that individuals refer to each other with formal terms after their names. Regardless of their age, individuals tend to formally refer to individuals. For individuals younger than oneself, the formal term of “chan” is used and for individuals elder than oneself, the formal term of “san” is used. In addition, if one is well acquainted to an individual who is a male and they happen to be their friend, then the term “kun” is used to describe them. It is interesting to observe how the Japanese culture does not discriminate or differentiate in terms of age and considers younger individuals to be equally competent and capable of being shown respect. This is something that is quite inquisitive and worth taking lessons from so that experience does not become synonymous with age and the fact that individuals who might be younger in age, tend to be designated with the same respect as do individuals with age greater than theirs.
Formal Etiquette of Gifting
Another thing that is worth mentioning about Japanese formal etiquette is that it essentially includes gifting special items as tokens of appreciation as matter of some significant personal event. Most individuals gift something special and useable for their new neighbors, as matter of buying a new house and shifting to a new locality. The gifting process is included in the formal etiquette since it is primarily representative of the fact that an individual is extending their hands towards other individuals who reside in the same vicinity and also increases familiarity, in order to anticipate help during difficult situations of life and expect moral support and an ideal of collective living during the time they reside in the given neighborhood. This gesture also helps individuals understand each other better and breaks the ice between them quite easily.
Formal Etiquette of Preparing Special Meal for Guests
Furthermore, it is observed in traditional Japanese houses that there is a ritual of preparing a special meal or drink for individuals who have visited the house as guests. The host cannot refuse or deny anything that has been asked for or demanded by the individual since they are their guests and it is therefore their responsibility to cater to them and make them feel welcome at any given hour in their house. This formal etiquette of preparing a special meal for guests helps in creating a space that is warm, harmonious, welcoming and hospitable for new individuals and easily assimilate them in the intricacies of the Japanese cultural tradition. An increased emphasis on formal etiquette under the idea of collectivism, helps the Japanese culture stand out among other cultural traditions in the socio-political context. These are among some of the common methods or gestures through which the Japanese observe formal etiquette and ascribe equal importance and dignity to each individual. Individuals from other cultures often find such practices too formal and easily intrusive in terms of attempting to establish easy connection with an individual in the cognitive, motivational, social and political factors, but it is only by such methods that they are able to support each other during the occurrence of unfortunate circumstances such as natural disasters, wars, inflation/deflation, socio-economic crises and so on. Unlike, the western cultures that follow an isolated approach and lay emphasis on individual living, limited social interactions and increased emphasis on work culture and productivity, the Japanese cultural tradition builds its roots on the basis of collectivism, formal etiquette, universal brotherhood, equality and harmony.
Concluding Remarks about Japanese Formal Etiquette
Therefore, the basic insight gained out of this is that the Japanese culture is that of affirming and practicing ‘collectivism’ in each setting and context, it doesn’t easily recommend seclusion and individual living in its daily practices and traditions. It is one of the rare cultures which experiences collective living set-ups even after the children in the family are married or grown into young adults. It churns out virtues of cooperation, support, helpfulness, friendliness, co-existence, harmony and developing a giving and unbiased attitude towards any individual being. They also remove their shoes before having each meal, which signifies respect towards something as miniscule as food.