Japanese Culture

Renowned Japanese architecture and how the Japanese culture relates to the quality of the creations

Why does Japan need to maintain high quality in a creation?

The reason lies in the expectation of products and services from the consumer. This includes aspects from hygiene, safety, and every aspect that stirs the five senses. From visual presentation, sense of smell, touch, hear, and taste. It can be said that the quality of Japanese products need to be maintained and improved for the Japanese consumer with such critical standards. This principle though only explains the need for high quality from a sales perspective and does not entail the essence of what Japanese quality is.

An important aspect of quality in Japan is the spiritual element. It comes from an unspoken belief that the person creating the product or service needs to be virtuous, conscientious and balanced. This may appear to have no relation with producing high quality products, but what cannot be physically seen with the human eye, is deeply ingrained in many Japanese products and architecture. On this page, we introduce renowned Japanese architecture much loved by the world, and present to you the unique and distinctive culture that carve the essence of what quality means in Japan.

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Changing seasons

In every Japanese soul there lies memories of nature. The scene is of mountain ranges, villages, a water wheel, houses built from natural wood that blend together with the surroundings. Not just human life but all life forms existing together in harmony together. There is a respect for nature. Not to take more than necessary from the mountains or river, and not to resist with aggression to the change that nature brings. A perfect balance with nature was maintained.

Spring flourishes with cherry blossoms and fresh green colors. In the summer the cicadas sing, and in the autumn the leaves change color. The winter sun shines on water drops melting from icicles. The beauty of the seasons that change so quickly captivates the observer. This is what is at the root of the Japanese creativity.

In Japanese, before a meal, we say itadakimasu. The literal translation would mean 'I am taking', but in this phrase includes the unspoken but understood feelings of 'with gratitude and understanding for the life being given to me'. There is gratitude for the the fish, vegetables, and fruit, of a particular season that nature produces and that we take for our survival. The sea and the volcanoes on this island are so beautiful, but Japanese understand that at any time they can turn fierce and savage. This is a constant reminder for people to be grateful for the blessings of nature. This is how Japanese culture has developed.

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The Chinese philosopher Laozi is said to have founded Taoism (道). In Japanese 道 is pronounced as 'dō'. This kanji can be translated as 'path' and also holds the meaning of 'right' or 'correct' in attaining enlightenment from everyday practice. In Japan, following such teachings, many martial arts activities such as kendō, jyudō, and kyudō, take their name from this kanji and meaning. This kanji is also often applied to artistic pursuits and traditional vocations.

Craftsmen believed that with practice over a long span of time, they would be able to master skills and reach closer to enlightenment. To reach enlightenment it was believed that it is always important to keep the workplace spotlessly clean, take care of their tools as if they were treasures, and make sure that even areas not visible from the outside should be kept tidy and spotless. Their work was their way of life and being languid meant to deny themselves of enlightenment. These teachings along with the technical skills of such craftsmen have been handed over from generation to generation.

Although handcrafted products have decreased in recent years, the cultural tradition still holds true today in Japan for any manufacturing process.

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Eccentricity and Originality

The young generation of Japan create new forms of culture which can be quite shocking at times. As Japanese culture is considered to be very conservative, it may come as a surprise to understand the eccentricity that form part of the culture. It may stem from a rebellion against the conservatism of the culture.

Animation or manga is a typical example of Japanese culture. Many younger generations grow up learning from manga, and are much influenced by stories of morality and justice. Illustrations by Japanese manga artists also have a great influence on artists internationally. The eccentricity and originality of Japanese culture is prevalent in the virtual world as well, producing a number of successful software games.

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Japan has invented many products that have dramatically impacted our lifestyle. Items such as the lithium-ion battery, blue LED, optical fiber, and QR code. Dry cell batteries and desktop calculators are also Japanese inventions of the past.

Many inventions made in Japan are items that require attention to minuscule detail. The Japanese characteristic of dexterity and endurance, combined with a perfectionism that allows no flaws, may be the contributing factors for such inventions.

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In Japan it is considered a virtue for the host to be fully prepared to accommodate the guest. The details are planned out carefully, so that the guest can fully enjoy the time both in comfort and elegance. Part of the virtue is to not have the guest notice how much preparation was planned. Otherwise then, the guest would feel the need to repay the courtesy.

It is a part of what in Japanese is called omotenashi. It is hospitality with the attentiveness and subtle kindness to be able to have the guest's favorite flower prepared as part of the interior, as if it is always a part of the room.

The stability and trust of products made in Japan can be said that tradition and omotenashi are key elements of Japanese culture.

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