Hi, How’s it going?
Japan is finally getting warmer, and the Spring is coming soon!
You can enjoy beautiful Sakura in Spring, so it is one of the best time of the year here.
This time I wrote about 7 frequently asked questions by foreigners.
I meet and talk to tourists or friends from other countries everyday,
and they often ask me these questions.
I hope this will help you understand how things are in Japan!
Why Japanese wear masks?
If you go out in city areas of Japan,
you will see a lot of people wearing masks.
You might wonder why they do that.
One reason is for health.
In big cities like Tokyo (It has more than 9 million people living as of 2019),
risk of contagion and disease is high.
People wear it to prevent from getting cold or catching flu.
The air is polluted in crowded places, so a mask is a good defense against dust and pollen.
In addition, some people wear masks not to spread their sickness to others.
“Think of others” is a very Japanese way of thinking and living.
Another reason is to just cover your face to hide physical imperfections.
For women, they wear masks on the days when they don’t put make ups.
Many different kinds of masks are available these days,
and some people wear a mask as part of a fashion.
Why do people sleep on trains/buses?
Japan is a very safe country and people won’t steal your stuff even if you fall a sleep in public (except in some dangerous areas).
So, you can get yourself a break during your commute.
Most business people work a lot of overtime (it is common to work over 12 hours a day…. very competitive in city areas) ,
and especially for those who work/study at a place that is a few hours away from home, commuting time is often used for getting some rest.
But still, don’t forget to keep your variable items with you at all times!
What are the differences between Shinto and Buddhism?
Shinto is the native religion of Japan.
Shrines(places with Torii, or holy gates that separate the holy area and the world outside of it) are the places for Shinto, and people worship the gods of nature(or Kami/Spirits) there.
In Shinto, there is no fixed dogma or book, and the main theme of it is love and reverence for nature.
Purity is very important and death is seemed as a pollution(sometimes birth as well).
It is believed that you can bring good spirits by clapping at a shrine, so people do that before a prayer.
Buddhism is originally from India and came to Japan from China in the 6th century.
Japanese temples are based in Buddhism,
and there are a lot of sects of Buddhism in Japan.
The goal is to learn the teachings of Buddha and reach the enlightenment by praying, meditating, training, etc.
Temples are the places where monks train themselves.
Funerals take place at temples as well (Weddings are held in a shrine).
Both Shinto and Buddhism exist without any conflicts today and they have huge impact on Japanese culture.
Calming yourself down is important at a temple, so prayers are silent in a temple.
Is it OK to drink tap water in Japan?
Yes, the purification facilities are excellent and well maintained, so water in Japan is very clear.
Although, some people (including me!) prefer buying and drinking mineral water, because it taste better and more natural.
Why are people so polite?
Respecting others (and also to keep some distances) to avoid any conflicts is very important and it is like a nonverbal manner in Japan, especially in crowded areas.
Unlike western countries, people live/work for groups than for individuals.
Depending on the person you talk to, people use formal or informal languages,
and usually to strangers or to someone you meet for the first time, formal communicating is used almost all the times in Japan.
So, you will think that people are super (or even too) polite,
and you might find it hard to close the distance with others at first.
It takes time to build trust and be real friends…!
Why are there a lot of vending machines?
Vending machines are very useful for busy people, so they are everywhere for their convenience.
In addition, there is very little vandalism in Japan.
Vending machines can be anywhere, and they rarely get broken.
Some companies set vending machines so that they can put some ads on them.
Why the taxies are very expensive in Japan?
Japanese taxies are expensive.
It costs about 1,000yen to travel just for 2km, and they cost about 30 times more than in India!
They are expensive because it costs a lot to maintain the service.
In order to keep cars clean and safe, taxi companies have to check them regularly.
Also, government is controlling the price to keep the quality of it ,so they can not lower the price easily.
However, thanks to that, there is little accident and drivers are usually good.
It’s really fun to travel to other countries,
and learn about different cultures/lifestyles, isn’t it?
I’m planning to visit Korea sometime in May.
Where is your next destination?
(I went to a mountain in Shinhotaka area last week. I love nature!!)
※Complete song is available here Skyhigh Or click on the band camp link below.
*Need more info about Japan?
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