Welcome to Japan, a collection of islands home to spectacular mountains, delicate pottery and spell-binding tea ceremonies.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of Japanese culture is its love of precise physical composition. This aesthetic is evident in all facets of Japanese culture, from manicured gardens and flower arrangements to small functional homes, from haiku poetry to beautifully arranged traditional foods.
Japan is a constitutional monarchy. The monarch is greatly revered, but holds little power. The true head of state is the prime minister.
The official language is Japanese, which has one of the most complex writing systems in the world, with over 3,000 characters and three different scripts.
The Japanese enjoy a very low crime rate and relatively safe cities and towns. Families have an average of two children, and pets are very popular companions.
There are diverse religious practices in Japan, from Buddhism to Shinto to Confucianism to Christianity, and many play a role in celebrations and daily rituals.
A typical Japanese diet is one of the world’s healthiest. It often includes fish, rice, green tea, vegetables, noodles, and many soy-based products such as tofu, miso and soy sauce. Traditional desserts are often made from sweet bean paste.
Japanese students must pass entrance exams for each level of education. These exams are very competitive and have come under harsh criticism in recent years.
Ninety percent of Japanese students go to high school or the equivalent. Forty percent of those students go on to universities or other higher education.
Most students in Japan wear uniforms. Teachers are very highly respected, and move from room to room while the class of students stays in one place.
Most Japanese teenagers participate in some type of sports club or play musical instruments. The most popular sports are soccer, baseball, basketball, and tennis. Piano and guitar are common.
Japanese teens are very fashion-conscious. There is a very distinct ‘youth culture’ in Japan — a teenager would never wear the same clothes as her parents!
Most teens start dating around 16 to 18, while younger teens tend to hang out in groups.