Tokyo Culture


Tokyo is the cultural center of Japan . Having originated from the ethnic Jomon culture and then mixed with subsequent influences from first Chinese and Korean, then Greek and Indian, and finally from European and American influences, Japan developed its own unique culture.

Tokyo's unique culture is reflected in its traditional arts ikebana (flower arranging), origami (making objects by folding paper), and ukiyo-e (woodblock printing); crafts dolls, lacquer ware, and pottery; performances kabuki (complex dramas performed in elaborate costumes), noh (restrained and highly stylized drama), bunraku (puppet theater), kyogen (short satirical plays), and kamishibai (storytelling with animation, sound, and music); and traditions games, onsen (hot springs used as public bathing places), and tea ceremony.

The large number of festivals, rituals, observances and celebrations in Tokyo are also all part of Japanese culture. Starting from the traditional New Year visits to shrines, the Tokyo calendar is full of various festivals and observances, the matsuris (religious festivals) with their mikoshis (portable shrines), and the cherry blossom viewing in the month of April being the most popular.

Although the Japanese may seem aloof and shy by western standards, the real reason for their behavior is that they are brought up to think of themselves as a separate group. Anything non-Japanese is thus not readily accepted. To a westerner this may seem odd, but Japanese culture is different and unique and has its own ways.

It is, therefore, important for a visitor of Tokyo to know some traditions that are ingrained in the culture of the city - bowing is the Japanese version of a handshake, and failing to return a bow is considered impolite; counting of change after a purchase is considered rude; shoes are generally not worn in homes, temples, and various other places; and bringing a gift when invited. Knowing and following cultural traditions of the city makes it easier for a visitor to be accepted by the people of Tokyo .

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