Japanese culture is bursting full of rich and colourful traditions that can easily be applied to our own daily lives. There’s a reason the average life expectancy in Japan is about 84 years – one of the highest in the world. It’s attributed to several factors including a strong healthcare system, a balanced diet rich in fish, vegetables and rice, low levels of obesity, high standards of living, and a strong emphasis on preventative care to support a healthy and stress-free lifestyle. Here are 12 Japanese traditions to live by:
- Wa (和): Harmony, balance, and the importance of relationships and community are all encompassed in this aspect of Japanese culture. In Japanese society, there is a strong emphasis on maintaining harmony and avoiding confrontation, which can be applied to our own relationships and how we manage our interactions with others.
- Omotenashi (おもてなし): Omotenashi is the art of hospitality and selfless service and it’s exemplified everywhere you go in Japan. It’s mostly about putting the needs of others before your own and going above and beyond to make sure they feel welcomed and cared for.
- Mottainai (もったいない): This tradition encourages us to not waste resources and value everything we have. It reminds us to be mindful of our consumption and think about the impact of our actions on the environment.
- Wabi-sabi (侘寂): Ah, Wabi-sabi. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Finding beauty in imperfection and embracing the impermanence of life is at the heart of this particular practice. It reminds us that everything changes and nothing lasts forever, and encourages us to find beauty in the imperfections and flaws of life.
- Shinrin-yoku (森林浴): Also known as “forest bathing,” this is about truly immersing oneself in nature and finding relaxation and rejuvenation in the natural world. Taking time to breathe. It’s a reminder to make time to slow down and connect with the world around us. Tree hugging is encouraged!
- Iki (いき): Being stylish and fashionable in a unique and understated way is the focus here. It encourages us to express ourselves through our personal style and not blindly follow trends.
- Kaizen (改善): Continuous improvement and striving for excellence are at the heart of this aspect of Japanese culture. It’s about making small, incremental changes and constantly working to become better versions of ourselves.
- Gaman (我慢): Enduring hardship with grace and resilience is tough. But Gaman encourages us to find the strength to persevere through difficult times and come out even stronger on the other side.
- Kansha (感謝): Kanasha is all about gratitude and appreciation. Taking the time to recognize and thank others for their contributions and showing appreciation for the things we have in our lives.
- Kintsugi (金継ぎ): You’ve probably seen this over on Instagram. The art of repairing broken objects with gold or silver lacquer, highlighting the cracks and imperfections rather than hiding them. It’s deeper meaning is about embracing the imperfections and flaws of life and finding beauty in them.
- Omoiyari (思いやり): Omoiyari is to do with empathy and putting oneself in others’ shoes. It’s about being considerate and compassionate towards others and understanding their feelings and needs.
- Shikata ga nai (仕方がない): The final in our list. Acceptance and understanding that some things are beyond our control is the focus of this aspect of Japanese culture. No more dwelling on negative conversations and interactions. It’s about accepting the things we cannot change and focusing on the things we can.
Those are our 12 Japanese traditions to live by. So far! We might add some more at a later date. Would you add any others? Let us know over on our Facebook page.
At Fusion Coaching, we draw on these many aspects of Japanese culture to help individuals (and businesses) achieve their goals and reach their full potential. Our media, performance, transformational and life coaching can all help you incorporate principles like gratitude and mindfulness into your personal and professional development, leading to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.
Contact Jo or Liz at Fusion to learn more.