Most Japanese traditions involve every aspect of Japanese life. These traditions have also evolved over a period of thousands of years. One common tradition that may seem very visible to outsiders is the traditional Japanese dress of the kimono. A kimono is a woven cotton undergarment. This dress was the basic dress for the Japanese until more recently where it is customary to wear the kimono just for important celebrations. These celebrations make up the many traditions within Japanese culture that aren’t as visible as the kimono. It is within this part of the paper, we would like to look at the many traditions celebrated in Japan.
One popular Japanese tradition is ‘bonsai’. Bonsai is the art of growing miniature trees. These trees were introduced by China around the thirteenth century. Japanese bonsai trees have evolved into an expression of beauty consistent with the teachings of Zen Buddhism which profess an interrelationship of man and nature. Bonsai has three basic tenets. These tenets are called ‘shin-zen-bi’ which stand for truth, goodness and beauty. The miniature trees are grown in small ceramic pots. They endure a great deal of cultivation which includes systematic pruning, careful root trimming, transplanting, and watering. The trees are usually cultivated in their pots outdoors but sometimes they are brought into the home so they can be displayed on special occasions. The goal is to cultivate them to become works of art. Similarly to the wild bonsai tree, the miniatures are able to live to be hundreds of years old and it is not uncommon for family members to pass on a bonsai tree to different generations. Although there are a great variety of trees that are used in bonsai, traditionally, pi...
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...raditionally, one’s relatives and friends are invited for a celebratory feast on kanreki. The man who is celebrating his birthday is traditionally given a red hood and completes the outfit by wearing red vest. These types of cloths are usually worn by Japanese infants and therefore are used to symbolize the mans return birth.
In all Japanese traditions thousands of years of evolution has played a big part in shaping such a profound and ancient culture. Through the many traditions we discussed above we can not only see how many traditions are unique to the Japanese way of life, but how some have found their way to our lives as well.
Barrett,Timothy . Japanese papermaking : traditions, tools, and techniques. New York: Weatherhill, 1983.
Walthall, Anne . The human tradition in modern Japan. Wilmington, Deleware: SR Books, 2002.
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