Explore Japan: Culture

The Japanese lifestyle today is a rich blend of Asian-influenced traditional culture and Western-influenced modern culture.

Traditional Culture

Kabuki is a form of classical theater. It is characterized by the rhythm of the lines spoken by the actors, extravagant costumes, flamboyant makeup, and the use of mechanical devices to achieve special effects on stage. The makeup accentuates the personalities and moods of the characters.

Noh is Japan's oldest form of musical theater. The story is told through dialogue and singing, musical accompaniment, and dance. The leading actor, dressed in a colorful costume of embroidered silk, usually wears a mask of a character such as an old man, a young or old woman, a divine figure, or a ghost.

Kyogen is a type of classical comic theater that is performed with highly stylized actions and lines. It is staged between noh performances, although it is now sometimes performed in its own right.

Bunraku is a kind of puppet theater that is performed to the accompaniment of narrative singing and music played on a three-stringed instrument. Bunraku is known as one of the world's most refined forms of puppet theater.

Other traditional arts live on as part of the everyday lives of Japanese people. The tea ceremony (sado or chado) is a highly structured method of preparing green tea. It requires a wide range of knowledge and a delicate sensitivity. Sado also explores the purpose of life and encourages an appreciation of nature.

Ikebana, Japanese flower arrangement, originated from early Buddhist flower offerings. Ikebana uses extreme care in choosing every element of each work, including the plant material, the container, where each branch and flower is placed, and how the branches relate to the container and the surrounding space.

Source: Explore Japan: Culture
Copyright © Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

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