Embracing the Abyss: Unveiling the Stark Contrasts Between Japan and the Rest of the World


I unravel the profound distinctions that set Japan apart from the global landscape. From workplace dynamics that prioritize collective goals over individual paths, to subtle communication styles that define Japanese business interactions, and the captivating uniqueness found in Japanese folklore studies, the differences are as striking as they are intriguing. Join us on a journey through the subtleties that make Japan a cultural enigma, transcending the boundaries that separate it from the rest of the world.

Dining Habits

1.1. Expressions of Gratitude Before Meals: Japan’s unique language customs

Saying “Itadakimasu” Before a Meal

Saying “Itadakimasu” before a meal is a unique cultural practice in Japan. This phrase expresses gratitude not only to the person who prepared the meal but also to those involved in cultivating the ingredients and the ingredients themselves.

Additionally, the phrase “Gochisousama” is said after the meal, expressing gratitude for the hospitality and the deliciousness of the meal.

While Christians are known for offering prayers before meals, this practice differs from the Japanese customs of “Itadakimasu” and “Gochisousama” as it involves expressing gratitude to God.

1.2. Daily Bathing in Hot Tubs: Distinctive bathing culture in Japan

Daily Bathing Habits in Japan

The habit of taking a bath every day is a unique cultural practice in Japan. While neighboring countries like Korea and Taiwan also indulge in bathing, the daily practice seems less common.

Even in Western cultures, filling the bathtub with hot water is common, but it is more typical to wash the entire body within the bath.

Bathing Together: Parent and Child
In Western cultures, assisting children with bathing is common, but it is uncommon for parents and children to bathe together, even if they are of the same gender. This contrasts with Japan, where it’s a common practice. The portrayal of families bathing together in Japanese anime or movies often surprises people from overseas.

Closing the Bathroom Door
In Japan, it’s customary to close the bathroom door after use. However, in many Western countries, a closed bathroom door indicates someone is inside, in use. An anecdote tells of a Japanese exchange student in the U.S. who closed the bathroom door habitually, leading the host family to believe it was occupied, causing some inconvenience.

1.3. Toilet Door Etiquette: Differences in restroom manners between Japan and overseas

Closing the Bathroom Door

In Japan, it is customary to close the door to the toilet (bathroom) after use. However, in many foreign countries, a closed toilet door is a sign that someone is inside and currently using it.

There’s an anecdote involving a Japanese exchange student who went to the U.S. and, as usual, closed the toilet door. Unfortunately, the host family assumed it was occupied, leading to a situation where the bathroom was temporarily unavailable.

1.4. Handling Tableware: Cultural variations in how tableware is used during meals

# Dining Etiquette: Differences in Table Manners

In Japan, there are cases where it’s considered a breach of etiquette if you don’t hold the dishware, such as bowls or plates, while eating.

Contrastingly, in many Western cultures, holding dishware while eating might be perceived as impolite, giving the impression of being overly eager or gluttonous. As a result, eating while holding dishware is considered a breach of etiquette in these cultures.

Additionally, when it comes to consuming soups, Western etiquette dictates using a spoon to convey the soup to the mouth. In Japan, the norm is to bring the bowl to the mouth, maintaining a distinctive difference in dining manners.