There is no denying that Japan’s culture is multifaceted but fascinating. On one hand, it represents its profound and deep traditional values while on the other, its rapid technological development and contributions to the world show no limit. Japan as a whole is indeed an interesting country where anyone would want to visit. Plus what makes it even more compelling is how the Japanese culture and values affect business and its outcomes.
Japan’s culture has been shaped and reshaped by the people across time. It will take a detailed guide to help you understand the importance of cultural terms in the corporate world. But before that, you will need to know the most basic things about a nation that includes language, religion, art and a brief history. While a basic Japanese language course can help you learn Japanese, let’s start with a brief history of Japan.
Guide to Japanese Culture
Japanese people appear to be rather homogenous, both socially and ethnically. But there is more to the story. The Japanese people have been effectively adapting various schools of thoughts and religious beliefs from outside countries. They can be termed as one of the most interesting populations on earth, who know how to step forward with the advancement without hampering tradition. All of these make Japan worth a visit. Here are a few main things you would want to know before you head there-
At the present time, Buddhism and Shinto form two major religious grounds in Japan. Buddhism came to Japan through China while through Korea, it was encouraged to adopt Confucianism. Moreover, these religions are co-existing with Christianity and a small number of Muslims.
The main language or national language that is spoken in Japan is Japanese or Nihongo. It is an East-Asian language that is being spoken by 128 million people in the country. Little is known about the prehistory of this Language. It has formed through Old Japanese to Early Middle Japanese, Late Middle Japanese and finally Early Modern Japanese. The writing system includes a mixed script of Kanji (which is Chinese characters) and Kana (Hiragana, Katakana).
The Japanese language holds great importance in understanding the Japanese culture.
Japanese population can be described as a group of ethnic people and is one of the largest ethnic groups in the world. Geographically, the population includes people from Northeast Asia and the Japanese Archipelago. The Japanese population are basically a Mongoloid group.
Manners and customs form the pillars of the Japanese lifestyle. These include bowing, taking off shoes when visiting home or temple, respecting elders, the value of silence, tipping, punctuality, group solidarity, etc.
Japanese Culture and its Impact on Business
With technological development, the global marketplace has become more accessible for all businesses. Along with that, cross-cultural terms have become more common in the workplace as well. This is giving rise to the need to understand cultural differences, especially if any business wants to trade successfully with other countries.
As a matter of fact, we all know that in the globalised economy, cultural sensitivity plays a vital role. But have you ever wondered how? Or why? Let’s understand this!
Culture can be defined as the ideas, customs, beliefs, habits, arts and social behaviour of the people. The difference in culture means differences in norms, values, behaviours or attitude.
You can understand cultural differences in business in three main areas - organisational hierarchy, etiquette and communication.
The Japanese work culture highly depends on communication, gesture, work environment and punctuality.
The gesture is an important part of the work culture. While in many countries, a handshake is a common gesture but in Japan, people bow to greet and welcome each other. Even bowing varies from a small head nod to body bending forward.
Noise at the workplace is something that Japan strictly forbids, be it excessive talk, or any noise created while walking. Silence represents the wisdom and self-control of an individual. This culture of Japan varies greatly from the rest of the world, where the workplaces are rather the noisiest areas.
Although you may think that punctuality is more of a self-quality, in Japan, it is essential. If you are late at your workplace or for a meeting, you better start anticipating delays on your journey to avoid late arrival in the future.
Effective communication is important in a business, be it a start-up or well-established. Although it is natural to assume that English is the real business language, that is not the case with many countries, including Japan. Also, the way of conveying the message varies greatly. In some of the western countries, it is common to see people lecturing loudly but in the case of Japan, the lecturer or leader are seen to talk rather softly.
Moreover, if you want to trade with Japan or visit the country to understand their culture, you will need to understand their language or have a basic idea. For this, you can learn the language with the help of the internet.
How to Learn Japanese Online
Knowing that the language holds a great important place in the culture of Japan, you must learn it first to explore the country. To learn Japanese online, you can take the help of an online course or a tutor who knows the language.
Many language schools and colleges offer Japanese courses for beginners as well as intermediate learners. These institutes also offer advanced courses with certification too. You can choose the right lesson according to your requirements. But remember, you will need to consider whether you are learning out of passion or as a part of career growth.
On the other hand, if you want to choose a private tutor to teach you Japanese, then you will need to find one who has expertise in the language. You can check the availability of such tutors online near you or take the help of Superprof, which is an online platform dedicated to tutors and students to connect. You can directly get in touch with them via provided contact details. Once you finalise a tutor, you can choose to hire him/her or attend classes online. Additionally, you can also find anyone in your contact list.
How can I Learn Japanese by Myself in 2021?
In this era of the internet, there is no surprise that you can become an expert in any field all by yourself. All you will need is the right platform, dedication and persistence. The best thing about learning by self is the pace, which depends on you only. You can take as much time as you want and do it as swiftly as you can, there will be no second person to force you to rush into it.
So, without any further delay, let’s check out the options using which you can become your own mentor.
A natural name to mention, YouTube was started in 2005 when it was introduced as a platform for entertainment. It is where you can view almost anything that has been uploaded. The user of YouTube also made it a platform for their earning, where they uploaded content all made by themselves. These contents can be anything, from entertainment videos, cartoons to tutorials. And yes, you can easily learn any language too using this platform.
One search for ‘Japanese language tutorial for beginners’ can bring you a number of channels to choose from. You can select the one that is most appropriate for you. But remember, if you select one, you must stick to that channel and jump into other, which can hinder your flow.
The year 2020 has given massive attention to all educational apps where students enrolled to study or to continue their degrees online. This helped them study at a safe distance, confined to their homes which is the need of the hour due to the pandemic. Besides Coursera, Shaw Academy and such, languages apps like Busuu and FluentU also gained prominence.
You can select a language app which suits your requirement. Some of them even introduce the basic lessons for free while the advanced courses might be paid ones. Whatever it is, language apps are a great option to rely on if you want to learn Japanese all by yourself.
While these options might seem obvious, you must take the help of a private tutor. They can encourage you, guide you on where to start and what should be the next step and finally help you make better decisions. Moreover, if learning a new language such as Japanese is a part of your career growth in fields like tourism and hospitality, you must ensure to involve a guide for better understanding.