Japan, a country often not seen for what it really is. It is one of the world's largest powers, however, many think everyone wears kimono, watches anime, practices karate everyday, and eat only rice. There is much more to it than that.
Due to being an island, Japan's main source of food is seafood. Sushi is one of Japan's specialties and can be made in a variety of ways. Popular dishes include Nigiri, Gunkan, and Norimaki. (source : japan-guide.com)
Another type of popular Japanese foods are its sweets. Some of the most famous are Pocky (bisquit sticks covered with a type of icing), Pucca (sea-creature shaped pretzle-like snack filled with chocolate), and Ramune Candies (made after a popular drink called Ramune that's very sweet and comes in a glass bottle with a marble in the neck). These items are shipped around the world and can commonly be found in a local store.
In the common Japanese household, many things are different from what you may be used to. When you enter one's home, you take off your shoes at a front square, switching to slippers (common colour is green).
When you need to use the restroom, there is another type of slippers available called "Toilet Slippers". They are often decorated with cute characters but I believe the most popular ones I've seen have a silhouette of a man and woman.
There is a kind of Japanese toilet that a lot of people aren't used to. Most of it is "in-ground", so for use, you must squat, facing the pipes. Thankfully, these are usually seen at public places rather than a home.
Japanese schools tend to also be different from what most are used to. Many students go six days a week, Saturday being a half day. When you go to enter the school, there is usually rows of cubbies or lockers where you switch your shoes into a kind of white slipper. Many girls decorate theirs with magic markers, writing their name or drawing little pictures (even though it's usually against school rules).
Instead of changing classes and flipping out because the bell's going to ring, in Japan, the teacher comes to you. In between classes, there is a short break, allowing you to talk quickly with your friends. When the teacher arrives, usually what happens is all the class rises, greeting the teacher, sometimes bowing in unison. The books from your classes all day were to be stored in your desk.
During lunch, the desks in the class are pushed together to form small tables. Students eat, read manga, fix their hair, and talk to their friends. Some people visit other classrooms.
The class is divided into groups. One group goes home, the other group stays to clean up the room (mop the floor, clean the desks off with a sponge...etc.) You can see this during an episode of Sailor Moon Live Action. It also shows you what the average classroom looks like and what happens during lunch.
Cram School is a school many Japanese students go to after hours. I know, more school, AH!! It's exactly what it's called. It's to help you get ready for University exams and other information. Sorry, I don't really have much more to say on this, but you can get the idea of a cram school by, again, watching Sailor Moon Live Action.
Practically every public high school in Japan requries a uniform. For boys, it is typically black pants with a black jacket with a high collar and buttons running down the front. For girls, it is a pleated skirt (long in the winter and short in the summer) with a shirt that looks like a sailor (popular in many kinds of anime), or a jacket/vest and shirt. A school logo is usually on the jacket or vest and each school has a different colour scheme for the uniform.
The gym uniform is a shirt and shorts for boys with matching colours (typically white and blue) and girls have a shirt with shorts that resemble outer underwear (typically white and red). The gym classes are usually divided between boys and girls.
Ahhh... Japanese music, one of my favourite things to talk about. It is becoming increasingly popular every year across the globe. AOL radio even features a staion titled "Japanese Pop", I believe. Anyways, the two most known are Jrock and Jpop (Japanese rock and Japanese pop). Even though they're titled 'rock' and 'pop' the music tends to be quite different from what we're used to. Since I can't really quite explain the music, here are some popular bands that should be checked out :
Jrock : hide (will be missed), X Japan, Hyde, L'arc~en~Ciel, Dir en Grey (going to be taking a tour through America), Psycho le Cemu, Alice Nine, Miyavi, MUCC, and Vidoll. (there's a LOT of others, but I just can't list them all!)
Jpop : Ayumi Hamasaki and Gackt (Like I said, lots more, go check it out!)
Japanese fashion tends to be a bit more wild than American fashion (even though popular fashion in Japan is becoming increasingly more American).
FRUiTS is a magazine that shows pictures of Japanese street fashion, one of the purest forms of modern day Japanese fashion. You may think the clothes don't match, but to others (including myself) think it's pure genius! For a "FRUiTS Look", it usually requires a lot of layering.
Lolita is a childish and elegant look which resembles old fashion clothing with many frills, bows, and lace for the girls, and typically a suit for the boys. Gothic Lolita, a popular style of Lolita, tends to be more dark and usually uses only the colours of black and white, sometimes grey and red. It is a very elegant style and the usually the goal for girls in Lolita is to look as childish and pure as possible. A popular clothing company for Lolita is Metamorphose.
Another popular clothing company is h.NAOTO
There are many more imporant aspects of Japan, but what I described was Japan in a nutshell! Other interesting topics of Japan are Geisha, History, Kimono Making, Anime and Manga, and electronics.
Culture of Japan is often shown in shows such as Sailor Moon Live action and Yu Yu Hakusho.
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