The First Draft
Cultural Differences between Japan and Sri Lanka
O.K Ishara Madhunika Opatha
Department of Development Policy
Faculty of International Development Cooperation
University of Hiroshima
Table of Content
List of Figures 3
1. Introduction 4
1.1 What is culture? 4
1.2 Introduction to Culture of Japan 4
1.3 Introduction to Culture of Sri Lanka 4
2. Cultural Differences between Japan and Sri Lanka 5
2.1 Traditional Clothes 5
2.2 Traditional Food 5
2.3 Languages 6
2.4 Customs and Traditions 6
2.5 Cultural Festivals 6
2.6 Religion 7
2.7 Architecture 7
3. Conclusion 8
4. References 9
List of Figures
Figure 1.1: National Flag and Map of Japan 4
Figure 1.2: National Flag and Map of Sri Lanka 4
Figure 2.1: Traditional Clothes of Japan and Sri Lanka 5
Figure 2.2: Traditional food of Japan and Sri Lanka 5
Figure 2.3: Traditional customs in Sri Lanka 6
Figure 2.4: Traditional custom in Japan 6
Figure 2.5: Sinhala Tamil New Year and Esela Perehera Festival in Sri Lanka
Figure 2.6: Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan 7
Figure 2.7: Architecture in Sri Lanka 7
Figure 2.8: Architecture in Japan 7
1.1 What is Culture?
Culture is the social behavior of a particular group of people and it enhances the quality of human lives and increases overall well-being for both individuals and communities. In another word Culture is “shared motives, values, beliefs, identities, and interpretations or meanings of significant events that result from common experiences of members of collectivities and are transmitted across age generations” (House, R. J. et al , 2002, P5). Culture can be different from one country to other country or nations in terms of language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music, and arts ……etc.
1.2 Introduction to Culture of Japan
Figure 1.1: National Flag and Map of Japan
Japan is an East Asian country which is situated on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean. The country consists of nearly 3,400 islands that stretch some 1,200 miles from northwest to southwest with 128 million population. When considering the culture of Japan, its social and cultural patterns are significant from other nations.
1.3 Introduction to Culture of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country with 2,500 years long history it, is an island country in South Asia, located on the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka is often called the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” due to its beauty and shape. The island nation covers approximately 25,332 square miles with 21 million population.
Figure 1.2: National Flag and Map of Sri Lanka
2.0 Cultural Differences between Japan and Sri Lanka
Cultural is different and unique from one nation to other nation. That difference may be occurred due to the differences of languages, religions, traditions, customs, food, clothes, and arts….etc. This chapter will elaborate above mentioned cultural differences between Japan and Sri Lanka.
2.1 Traditional Clothes
Japan has world famous traditional cloth which is called “Kimono”. The kimono is a traditional garment of Japan. It represents as the national identity of Japan (Stevens and Wada, 1996) and it is always worn for important or formal festivals or formal ceremonies. Sri Lankan traditional dress is “Saroon” and “Kandian Saree” (“Osariya”). Basically, men wear a long-sleeved shirt with the saroon and for formal and ceremonial occasions women wear the Osariya.
Sushi, tempura, noodles, and teriyaki are some of the traditional food of Japan. The Japanese diet is a full nutrition meal and consists rice, fresh, seafood and pickled or boiled vegetables. Japanese people have a long life than other nations in the world due to their healthy diet. Sri Lanka’s staple cuisine consists rice accompanied by several dishes of vegetables, egg, meat, or fish stewed together with spices, and often coconut milk. For the special events, Sri Lankans prepare another special rice with coconut milk which is “Kiribath”.
The most widely spoken language in Japan is Japanese. Apart from that, people in Okinawa and parts of Kagoshima in the Ryukyu Islands speak Ryukyuan languages. Sri Lanka has two official languages. Those are Sinhala and Tamil and majority speaks the Sinhala language (Votta,D.V, 2004)
Customs and Traditions
Japanese people greet to each other by bowing. Gift giving is another prominent and well known tradition of Japanese culture. Even the casual visitor come for the short term visit in Japan, Japanese people usually exchange the gifts to make his/her visit memorable (Befu.H, 1968). Moreover Japanese people never wear shoes in someone’s home and they usually say customary phrases before and after a meal. That is also a significant custom in Japan. Sri Lankans greet one another by saying “Ayubowan” which means “wish you long life”. Sri Lankan has become one of the friendly nations in the world due to their “Hospitality”. It is also one of the noticeable customs of Sri Lankans.
Shogatsu is the festival held for celebrating the New Year in Japan. “Setsubun” is an old traditional festival and “Hanami festival” which is called Cherry Blossom Festival held in every spring. Sinhala and Tamil New Year festival is one of the main festivals in Sri Lanka and celebrated in April Every year. Moreover, Sri Lankans celebrate many religious festivals. Specially Esala Perahera is the grand Buddhist festival held in July or August in every year.
Shinto and Mahayana Buddhism are Japan’s two major religions. “Shinto has long been regarded as a crucial element in Japanese religion that gives it distinctiveness. Many people have discussed the role of Shinto in Japanese history and culture, but depending on the person there are slight differences in interpretation” (Toshio, Dobbins and Gay,1981,p1) Theravada Buddhism is the major religion in Sri Lanka, with about 70% of the country’s population as followers. Moreover, people follow Hindu, Islam and Christian religions in Sri Lanka
Wooden structures are significant characteristics of traditional Japanese architecture. Moreover, It can be seen heavily influence of China and Asian Culture over the centuries in the traditional architecture of Japan. There were seven kingdoms in Sri Lanka and Styles and design of architecture are vary and unique to each other kingdoms. It can be seen the influence of Buddhism in Sri Lankan architecture.
The term “culture” refers to the complex accumulation of knowledge, language, rules, habits, lifestyles, beliefs, and customs that link and provide a general identity to a group of people. Culture is different from one country to another country. In this study, it can be seen significant cultural differences between Japan and Sri Lanka though they are located in Asia continent. Moreover Japanese and Sri Lankan cultures are unique and significant from other countries in the world. Finally, in conclusion, understanding cultural differences of each country and respect other’s cultures are vital to make a strong global connection.
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