Asian Culture discovering Japan!

    Today we will be discovering Japan! 

  • Samurai
  • Origami
  • Zen Buddhism
  • Tea Ceremony
  • Sumo
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
  • Shoguns

     Japan's capital is Tokyo.



The samurai was born out of the Heian period (794 to 1185) as one of the most influential and memorable Japanese warriors. They took their spot at the top of the Japanese caste system when new militaries were set up by the ruling shoguns and the samurai ruled for the majority of the next 700 years. (6). The samurai fought with martial arts, bows and arrows, spears, guns, but they were most notorious for their sword. They were allowed to wear two swords at one time and ruling powers over Japan knew the samurai could overthrow them so they encouraged them to follow the way of bushido or “the way of the sword”. This way of life stressed self discipline, respect, honesty, and loyalty. Samurai (which means “to be on one’s guard”) were hired for their services through many eras, especially during the era of the Warring States of the 15th and 16th century. When Japan established a sense of peace and its fighting came to an end in the year of 1868 the samurai slowly but surely died out over the years to follow. (5,6).



Origami originally started in China during the 1st and 2nd century but became extremely popular in Japan during the 6th century. At first paper was extremely expensive to make and thus expensive to buy so only the rich could afford to make origami art. The world origami comes from the Japanese word ori for “folding” and the word kami for “paper”. Samurai used to share gifts and good luck charms with one another using origami and noblemen would decorate weddings with beautiful origami butterflies which meant to represent the bride and groom. There were no written instructions for origami and for generations they were handed down orally. Eventually paper got cheaper to manufacture and origami got more and more popular among all classes. Books containing written instructions were first published in the 18th century. One of the most commonly known origami animals is the crane. The crane was considered a sacred bird in Japan and it was custom to believe that if one could fold 1,000 origami cranes they would get one single wish. Origami is still a popular recreational art form today. (1). 

Zen Buddhism 

Zen is a subdivision of Buddhism. It does not have any sacred scripts or teachings, it is the understanding of understanding and achieving enlightenment within oneself. It is believe that every human being has the potential to become a Buddha but to discover this it takes extreme self discipline, self awareness, meditation, and abandoning logical thought processes and words. Zen can be adapted to many other religions such as Christianity if one seeks a deeper understanding. Meditation is a common practice in Zen Buddhism and calls for the absolute abandonment of feelings, memories, and any such thought process that does not have entirely to do with the precise moment in time. Zen requires focusing entirely on the present. It originated in China but spread to Japan in the 12th century CE. (12).


Tea Ceremony 

The Japanese tea ceremony is inspired by Zen Buddhism and is intended to purify one's mind. (9). The green tea, called Matcha, that is used in the ceremony was introduced from China in the 8th century. The actual ceremony began in the upper classes of Japan around the 14th century. It is a choreographed ritual that is considered an artform and requires spiritual discipline. The entire ceremony is performed with the guests in mind and the main guest is called the Shokyaku. The Matcha is served with sweets to balance out the bitter taste and every bowl of tea is prepared from the heart. Men solely performed this ritual until the Meiji period (1868 - 1912) when women began to perform it for guest they would have in their study rooms. The tea ceremony is still practiced today. (1, 10).



Sumo wrestling is Japan’s national sport where two men grapple and try to dominate the other, forcing any part of the opponent's body but the soles of his feet to touch the floor or push him out of the 4.55 meter wide ring. Simply enough, a win means rising in rank, a loss means demotion of a rank. The sumo wrestlers show no emotions towards their status at the end of any match. Sumo wrestlers are some of the heaviest athletes and sustain themselves on a fat, rice based diet. Their aim is to train and build muscle but to not lose any of their hundreds of pounds of weight. There is no exact date known as to when sumo wrestling began but it is known to have started as and remained as a very religious sport. The ring, before every match, is purified with salt to purify and rid of evil spirits. It is then blessed by a priest and the wrestlers wash their mouths out with water to symbolize cleaning their minds and bodies. Sumo wrestling is mostly a mind game and opponents will often spend more time staring at eachother then they spend trying to force the other down. They are allowed to slap and push to try and break the other’s concentration but any move that deliberately means to injure the other player is not allowed. The loincloth that the wrestlers traditionally wear are never washed because it is believed that that will wash away all of their experience. Sumo wrestling is extremely popular in Japan and is growing in popularity in the west as well. (8).  


Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park 

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is located in the center of the city Hiroshima, Japan. It is the first city to have ever been bombed by an atomic bomb on August 6, 1945 during World War II. The Peace Memorial Park consists of 120,000 square meters of park and the remnants of what is now known as the A-Bomb Dome. It is the shocking skeleton of one of the only buildings left standing after the bombing and, surprisingly, it was the closest to the bomb’s original landing. This area was never redeveloped so it could serve as a dedication. There is also a Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims which is an arched tomb that contains the names of direct and indirect victims, more than 220,000 names. Every year, on August 6th, a moment of silence is observed at 8:15 am, the exact moment the bomb was detonated. (4,11).



Shoguns were supreme military leaders in Japanese culture. They were appointed by the emperor. (7). Shoguns ruled from the year 1192 to the year 1867. Even though they were appointed by an emperor they held the most power, the emperor just acted as a ceremonial head. (3). 



1) Callie, Jeremy. "History of Origami." ThinkQuest. Oracle   

Foundation, n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. 


2) De, Mente Boye. "Tea Ceremony." Discovering Cultural Japan.  

2nd ed. Lincolnwood, Ill.,

U.S.A.: Passport, 1988. 24. Print.

3) "Facts of Japan - Shogun." HubPages. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr.  



4) "Hiroshima Travel: Peace Memorial Park." Japan Guide. N.p., 


Web. 6 Apr. 2013


5) "Samurai." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, 


Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

2004. 7 Apr. 2013 


6) "Samurai - Japanese Warriors." Samurai - Japanese Warriors


n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2013. 




7) "Shogun." Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire. PBS, n.d. Web. 

Apr. 2013. 


8) "Sumo Wrestling." Asian Art Mall. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2013.


9) "Tea Ceremony." Kids Web Japan. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. 


10) "The Japanese Tea Ceremony." Japanese Tea Ceremony. N.p., 

n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. <>.

11) "Peace Memorial Park." Japan National Tourism Organization 

Web Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. 




12) "Zen Buddhism." BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2013. 









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