Today we travel to Japan. Japan has a fascinating and multifaceted culture; on the one hand it is steeped in the deepest of traditions dating back thousands of years; on the other it is a society in a continual state of rapid flux, with continually shifting fads and fashions and technological development that constantly pushes back the boundaries of what is possible. It could therefore be said that Japan is a country of stark contradictions and contrasts which makes it so fascinating.
In interpersonal relationships, most Japanese tend to avoid open competition and confrontation. Working with others requires self-control, but it carries the rewards of pride in contributing to the group, emotional security, and social identity. Wa (和), the notion of harmony within a group, requires an attitude of cooperation and a recognition of social roles. If each individual in the group understands personal obligations and empathizes with the situations of others, then the group, as a whole, benefits. Decisions are often made only after consulting with everyone in the group. Participation in group activities, whether official or unofficial, is a symbolic statement that an individual wishes to be considered part of the group. Thus, after-work bar hopping provides not only instrumental opportunities for the exchange of information and release of social tensions but also opportunities to express non-verbally a desire for continued affiliation.
And now, an example of where old meets modern, a traditional Okinawan song, Asadoya Yunta, versioned by Ryuichi Sakamoto, considered to be one of Japan's most famous living composers. Enjoy the beautiful music, and a great weekend!
- Alba Serrano-Miro