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Japanese Traditions Practiced By my Kupuna


Japanese Traditions in Hawai‘i

The gardens that are found in Japanese temples and shrines are inspired by the Shinto Religion and the belief in an ideal state of harmony. Flower arrangement called Ikebana is believed to have evolved around the Buddhist practice of offering memory of those who passed away.

Kimonos are a traditional Japanese costume that is a full-length robe which falls from your shoulders all the way down to your ankles.

Influenced by Buddhism, serving tea to guests is a formal and stylized ritual which Japanese people follow. In Japan, seafood, rice, fish, sashimi, and vegetables are eaten by most Japanese and play a big role in Japan. Along with those food are Tofu or soy bean curd which is another popular yet healthy dish. Another dish that plays a big role in Japanese cuisine is sushi. To top off the night, Japanese usually drink sake at traditional meals as a toast to a healthy and long life.

Girls day, also known as Hinamatsuri in Japan, is celebrated every March 3 mostly by Japanese and Okinawa descent. It was brought to the islands many many years ago. On girls day girls it is a traditions to eat mochi. Red of pink mocha represent peach blossoms and other flowers, white mochi represents purity and green represents growth or fertility.

Most Japanese people celebrate New Years here in Hawai’i by pounding mochi. To pound mochi, you have to let sweet rice soak overnight then steam it until it is soft. Then, place it into a big, deep bowl (usu). After that, have one or two people pound the mocha while someone turns it in between pounding and adds a little bit of water to it. When the mocha is finally smooth, place it on a table and shape it into flat balls. It is said to give strength, give good luck, good health and long life if it is prepared and eaten.

Bon dances are a very popular festival that takes place in Japan, although it is also celebrated here in Hawai’i. Obon originated more than 500 years ago by Japanese immigrant in the 1900ʻs. Obon or Bon dances are celebrated to remember your ancestors. These festivals are full of families, often attended by 3 or more generations within a family. In the summer, Japanese Buddhist temples throughout Hawai’i host two-night festivals on the weekends which are all open to the public.

Japanese festivals occur all around Japan and some that even take place here in Hawai’i as well. The most famous one here is called the Cherry Blossom Festival, it all started in 1953 and is one of the longest, continually running ethnic festival in the state of Hawai’i. The purpose of it is to perpetuate the Japanese culture and enrich young women of Japanese ancestry.

Taiko drumming in Hawai’i is a talent and a show that is put on at various events. Taiko, meaning fat drum, is the relatively modern art of Japanese drum ensembles (Kumi-daiko). In the last 50 years, since kumi-daiko was created, there are over 8,000 taiko groups in Japan and some groups are now taking the style world-wide. Taiko is the first Japanese music to spread through the world. Various taiko drums have been used for over 1400 years, possibly longer, but has a very short history beginning in the 1950ʻs.

Japanese Traditions

Japanese believe that all natural things such as animals and plants create kami or divine power which was known as one of Japans many religions, Shinto. Many families have small sized Shinto shrines in their home. Shinto has the most number of believers in Japan today.

Another one of Japans religions were Buddhism. It came from the mainland Asia in the 6th century, rulers of the time had embraced this religion which spread to the general public in the Heian period which was in 794-1192 and the Kamakura period which was in 1192-1338. Buddhist families have Buddhist altars in their home. Buddhism is the second most believed religion in Japan.

Christianity is another one of Japans religions. It was brought to Japan from spain by Francisco de Xavier in the 16th century. It was banned in the Edo period which was in 1603-1868 but came back during the Meiji era which was 1868-1912. Christianity has the least amount of believers in Japan today.

Japanese Religions

Japan is famous for its ethnic and social similar nature. Todays view on Japanese people include, groups such as Koreans, Chinese, Brazilians, and many more cultures. Japanese traditions date back to thousands of years ago, having most of them still occur today. It is known for its unique culture and heritage. What makes it such a fascinating country to visit is all the changing of fads, fashions, and technological development that push back boundaries of the possible.


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