(BBC News School Report) East Meets West

(Reported by Paige William, Year 8)

People in Western countries are becoming increasingly interested in Japanese culture and their way of life. Whether it be the advanced technology, Anime (Japanese animation films) or the interesting and quirky culture, it is a long established fact that people in the West admire the Japanese.

In our weekly Journalism Club, we have a number of fans of the Japanese lifestyle: one of them cited Studio Ghibli as one of the reasons they love this Eastern culture and said it is the ‘fairy tale style’ and the morals behind the stories that leave them with a ‘satisfied feeling’ after.

In Eastern areas, they have more innovative technology and machines that make them much more progressive than many western countries. They offer high tech, slim line, self-driving cars, handiwork robots and a various other uber-modern inventions that we only dare to dream of.

Things like Anime are also becoming incredibly popular as shown by the many Hollywood stars that have been employed to do dubs and voiceovers. For example, Anne Hathaway did a voiceover of ‘The Cat Prince’s Bride’ in Studio Ghibli movie ‘The Cat returns’.

Another aspect of Japanese culture that entices Westerners is the respect that each person gives and receives. In Japan if citizens are friends or acquaintances they will call each other by their surnames, but if they are in a relationship or family, they will say their first names. Many people believe that it is a good way to show respect and could make people happier by partaking in acts of respect in day to day life.

Children also enjoy learning about the main religions in Japan; Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto, meaning ‘way of the gods’ has many gods and goddesses, which are referred to as ‘kami’.A few examples of Shinto kami are: Amaterasu (Goddess of the Sun), Kami-no-Kaze (God of Wind), Omoikane (God of wisdom) and many others. Although Shinto is not very widely practiced inside or outside of Japan currently, many Shrines still stand today in Japan and Taiwan and they still have a tangible impact on Japanese society.

Other features that many people that influences people to visit or even migrate to Japan is that according to a local that has visited Japan multiple times, the different scenery and food that come with the different seasons all year round, you learn to have much more gratitude and kindness for others, you come to appreciate the value of simple but healthy and elegant food, and many other reasons.

On the other hand, are some obvious disadvantages to the Japanese lifestyle that many Westerners experience when either travelling or migrating include: extremely busy train stations, mass amounts of rubbish is formed everyday causing many irritable tourists.

That said, Japan has done much for culture worldwide, providing codes of honour and respect and offering seemingly alternative visions of life through carefully and thoughtfully crafted film making.