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American Vs. Japanese Culture Essay

1035 words - 4 pages

Psychological anthropology is the study of individuals and their personalities and identities, within particular cultural contexts. In this paper I will identify two different cultures in the world which are the American and Japanese. Then, I will examine their traditions through various life cycles. Based on the behaviors, customs, and beliefs of each of the two cultures, I will discuss how personalities and identities are formed and shaped within the two different cultures. Finally, I will be giving two specific examples for each of the selected cultures.
In Japan New Year is considered a family celebration. Most people go return to their home towns or parents' homes. The majority of shops and restaurants close for 3 days, people start to prepare the traditional "o-set chi ryouri" during this time. Also there is what they call Adults Day which is a celebration for boys and girls who turn 20 in that year. What this means is that whoever turns 20 have the right to buy cigarettes and alcohol legally. In this occasion, ceremonies are held at temples and shrines and the girls wear a special way of dressing called kimono. Valentine’s Day is not the same concept as in Western customs; in Japan only women give gifts on Valentine's Day. The norm is to give chocolate not only to their boyfriend or husband, but to any men among friends or fellow workers. The way it goes is that men have to give back double what they have received from the women one month later. Another celebration in Japan is Hina Matsuri which is held on March 3 of every year. It is a festival intended only for young girls. They bring these dolls and display them in the houses of unmarried girls. It is believed that these dolls bring good fortune to the unmarried girls. The superstition mentions that if the dolls are not hidden in their boxes before midnight, the girls in the house will never marry. White Day is the day when men have to give back the women what they have received from them in Valentine’s Day and of course the gift is doubled. The Japanese call it "Knickers Giving Day" and it is on March 14.
The Japanese also hold memorial services for their dead at temples on the 7 days before the spring and autumn equinox and people visit their family graves. According to the Japanese Golden week is one of the 3 major holiday period in addition to the New Year and Obon (a Buddhist festival celebrating All Souls from July 13 to 31). It is called the Golden Week because it includes 3 public holidays within one week.
"Kodomo no hi" which is on May 5 is devoted to boys only. So all the families with male children, fly paper streamers of carps called "koinobori". To the Japanese it represents healthy growth. The children write poems or wishes on pieces of colored paper and attach them on tanabata trees. In addition, Japanese youths celebrate Halloween too but it is limited to wearing costumes in nightclubs in areas such as Roppongi or Shibuya in Tokyo and the kids are not allowed to...

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