A Comparative Analysis of Two Cultures
CP 12 English
January 12, 2014
In a world full of an endless array of cultures and life styles, it’s practically inconceivable for any two to be completely alike. For instance, the U.S. and Japan may have a great number of similarities on the surface, but when you actually get down to the gears and clockwork of it all, comparing the two would be a lot like comparing a turtle to a dragon. Japan is often considered more "Western" in culture than other Asian countries. Compared to the United States, there are certainly a lot of similarities. But Japan and the U.S. do have many cultural differences as well. These cultural differences can include such things as religious views education, and varying ideals and values. In today’s world, modern media and technologies have completely redefined what it means to growing up and going through life as a teenager. From popular games to forgotten traditions, the world’s youth is constantly changing. Like the pendulum on the clock of change, always in motion, we and our surroundings are always constantly evolving.
Japanese attitudes toward religion differ considerably compared to those of the U.S. The vast majority of Japanese people identify as Shintoist or Buddhist, or both at the same time. Though Christian missionaries have been present in Japan for hundreds of years, there has been little effect on Japan's religious identity and philosophy. Therefore, issues that are based in typical debate in the Abrahamic faiths, such as gay marriage or teaching creationism in schools, lack a religious foundation in Japan. Japanese people's approach to Shinto and Buddhism is also largely reserved to traditions, celebrations and superstitions, more than strong spiritual belief itself. For example, in America, a politician's religious affiliation may become the cause of heavy debate, all while there are few such issues in Japan.
Another primary difference between American and Japanese youth is their educational system and experience. Students in Japan spend, "240 days a year at school, 60 days more than their American counterparts" (Johnson 1996). Although critics of this claim have pointed out that many of the extra days are spent engaging in activities geared more towards cultural studies and field trips, students in Japan still spend a significantly larger amount of time in school compared to the students in the US. Furthermore, traditional Japanese schools also have a half day of instruction on Saturdays. As a result, according to some estimates, in 13 years of schooling, US students receive almost a year less than those in Japan. The implications of this are that not only do Japanese students receive more actual time per day engaging in focused, academic study, but they also spend more days overall, and therefore may have a greater advantage in terms of practice, repetition, and breadth of knowledge. In addition,
The Japanese school year is divided into 3 terms, without extended breaks that may cause the students to lose their skills in the absence of regular academic instruction for prolonged periods of time (Johnson 1996). Thus, the problem in the US of students from disadvantaged backgrounds gaining an essentially equal playing field over the academic year and then losing most of what they gained over the summer may not be a factor in Japan because of the systemic difference in the academic calendar. Third, and perhaps the most significant divergence amongst American and Japanese teenagers is their varying ideals and values. Depending on which region we are referring to, but overall Japan, especially Tokyo, is known for being "colder" than most areas of the United States. People stand a relatively far distance apart when speaking, and last names with honorifics are used. An example can be seen in different approaches to customer service. In America,