Folk Belief – Japan

Justin Dove – Seniority

In the same way American’s will say someone’s title before their name (i.e. Mr. or Mrs. Smith). The Japanese have a specific tradition they perform. Similar to Spanish in how there are formal and casual ways of saying the same word depending on whom you are talking to, the Japanese will add a word signifying that they are speaking with someone older than they are. Even if that person is a good friend and only six months older, the proper and polite thing to do in Japanese culture is to say sen-pai after their name. While I find this a commonality around the world to show respect to ones elders, the Japanese take it a whole new level. Children in class will call their instructors by sen-pai. Children will also show this respect to their parents. But the fact that a 13 year old must say this to his 14 year old friend blows my mind. I have friends who are a year younger than I am, but I would never expect them to call me anything other than my name. Justin on the other hand is used to this tradition. I asked him whether it ever was a big deal to him growing up in Japan, but he just said it was second nature. He never thought twice about it.

This tradition of seniority and respecting ones elder can be seen in other ways as well in The younger person must always bow lower than the elder at all times. This is considered common courtesy and shows respect to the elder. These acts of courtesy and politeness only occur between two people of Japanese origin. The Japanese do not expect other cultures to understand theirs and are thus not offended when others do not abide by the same rules they do. The Japanese are a very structured people. They abide by many rules and have many long-lasting traditions that they perform. I believe that all of these factors are main reasons to why their race has survived over the ages. Rules and regulations keep a nation under control. Chaos and anarchy never have the chance to erupt if there is no reason for them to do so. The Japanese are a noble and honorable race who I believe more countries should try to emulate. The traditions they perform and the culture they try to preserve is of utmost importance to them. I think this is why there is still so much folklore buried within the Japanese culture in the 21st century.