Innovation on Earth

Global Citizenship Resources for Innovation Academy and Beyond

The Serious and the Silly

Before we met with the mayor, we exchanged business cards with important officials.

Before we met with the mayor, we exchanged business cards with important officials.

When I first arrived in Japan, I thought that Japanese culture was very serious and formal. I noticed that people take extra care to be polite in lots of circumstances. For example, when people greet each other, they arrive early and always dress in sharp clothing. They use formal language to say hello, bow a lot, and take great care exchanging business cards in a ritualistic way. There’s a lot of pomp and circumstance in general, and since we’ve gotten here, we’ve taken lots of formal group photos.

Our group posing with the Kushiro mayor and other city officials

Our group posing with the Kushiro mayor and other city officials

Despite the fact that we are here to study and do serious work, we are having lots of fun and learning that Japanese culture has a really silly side. Last night, we had a formal reception where we were greeted by important people, and there were lots of speeches.

After the speeches, we got to experience a performance of a type of traditional Japanese music. Taiko drumming is an art that goes back hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of years. We got to try out a little bit of drumming also. We only did it for 30 seconds, but it was exhausting!

The Taiko drumming started to give us a taste for the fun side of Japanese culture, but then it got even goofier. After the reception ended, a group of us went out for Karaoke, which is very popular in Japan and definitely an important part of their culture. It’s a little bit different than in the States, because each group gets a private room. Two college students who we had met earlier in the day accompanied us, and we all had a blast:

Here’s a little video montage so you can see some of the musical performances of the evening. Be sure to watch to the end to see the break dancing. Do you think it’s part of the Taiko drumming or Karaoke? Watch and see! You might be surprised to see that Japanese culture can be very silly.

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7 thoughts on “The Serious and the Silly

  1. Anna S. on said:

    It’s nice to know that Japan has a silly side. 🙂
    Speaking of which, that person sure can dance! He did an amazing job! Where did break dancing originate? Or in this case, when did it become popular in Japan?
    Sounds like everyone had a great time! 😀
    ~ Anna

    • Edward Coughlin on said:

      Breakdancing, or b-boying or b-girling, originated in The Bronx, which is in the United States, in the 1970’s as part of Hip Hop Dance. B-boying, which it is often called because breakdancing itself is more male-dominated than female-dominated, had its Golden Age in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s, and I think it started becoming popular in Japan towards the end of its U.S. Golden Age (possibly between 1999 and 2002). Nowadays, Hip Hop dance, including Breakdancing, I believe is much more popular in Japan than in the United States.

  2. Edward Coughlin on said:

    I can’t believe that Taiko Player can actually Breakdance…

  3. I liked watching them break dance. The man did a great job. You looked like you had fun with karaoke. I was surprised you were in your own room. I bet alot more people try it since it is more private.

  4. Darius S on said:

    I enjoyed the video so much I watched it twice, but some of the karaoke singing and dance moves were pretty scary! I found the man singing “Dancing Queen” really funny. The break dancing at the end was so awesome. The drummers must have had a lot of practice!

  5. khanh on said:

    Hiiiiiiiiiiiii

    I liked the video. At first I thought Japanese people were really serious(not as muc as Germans though) but now I realize they can be silly too.

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