There are many myths surrounding Japan and Japanese people. People who are interested or maybe not interested in Japan often have some wrong ideas and notions about this country and culture. Stereotypes abound! In this post I’ll look at four (not so serious) misconceptions about Japan.
Myth #1: Japanese people eat sushi everyday (or a lot)
Sushi is indeed a popular food in Japan. There are restaurants serving it all over the place and of course you can buy it in any supermarket. Japanese people do like sushi and children will often state that it’s their favorite food. People like it, but certainly don’t eat it everyday! The only staple food that Japanese people probably eat everyday would be rice. Maybe soup as well.
Myth #2: Everyone knows Karate
They don’t! Most people I’ve met in Japan have never practiced Karate. Karate’s origins are here in Japan and more specifically Okinawa. It is a Japanese martial art. Lots of people do it, but not as many as you might think. In my years in Japan I’ve only ever met a few adults who train in the martial art. Kids do take classes, but I honestly think Judo is a more popular style of fighting.
Myth #3: Beware the “Judo chop”
Growing up in Canada I watched many television shows from the 1970’s and 80’s and some action shows would mention or show the “Judo chop” in fight scenes. It tended to be some sort of chop to the back of another person’s neck.
At the age of 16 I started training at a Judo dojo in Canada and quickly learned there is no such thing as a “Judo chop.” Judo is a martial art that consists of throws and grappling. You can throw people, pin them and make them submit with leg and arm bars. You can even choke someone out, but there is no striking. No punching, kicking or chopping!
Myth #4: The education system sucks and no one can speak English
Definitely a lot of room for improvement in both the education system in general and the way English is taught, but lots of people can speak English. If you are in a large urban area, especially one with a lot of international visitors like Tokyo or Kyoto, many people speak English. If you are visiting a more rural area, English may not be so common. One thing you may find is that once many Japanese people have a few drinks and drop some inhibitions, they’ll surprise you with how much English they really know!
Kevin O’Shea is the host of the Just Japan Podcast and the Just Japan News Podcast. He is also the guy behind JustJapanStuff. Kevin is a Canadian educator who lives in Kobe, Japan with his family.
Follow him on Twitter: @jlandkev