For Japanese, work is their God…

For a newcomer to Japan, the people there are a symbol of humility. But that is all there is to it…

When disasters strike Japan — not very uncommon in this earthquake prone nation — the people of that nation don’t take much time to get back on their feet and go about their business.

For them, their religion is work. Indeed, work is worship for them. A professor of mine recently returned from an official visit to Japan only last week and in awe for that fareast nation.

What struck him was the work culture. He mentioned that when a Japanese worker was unhappy about his salary or had some grouse against his boss, he would work more! And, absenteeism is a very, very rare occurence.

Secondly, he noticed that the Japanese had no time for their families and were producing lesser children. But more important, for this Brahmin, vegetarian professor, they had no time for God.

It is perhaps for this that God sends them regular reminders: He has made them healthy and wealthy, but they did not get wise. When they still d9o not bother to listen, he sends volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, on a regular basis.

But the Japanese do not seem to get the message.

Instead, once down, they get up quickly and go about reconstructing their lives and then getting back to work.

Japan has seen other disasters too: Manmade. Two words suffice: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese were momentarily weakened, but subsequently rose soon enough to become one the world’s wealthiest nations.

Japanese politicians are as power hungry and probably as corrupt as our own. The educated people there — and that counts for almost the entire population — are as indifferent to politicians and corrupt as we are.

But what makes them different to Indians. We share almost a similar culture. But there is one thing. The Japanese are proud people, nay, vain. They have utter contempt for most non-Japanese people and we Indians are very low on their vision.

I have myself encountered a couple of Japanese engineers belonging to a major printing hardware company who made a big deal about their prowesses. Their words were reeking with conceit.

For a newcomer to Japan, like the MIT professor, the people there are a symbol of humility: They bow low in greetings. But that is all there is to it. They do not have time to talk to strangers and all talk is limited to business.

According to Intelligence Bridges, a website dedicated to assist foreign enterprises who wish to expand their business in Japan, they tend to place themselves in their own exclusive and closed communities. Accordingly, they have introverted personalities and they pay serious attention to harmony and cooperativeness in the group.

As Japanese people have lived under dictatorship for such a long period of time, their culture is called “the culture of sadness”. Most old Japanese folk songs and current “Enka” music as well, have lyrics of sadness, with the melody written in minor scales, the website adds.

COming back, according to a native Japanese who grew up in Japan and later moved to the United States, the Japanese just feel that they are not religious because they don’t go to a Buddhist shrine (Buddhism and Shintosim are their two main religions) or church every Sunday, or rather the whole social atmosphere after WW II made everyone feel atheists or not believing God as a good thing. “I think it’s because the government used Shintoism for WW II by making the emperor a living God. So after the war, being religious was not so highly respected anymore, I think,” he says.

Another Japanese person, who identifies himself as Bossansan, writes: “It is sure that most of us are an atheist, but it is not western atheist. If anything, we don’t believe in any particular religion vaguely. Basically, we don’t believe in God’s existence, but at the same time we wish Gods existed.”

One admirable thing about the Japanese is they never wish to bother others with their own personal problems. But above all, the average Japanese person is ver honest.

According to an expatriate in Japan, one need not lock their doors while going out even if there are a million dollars in cash lying around. “You don’t have to,” he says. Another expat’s mother lost her purse with a substantial amount in it on a bus, but got it back from the lost and found department with every single Yen intact!

That about sums up the Japanese attitude towards religion, God and other humans beings.

Whatever may be the case, we have to wish them well. I hope we Indians adopt their attitude towards work and their notions about honesty, but discard their attitude towards religion and God. However, in both cases, I think we need moderation, because excesses can be bad…

Read Japan Facts

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