Japan Q&A

We receive many questions about Japan and Japanese culture, and these are the most commonly asked questions.

How do arranged marriages in Japan work?

The arranged marriage in Japan is called "Omiai." Unlike Americans' common beliefs, Omiai is nothing like arranged marriage. First of all, no one is obligated to marry to whom he or she does not like. What omiai really is a formal version of American blind date. Usually, older people who know many people function as a match maker. Two people first exchange their photos, and if they like what the saw, they have a date. The only difference is that both sides agree that they are going to seek out the possibility of marriage. People usually take 6 months to a year to decide whether or not they should get married, and they can stop seeing each other at any time if one of, or both of them feel that they are not compatible. What would they do? They can have as many Omiais as they want, as frequently as they wish. So, Omiai is a very effective way to meet people of the opposite sex if you are considering marriage.

What is sushi?

One of the biggest misconceptions about sushi is that it is thought as raw fish, but the truth is that sushi doesn't necessarily have to be fish. In other words, there many different kinds of sushi that do not use fish at all. As far as it uses vinegar flavored rice, Japanese people call it sushi. Would you like to know how to make sushi?

edomae.jpg Edomae sushi inari.jpg Inari sushi

makisu.jpg Temaki sushi makisu2.jpg Maki sushi

If sushi is vinegar flavored rice, what is sashimi?

Sashimi is thinly sliced raw fish. People in Japan usually have sashimi with a bowl of rice.


Are there still some Ninjya and Samurai in Japan?

No, Samurai and Ninjya ceased to exist more than 100 years ago. People in Japan are quite tired of being asked about Ninja and Samurai.

How long does it take to fly to Japan?

It takes 15~16 hours from the East coast, and 11~12 hours from the westcoast.

Do people in Japan speak English at all?

Yes and No. Most people have had many years of English education, but English education in Japan is more focused on reading and writing. So most people have never had a chance to speak to a foreigner. But you will find that young people are more likely able to communicate with you in English. Please remember to speak as slowly and clearly as possible and avoid usage of any colloquialism. They should be able to understand what you are saying. But let us suggest that you should learn some basic words and expressions before you visit Japan. If you speak just a little bit of Japanese, things will be much easier, and more people will like you (People in Japan like foreigners who try to speak Japanese. If you don't speak Japanese at all, and always speak in English, they take it as a sign of arrogance)

On TV, I have seen a tiny room that is as small as a coufin in which Japanese people sleep. What is it? Do they sleep in such a condition all the time?

What you saw is called capsule hotel. It is an accomodation where many business people, who missed the last train to go home, stay for the night. It is less expensive to stay in such a place than going home by taxi, which sometimes costs as much as $200!

Is there a way to translate an American name into Japanese pronunciation and spelling?

Yes. Japanese has 46 characters called Katakana, which people use to write foreign words. Each Katakana has a sound, and they can phonetically represent words. However, in some cases, the pronunciations do not exist in Japanese, such as "th" or "r", so you need to substitute them with the closest Japanese sounds. As a result, "Thursday" would sound like "Saasuday" and "right" would sound like "light" when they are written in Katakana.

How popular is Sumo in Japan?

Extremely. Sumo is probably more popular than baseball these days. Tickets are very difficult to obtain.

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