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Happiness in Japanese Culture: 9 Joyful Practices

Step into the joyful world of Japanese happiness, where everyday moments are filled with delight. Discover the magic of ikigai, the essence of Japan’s culture that brings bliss to daily life. Here is a journey as we explore 9 simple practices that make the Japanese masters of happiness. From fun hobbies to timeless customs, these practices add color to your happiness canvas.

Follow us as we unravel the secrets of Japan’s unique approach to happiness; a blend of traditions, creativity, and mindful living in a symphony of joy.

1. Ikigai

Ikigai Photo by Tarun Savvy

In Japan, happiness is like a treasure hunt called ikigai. It’s all about finding joy in things that really matter, not just doing stuff without thinking. The Japanese believe that happiness is hidden in the little things, like tiny treasures waiting to be discovered in our everyday moments. Each small detail has the power to bring big joy. It’s like a secret adventure of happiness.

Ikigai guides Japanese to find happiness within, not relying on others’ opinions. Doing things that truly resonate with personal meaning. It’s this dedicated pursuit of joy-packed details that makes Japanese culture radiate with happiness.

2. Hanami

Hanami, the Japanese joy of cherishing cherry blossoms, goes beyond beauty. Deeply rooted in Japan’s culture, it brings profound relaxation and happiness. Gathering under blossoms isn’t just about flowers; it’s a shared moment appreciating life’s fleeting beauty, like a peaceful escape that brings calm.

Aligned with ikigai, it emphasizes harmony with surroundings and society, promoting inner balance and strengthening communal bonds. It’s a beautiful blend of nature and friendships, where happiness blooms like cherished petals.

Photo by Roméo A.

3. Exercising

Photo by Alex Shaw

In Japanese culture, the dance between fitness and social life becomes a lively celebration of joy . Through group exercise, a shared wave of positivity and strength sweeps across communities, creating a nationwide chorus of happiness.

In Japan, the pursuit of the best life is not just an individual journey;it’s a dynamic, collective symphony of wellness and camaraderie.

Rajyu Taisu

Rajyu Taisu, a century old Japanese exercise routine, is a happiness booster. Loved by all ages, especially kids in group sessions, it’s not just about fitness; it builds social connections too.

This shared joy significantly contributes to Japan’s overall happiness, showing how exercise and social bonds go hand in hand. Rajyu Taisu is more than a routine; it’s a key player in shaping a happy and balanced lifestyle across generations in Japan.

4. Walking

Examining the Japanese perspective on physical activity reveals a strong emphasis on walking as a fundamental component of their daily lives.

Japanese adults walk an average of 6,500 steps per day, with men (20-50 years) taking around 8,000 steps and women in the same age range averaging 7,000 steps. Okinawans, known for their walking culture, link walking to well-being and happiness. This cultural emphasis on walking suggests a positive impact on physical health and overall happiness.

Nakasendo Trail

Photo by Sebastian Stulz

The Nakasendo Trail, a guided walking tour from Kyoto to Tokyo, provides an intimate exploration of Japan, fostering a deeper connection with its culture and history. Alongside traditional experiences, Japan embraces a thriving fitness culture with numerous gyms offering diverse exercises.

This commitment to both tradition and modern wellness reflects Japan’s holistic approach to well-being, contributing to the overall happiness of its people.

5. Group sports

Exercising Photo by Fred Rivett 

In Japan, they’ve got a mix of sports; traditional ones like judo and kendo, plus global favorites like baseball and soccer. Baseball, aka yakyo, is a massive hit, almost like the country’s main sport because everyone’s crazy about it.

And it doesn’t stop there. In summer, people ride the waves while surfing and diving, while winter brings the thrill of skiing and snowboarding. These sports show Japan’s love for both old-school and worldwide games. Whether it’s solo fun or team spirit, sports bring joy and skill. Playing together builds bonds and teamwork, creating a happy community vibe in Japan

6. Sumo

Sumo, a unique Japanese sport, features intense battles where robust individuals aim to push each other out of a circle. Rooted in tradition, Sumo involves ceremonial practices like symbolic salt throwing. Beyond physical prowess, it reflects Japan’s history and values.

Sumo’s role as a national sport likely boosts cultural pride and identity, positively connecting it to the happiness of the Japanese people.

7. Reading

Photo by sean Kong 

Japan’s educational history, shaped by cultural shifts and global influences, has left its mark on study habits. Tachiyomi, or standing reading, is a common practice, with people browsing magazines and books in bookstores.

Dedicated to learning, Japanese individuals spend over four hours weekly studying and purchase 5-7 books each year. With one of the world’s highest literacy rates, graphic novels (manga) and light novels top their reading list.

This strong reading tradition in Japan reflects a cultural dedication to knowledge, contributing to the population’s happiness by nurturing a love for learning and curiosity.

8. Sleeping

Photo by zhang kaiyv

In Japan, sleeping is elevated to a happiness ritual; cozy floor beds with tatami mats, soft quilts, and buckwheat husk pillows. But it doesn’t end there; enter inemuri, a cultural embrace of daytime power naps. It’s a joyful pause in the day.

And when it’s bedtime, the Japanese have a secret sauce for joy; they hit the day by 10 pm, ensuring a solid eight hours of sleep. It’s not just about rest; it’s a recipe for a happy and refreshed life.

9. Healthy ways of living

In Japan, the secret to a joyous life goes beyond just adding years; it’s about elevating the entire experience. Their clever diet, bursting with fresh, seasonal delights, isn’t merely a health regimen; it’s a happiness formula. With reduced risks of heart disease and cancer, they savor a life of exceptional quality.

The emphasis on whole foods, such as indulgent seafood and vibrant veggies, doesn’t just maintain their well-being; it infuses every bite with a burst of joy. It’s more than a diet; it’s a happiness turbocharger that turns Japan into a radiant haven of well-being.

Six Healthy Living Habits Among the Japanese

Photo by Duy Pham

  1. Green Tea: Japanese cherish daily green tea for its polyphenol antioxidants, which reduce inflammation, protect cells, and support overall well-being.

2. Forest Bathing (Shinrin-yoku): Japanese find peace in nature therapy, immersing in the forest, engaging the senses for relaxation and tranquility.

3. Seaweed: Integral to the Japanese diet, seaweed provides minerals, antioxidants, protein, fiber, and omega-3 fats for health benefits.

4. Hara Hachi Bu (Eat Until 80% Full): Japanese practice mindful eating, stopping at satisfaction without overeating, promoting overall well-being.

5. Seafood: High seafood consumption contributes to the Japanese diet’s healthiness, lowering heart disease rates and cholesterol levels.

6. Strong Social Circles: Japan’s robust social connections, seen in multigenerational households and continued work in rural areas, enhance physical and emotional well-being.

Keytakings About Happiness in Japanese Culture

Photo by PNG Design 

  1. Ikigai’s Joyful Pursuit: Rooted in Ikigai, the Japanese find happiness in purposeful activities, emphasizing the value of personal fulfillment over external validation.
  2. Hanami’s Tranquil Beauty: Beyond cherry blossoms, Hanami is a profound source of relaxation, fostering both inner balance and communal bonds.
  3. Rajyu Taisu’s Holistic Well-Being: This century-old exercise routine promotes physical fitness, social connection, and emotional well-being, shaping positive lifestyles across generations.
  4. Nakasendo Trail’s Cultural Fitness: From Kyoto to Tokyo, this walking tour integrates tradition and modern wellness, contributing to Japan’s holistic approach to well-being.
  5. Sumo’s Cultural Significance: As a national sport, Sumo fosters cultural pride and identity, reflecting Japan’s historical and traditional values.
  6. Walking’s Health Impact: The emphasis on walking, with an average of 6,500 steps per day, links physical health to overall happiness, especially among the health-focused Okinawans.
  7. Group Sports’ Community Bonding: From traditional martial arts to global favorites, Japan’s diverse sports culture fosters social bonding and teamwork, enhancing community happiness.
  8. Reading’s Intellectual Pursuits: Tachiyomi and a commitment to studying reflect Japan’s dedication to knowledge, contributing to a sense of learning and curiosity that enhances overall happiness.
  9. Healthy Living Habits: The Japanese embrace healthy living through practices like sleeping on the floor, power napping, and a diet rich in seafood, vegetables, and green tea.