Elements that Construct Japanese Culture
Japanese Spirit is characterized by eleven elements:
Yuugen 幽玄 The Subtle and Profound - things unsaid is understood in a suggestive way.
Wabi.Sabi わび.さび Subtle Taste, Elegant Simplicity - quiet, clear and calmness, free from worldly concerns and annoying human relations, expressed in Sado茶道and Haiku俳句.
Mujou 無常 Transiency - a Buddhism worldview of everything is under constant change.
Ma 間 Interval in Time or Space - an empty space that leave suggestable notions and individual interpretation, expressed in Noh 能and Kabuki歌舞伎
On 恩 Debt of Gratitude - social and psychological obligation taken on with favors received from others.
Giri 義理 Moral Obligation -principle of human relations that advocates returning debts of gratitude received from others.
Ninjou 人情 Human Feelings - spontaneous expression of feeling toward others: love, sympathy, compassion, and friendship. Together with Giri, both were the two key elements, traditionally applied to human relations among the common people in Japan.
Haji 恥 Shame - putting importance on an external feeling of shame.
Nemawashi 根回し Prior Consulation - gaining consent from everyone in advance before making a decision to avoid confusion.
Honne to Tatemae 本音と建前 Honest Feelings and Official Stance - to express an official stance which is different from one's honest feeling is a result of seeking a sense of harmony and togetherness instead of self-expression.
Wa 和 Harmony - Japanese feel that wa is more important than self-assertion, argument or confrontation.
Many of these attitudes which had once dominated the characters of Japanese people are not well understood or accepted by western people, or in the world community, and it has been gradually changing as Japan internationalizes.
Reference: Yoichi Sugiura and John K. Gillespie (2004). A Bilingual Handbook of Japanese Culture. Tokyo: Natsume