Olympics 2020: United by Emotions
And here we are with another international, long-awaited event: the 2020 Olympics Games. Athletes are thrilled to show their outstanding potential despite the many ups and downs linked to the pandemic. To date, the sporting event is still threatened by the spiking number of COVID-19 cases, and with 80% of the Japanese population against the games.
“The elevation of the mind and soul, overcoming differences between nationalities and cultures, embracing friendship, a sense of solidarity, and fair play; ultimately leading to the contribution towards world peace and the betterment of the world”
-Pierre de Coubertin
The hosting country
Tokyo is the host city, and most events will be performed (from July 23 to August 8, 2021) in several Japanese cities. These Summer Games mark the 2nd time Tokyo has hosted an Olympics.
We are always here trying to grasp the beauty of each event which brings us back to our normal pre-covid life. In this article, however, we would like to provide you with some tips about the hosting country.
They may turn out to be pretty useful. Especially if you are considering travelling to Japan or working with Japanese colleagues or business partners.
Remember that cultural awareness is the greatest weapon in order to build a more inclusive world where diversity is highly valued, and appreciated.
Let’s tear down some walls on our mindset, be open, be curious!
About the Games: Do you know that … the history of the Olympics began some 2,300 years ago?
Greetings: Kiss, bow, or shake hands?
In Japan, the bow is the traditional greeting. It ranges from a small nod of the head (casual and informal) to a deep bend at the waist. Observe carefully: bow to the same depth as you have been bowed to, because the depth of the bow indicates the status of the relationship between you.
About the status, Japan is a borderline hierarchical society. Yes, hierarchy is extremely important in any social setting. However, it is not as hierarchical as most of the other Asian cultures.
Silence is considered useful
For instance, if you step into a train in Tokyo, also during Olympics 2020, you will immediately realize how quiet it is, even during rush hours. Because Japan is a collectivistic society where the motto is “preserving the harmony”, so being quiet is considered polite.
“Itadakimasu” (I am glad to receive this meal)
When we think about the Japanese cuisine, the first two things which come to our mind are for sure sushi and chopsticks.
Do you know how to use chopsticks? Well, it is best to be prepared! Chopsticks are an icon! They are used for everything: from traditional dishes to non-traditional ones like pizza and pasta (believe it or not).
It is important to follow etiquette.
For example, be careful not to stick your chopsticks vertically in a bowl of rice. This reminds Japanese people of funerals, where a bowl of rice is left with two chopsticks standing vertically.
Fun Facts: Did you know that when you use chopsticks, you’re actually using around fifty finger, wrist, arm and shoulder muscles? Eating sushi is practically a mini workout!
If you are taken out for dinner, be enthusiastic while eating, and always express your thanks especially after finishing a meal: “Gochisousama desu” (thanks for the food)
Take off your shoes
So why do the Japanese take off their shoes? This is a practice which may be considered an award for those coming from the Western world.
Well, practically speaking, the Japanese take off their shoes for cleanliness. Traditionally, the Japanese ate meals sitting on tatami mats instead of chairs. As they are very close to the floor, it’s not ok to bring the shoes into the house which would result in a dirty floor.
It is an important aspect of the Japanese culture and we are sure you want to avoid some faux pas regarding the Japanese shoe etiquette.
When entering a Japanese home, you have to take off your shoes at the door. You will wear one pair of slippers from the door to the living room, where you will remove them. There are different slippers for different rooms. And rooms where even slippers can’t be used and you have to enter barefoot or with socks. Yes, it might be quite confusing but once you understand this ritual, there won’t be any cultural shocks for you.
“Where can I throw my rubbish?”
It is hard to find rubbish bins on the street in Japan. The history behind the lack of rubbish bins is linked to the terrorist attack in the Tokyo subway on March 20th,1995.
So, after that deadly event trash cans were taken out of many public areas in order to avoid further attacks.
Apart from the sad story, it’s been several years now that the country has been considered a world leader in encouraging its citizens to recycle as much of their waste as they can.
Do you know that… Sustainability is at the core of the 2020 Olympics Games which are going to be the “greenest” games ever. Just to mention, the medals are made from recycled precious metals collected from electronic devices donated by the public, isn’t it cool?
If you are not sure what to do during Olympics 2020, look around you and act like a real Tokyoite!