Why do Japanese always say san? – Honorifics in Japanese

Why does Mr.Miyagi say “Daniel san” in Karate Kid?  What is the meaning of san? Ever wondered why Japanese people address people with san after their name? This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions I get about Japan from tourists and friends alike. You may be already using san to address your Japanese counterpart just because it seems polite to follow their way. But why do Japanese always say san? What does san mean? San San is one of many honorific titles in Japanese. It is the most common one and it is used not only when addressing someone, but also when talking about someone who is [...]

Why do so many people in Japan wear face masks?

If you visit Japan in winter, you might find it strange that so many Japanese people are wearing surgical face masks. You see lots of people with their face covered with white masks on train, on street, in the office, onboard the airplane … basically everywhere. Why do they do that? For most cases, they are either trying to avoid catching any viruses or trying not to pass their cold to others as a caring posture. If you see them in the airplane cabin, chances are that they do so for keeping their throat moisturized. Cabin air is very dry. Its humidity level is as low as 20%. I also [...]

Why is a Shinto Shrine standing on a Buddhist Temple’s ground in Japan?

If you go sightseeing in Japan, chances are you visit both Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples. Your guide will explain to you that Shinto is indigenous religion of Japan, while Buddhism originated in India. You understand they are two separate things, but then you find a Shinto Shrine standing in the precinct of a Buddhist temple! That is actually very common, but you may wonder what is going on. Not many guides can explain this phenomenon very well, because it is something very normal to them and is hard to verbalize. Japanese are said to be born Shintoist, to get married in Christian style and then to die as a [...]