The number of foreigners learning Japanese continuously increases each year. This therefore leads me to believe that these people must have an interest in Japan. However, it does make one wonder what images they have of Japan. Do these people really have a good and right image of Japan? I am acquainted with a few of these people and they claim their love of Japan is due to its fascinated with their own culture and heritage? The Japanese are amongst the easiest people to get along with, even if one does not understand them completely. Understanding the Japanese is one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome, however this should not deter anyone from trying to comprehend Japan and her people. The purpose of my essay then is to increase my readers understanding of Japan and its people, especially give their rather complex characteristics.
Being part of a group is very important to the Japanese. As a starting point for my analysis of the Japanese I would like to discuss the balance between the individual and group within the Japanese culture. The human race is made up of individuals, but each is born and lives, for most part of his or her life within a group or community.
Various societies differ greatly especially with respect to the emphasis placed on being an individual or being part of a community. This difference is obvious when comparing the Japanese to the Western culture as the Japanese would sacrifice the individual for the good of the group. This ideology extends beyond the group of the people's sacrifice for the common benefit of the country as this is seen as something to be proud of.
As compared to the Westerners, the Japanese prefer to exist as a group. While Westerners put on a show of independence and individuality, most Japanese will be quit content to conform to their community in dress, conduct, lifestyle and even thoughts. This is all part of maintaining "face”- originally a Chinese term but is of most importance to the community.