No, I'm not talking about your basic, everyday rituals like the one I have in the morning (wake up, go turn computer on, shuffle to kitchen and make coffee, shuffle back and check e-mail....). No, I'm talking about rituals that are hundreds of years old and observed pretty much as they were hundreds of years ago.
Coming from a relatively new culture, some of the ways of doing things here in Japan (which is waaaaaaaaay older than the U.S.) seem, well....tedious....old fashioned....and sometimes a complete pain in my butt...BUT....I do them, because, well...."when in Rome...." and...oh yeah...Lord knows I don't want to upset the "wa" of a situation. (Which will probably surprise people who have known me for years...yes, my friends, my rebel-rousing days are slowing down.) Actually, to be completely honest...I've come to like some of the rituals...they may be a bit of a pain, but...I've gotten used to them.
**Note: wa is the harmony, peace and balance of everyday life. Japanese work very hard to keep the wa. As I was once told by a Japanese friend, "You must respect the wa."
In the Japanese culture, rituals are very important. Take, for example, ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement), which has roots (!!) that date back to the 6th century.
The main idea of ikebana is to "respect the harmony between man and nature by using 3 stems ...representing heaven, earth and man."
There are many schools of ikebana, each having their own philosophy and way of doing things. Certain flowers only go with certain plants and colors and there is meaning to most everything that is done and well.....my personal philosophy of ikebana ("flowers....vase.....Voila!") doesn't even come close to what all is involved in this art. I know ladies who have studied ikebana for years and when I asked them if they were almost finished, one lady said that she "would probably never be finished...there is always something new to learn".
**Those pictures not belonging to me were borrowed from my friends at GoogleImages.