Which foreign country do you admire most?

The real reason the Japanese think Germany is so great

The Japanese are probably the most popular tourists in Germany. They are polite, respectful, quiet - and most of all they think everything is great. The beer is “oishii” (delicious), the Cologne Cathedral “sugoi” (amazing), the Bavarian dirndl “kawaii” (sweet).

Some Germans probably ask themselves: Why do they find us so impressive?

First of all: The fascination for a foreign culture among the Japanese is not limited to Germany. They love English football, classical music from Austria, French bakeries.

Germany is a popular travel destination for the Japanese

In fact, Germany is one of the most popular European countries for Japanese tourists. Business Insider Japan's colleagues asked their friends about what the Japanese like about Germany. And even those Japanese who have never been to Germany seem to know a surprising amount about it. "It is the land of philosophy, law, advanced medicine, rationalism - it is also a country like Japan defeated in World War II, but it is treated completely differently than we are," says Yoshimi Yamaguchi. "By the way, I've never been to Germany," she added with a laugh.

The respondents mentioned the progress of the automotive industry ("This type of design does not exist in Japanese cars"), the work ethic ("Germans drop a little faster than Japanese if they see no value in it") and the interest in politics (" Every child knows about politics and especially environmental politics and has an opinion ”) as very impressive. The process of coming to terms with the Second World War has also been described several times as exemplary (especially in comparison to Japan). Of course, football, classical music and beer could not be missing from the list. Most of the respondents also mentioned that an incredible number of Japanese people live in Düsseldorf.

Japanese take on many influences from foreign cultures

Keiko Hameda pointed out, however, that Germany is no more popular than Italy or France. Which leads to the impression of the Germans that the Japanese are so euphoric about Germany: The fascination with foreign cultures in Japan often goes beyond mere interest. When the Japanese like something from another country, they want to take it over and find a way to integrate it into their own culture. Japan is a country that wants to learn from other countries - without losing its own identity. True to the motto: If someone can do it better, why shouldn't we just take it over?

The fact that something did not originally come from Japan is also clearly indicated in the writing in Japan. Special characters, katakana, are used for foreign words or words adopted into Japanese. The Japanese word for part-time work comes from German and is ア ル バ イ ト (Arubaito - work), in contrast to 仕事 (Shigoto), which is written in Kanji and is the word for ordinary work.

Also read: "I lived in Japan for a year and learned something disturbing about relationships and sex"

The Japanese adopt sports, foods, and customs from other countries and integrate them into Japanese culture. There is no other way of explaining why baseball is the most popular sport or why curry is an everyday dish or - let's go back further - the Chinese characters Kanji are used.

Great influence from Germany in Japan in the Meiji period

And Japan also took over a lot from Germany - this is due to the fact that in the Meiji period from the middle of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century, the cultural exchange between the two countries was very large. Japan wanted to become a great power and was guided by international models such as the USA, Great Britain, France and Germany. Yoshimi Yamaguchi also told us in the survey that Japan has learned a lot from Germany: "The country served as a model when Japan was modernized."

German constitutional lawyers like Rudolf von Gneist worked on the Japanese constitution. The German military advisor Klemens Wilhelm Jacob Meckel spent three years in Japan and helped modernize the Japanese military. German physicians were brought to Japan around 1870 to reshape the medical system. The traces of this reform are still visible today: In Japanese, for example, allergy means ア ー ル ギ ー (arerugii), neurosis is called ノ イ ロ ー ゼ (noiroose), plaster of paris is called ギ プ ス (gipusu), of course everything is written in katakana.

Japanese want to learn from others

Even today there are still many allusions to Germany in popular culture. One of the most popular anime series "Attack on Titan" ("Shingeki no Kyojin") uses German names such as Jäger or Ackermann. The setting is reminiscent of German cities steeped in history such as Nördlingen or Burghausen.

Many pupils read the novel “Maihime” in grammar school, which is based on the experience of the Japanese author as a medical student in Germany.

Our survey also showed that this need to learn from others is still deeply anchored in Japanese culture: “There is so much that we can still learn from Germany,” said Ikuko Takeshita. how to deal with the past. "

This article was published by Business Insider in October 2019. It has now been reviewed and updated.