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Does age matter in Japan?


Age matters in many cultures and societies around the world, and Japan is no exception. In Japan, age plays a significant role in how individuals are perceived, respected, and treated. This article will explore the cultural significance of age in Japan and how it affects various aspects of life.

Historical Context

Japan has a long history of valuing age and experience. In ancient times, elders were revered for their wisdom and knowledge, and they played an important role in decision-making. This tradition has continued to the present day, where older individuals are still respected for their experience and expertise.

Japanese Snack Box

Language and Honorifics

One of the most noticeable ways that age matters in Japan is through language. Japanese has a complex system of honorifics that are used to show respect to others. Older individuals are typically addressed with more formal honorifics than younger ones, which demonstrates the importance placed on age.

Workplace Culture

Age also plays a significant role in Japanese workplace culture. In many companies, seniority is highly valued, and older employees are often given more respect and responsibility than their younger counterparts. This can make it difficult for younger workers to advance in their careers.

Social Relationships

Age also affects social relationships in Japan. Older individuals are often viewed as authority figures and are treated with deference and respect. Younger individuals are expected to show respect to their elders, which can sometimes create tension between generations.

Festivals and Celebrations

Many festivals and celebrations in Japan revolve around age. For example, the Shichi-Go-San festival celebrates the growth and well-being of children who have reached certain ages (3, 5, and 7 for girls; 3 and 5 for boys). Similarly, there are ceremonies to mark coming-of-age milestones such as the Seijin-shiki ceremony for 20-year-olds.


Age also plays a role in healthcare in Japan. The country has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, and older individuals make up a significant portion of the population. As a result, there are specialized healthcare services available for seniors.

Cultural Expectations

In Japan, there are certain cultural expectations associated with different age groups. For example, it is common for young people to work part-time jobs while they are in school, but once they reach a certain age (usually around 22), they are expected to find full-time employment.

Pensions and Retirement

Japan has a comprehensive pension system that provides financial support for retirees. However, the age at which individuals become eligible for these benefits has been gradually increasing due to the country’s aging population.

Family Dynamics

Family dynamics in Japan also place importance on age. The eldest son (or daughter) is traditionally responsible for taking care of his or her parents as they age. This can create pressure on older siblings to provide financial support or caregiving assistance.

Pop Culture

Age also plays a role in Japanese pop culture. Many popular TV shows and movies feature characters of different ages, each with their own unique perspectives and experiences. This diversity helps to reinforce the importance of age in Japanese society.


In conclusion, age matters in Japan in many different ways. From language and workplace culture to family dynamics and healthcare, age is intertwined with many aspects of life in Japanese society. Understanding these cultural norms can help foreigners navigate Japanese society more effectively and respectfully.

Is age a big deal in Japan?

Reaching adulthood is an important milestone for young individuals globally, as it allows them to legally partake in various activities they may have been waiting to do. In Japan, attaining the age of majority is considered a significant event and is celebrated with a special day dedicated to those who turned of age the previous year.

What age is considered old in Japan?

The age of adulthood was long defined as starting from 20 in Japan, as first stipulated in an 1876 proclamation. From April 1, 2022, however, through a revision in the Civil Code, it has been lowered to 18.Apr 1, 2022

Is it normal for adults to date high schoolers in Japan?

In some parts of the world, high school dating is not seen as a significant event, but in Japan, it takes on a different meaning. The practice involves pairing young girls with much older men, often resulting in financial transactions. The activities involved can range from a simple walk to a drink at a bar.

Does Japan have age discrimination?

Japanese law does not regulate age discrimination.Oct 1, 2018

Why is the age 20 special in Japan?

This National holiday commemorates the event when individuals attain adulthood at the age of 20. With the new law coming into effect in April 2022, the legal age of adulthood will be lowered to 18, allowing more people to celebrate this important milestone with great excitement.

What age can you marry in Japan?

In Japan, someone is considered an adult if they are 20 years old or older. The Civil Code states that a man cannot get married until he is 18 years old and a woman cannot get married until she is 16 years old.

Challenges and Opportunities

While age is highly respected in Japan, it can also create challenges for younger generations. As the population ages, there are concerns about a shrinking workforce and the sustainability of the pension system. At the same time, there are opportunities for younger individuals to take on leadership roles and innovate in areas such as technology and healthcare.

International Perspective

Japan’s cultural emphasis on age can be quite different from other countries. For example, in Western cultures, youth is often celebrated and valued more highly than age. This can create misunderstandings and cultural clashes when interacting with individuals from different backgrounds.

Changing Attitudes

While age has long been valued in Japanese society, there are signs that attitudes may be changing. Younger generations are more likely to challenge traditional norms and expectations, and there is a growing movement towards promoting diversity and inclusivity.

The Future of Age in Japan

As Japan continues to grapple with an aging population, the role of age in society is likely to evolve. There may be increased emphasis on supporting seniors while also empowering younger generations to take on leadership roles. At the same time, cultural traditions around respect for elders are likely to remain strong.

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