Culture - Japanese

WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 35108 [post_author] => 5242 [post_date] => 2015-05-28 09:30:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-05-27 23:30:15 [post_content] => There is a cultural significance for every Japanese custom, even when it comes to sitting down. While most of us are used to sitting on the chair, the Japanese have a technique and style called "Seiza", which literally means ‘proper sitting’ when you are sitting on the floor. Sitting Seiza

Image Courtesy: Jonas Rabbe used under the Creative Commons Licence

While there were many 'proper' ways of sitting in ancient Japan, such as sitting cross-legged, or with one knee raised, the seiza came about during the Muromachi period of 1336 to 1573. During this time the development of Japanese architecture, in which the floors were covered with tatami (thick straw mats), combined with the strict formalities of the ruling warrior class, heralded the adoption of seiza as the respectful way to sit. Sitting in seiza is an expected sitting posture in martial arts, tea ceremonies, and while doing traditional arts such as calligraphy and ikebana flower arranging. In modern karate-do, taekwondo, judo, and many other arts, the role of proper etiquette is a vehicle to show respect, develop discipline and train the mind and body. By being respectful you show appreciation for your art, your study, the teacher and other students.

SeizaPhoto courtesy of Royalty-free Google images

To sit in seiza, you would have to first kneel down on the floor, then fold your legs under the thigh and rest the buttocks on your heels. The ankles are then turned outward in a slight "V" shape while the tops of your feet are stretched flat on the floor. The correct posture in seiza should have your legs neatly folded with your feet tucked under the body and an erect spine. Yoga practitioners would be familiar with this posture as it is similar to the ‘vajrasana'. For the uninitiated, the seiza might prove uncomfortable, but it is known to fix postures, relieves lower back pain and stiff shoulders, trains the core muscles, improves circulation and digestion, and calms your nerves while improving concentration.

SeizaPhoto courtesy of Todd Fong used under the Creative Commons Licence©

Stepping into and out of seiza is mindfully performed. There are codified traditional methods of entering and exiting the sitting position depending on occasion and type of clothing worn. If you are invited to be a guest in a Japanese household and invited to take a seat on the floor, as a courtesy it would be honourable to try sitting seiza atop a cushion, as this is seen as the height of politeness and will give one a very good impression. [post_title] => The Art of Japanese Sitting - Seiza [post_excerpt] => The Japanese have a cultural significance and while most of us are used to sitting on the chair, the Japanese have a technique and style called Seiza which literally means ‘proper sitting’, which needs you to sit on the floor. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-art-of-japanese-sitting-seiza [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-16 16:43:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-16 05:43:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://asianinspirations.com.au/?post_type=asian-culture&p=35108 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => asian-culture [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )

The Art of Japanese Sitting – Seiza

There is a cultural significance for every Japanese custom, even when it comes to sitting down. While most of us are used to sitting on the chair, the Japanese have a technique and style called “Seiza“, which literally means ‘proper sitting’ when you are sitting on the floor.

Sitting Seiza

Image Courtesy: Jonas Rabbe used under the Creative Commons Licence

While there were many ‘proper’ ways of sitting in ancient Japan, such as sitting cross-legged, or with one knee raised, the seiza came about during the Muromachi period of 1336 to 1573. During this time the development of Japanese architecture, in which the floors were covered with tatami (thick straw mats), combined with the strict formalities of the ruling warrior class, heralded the adoption of seiza as the respectful way to sit.

Sitting in seiza is an expected sitting posture in martial arts, tea ceremonies, and while doing traditional arts such as calligraphy and ikebana flower arranging. In modern karate-do, taekwondo, judo, and many other arts, the role of proper etiquette is a vehicle to show respect, develop discipline and train the mind and body. By being respectful you show appreciation for your art, your study, the teacher and other students.

SeizaPhoto courtesy of Royalty-free Google images

To sit in seiza, you would have to first kneel down on the floor, then fold your legs under the thigh and rest the buttocks on your heels. The ankles are then turned outward in a slight “V” shape while the tops of your feet are stretched flat on the floor. The correct posture in seiza should have your legs neatly folded with your feet tucked under the body and an erect spine. Yoga practitioners would be familiar with this posture as it is similar to the ‘vajrasana’.

For the uninitiated, the seiza might prove uncomfortable, but it is known to fix postures, relieves lower back pain and stiff shoulders, trains the core muscles, improves circulation and digestion, and calms your nerves while improving concentration.

SeizaPhoto courtesy of Todd Fong used under the Creative Commons Licence©

Stepping into and out of seiza is mindfully performed. There are codified traditional methods of entering and exiting the sitting position depending on occasion and type of clothing worn.

If you are invited to be a guest in a Japanese household and invited to take a seat on the floor, as a courtesy it would be honourable to try sitting seiza atop a cushion, as this is seen as the height of politeness and will give one a very good impression.

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