Top 6 Similarities Between Japan & Europe

Top 6 Similarities Between Japan & Europe

Japan and Europe - at first glance, there are many more differences than there are similarities between them. However, both Japan and Europe share a love of each other's culture - from Japanese video games played by Europeans to popular Japanese anime series based on 19th century European attire and manners. Those who have traveled to both Japan and Europe will have first-hand experience of how the two cultures do in fact cross over. All you need to remember is to renew you passport and fill out a form for your EHIC, and you are set to go.

Shinjuku by night, Tokyo
Japan and Europe have much in common


A big cultural similarity that both Japan and Europe share is taste and styles of music. Japanese pop, natively know as "pops" (poppusu), is a huge musical genre that began increasing in popularity in Japan in the 1990s following the more rock-inspired 1980s. Modern J-pop has certain ties in traditional Japanese music but it has mainly been influenced by 1960s European and American pop and rock music, including The Beatles (a love best symbolized in the person of Yoko Ono) and the Rolling Stones. British punk, especially the Sex Pistols - also had a very powerful influence on the Japanese music scene. These Western influences have been the inspiration for countless Japanese bands and their fans.


European fashion is probably bigger in Japan than in any other Asian country, in terms of having millions of dedicated aficionados. Any Japanese city worth its salt will sport a line-up of European fashion brands in its department stores and shopping malls, from glam catwalk Italian brands like Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo, to more street-inspired British brands like Paul Smith and Alexander McQueen. The feeling is mutual, and no major European city is without some Japanese fashion presence, whether Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake and Yoji Yamamoto. Japan street fashion is profoundly influenced by European culture, especially in the popular Lolita or Gothic Lolita looks, which draw heavily on Victorian clothing culture, and the gyaru ("gal") which draws on Mary Quant-like striking, exposed simplicity with glaring, in-your-face, accents. These European-inspired Japanese trends have, in turn, have influenced modern day European sartorial culture.

Language and Literature

The Japanese language and Western language share virtually nothing in common besides loan words. Yet it is these very loan words that are witness to the lingual love affair that, however fledgling, exists between East and West. bokeh, bonsai, cosplay, ikebana, judo, karaoke, karate, katana, konnichiwa, otaku, shogun, sushi, zen - all attest to the West's fascination with Japan. And Japan responds by peppering even its daily conversation with words like okeh ("okay"), guddo (""), sutoppu ("stop"), bakku ("back" as in "reverse" - when driving), naisu ("nice"), faito ("Fight!" - meaning "Do your best!"), daburu ("double"), arubaito ("arbeit" - usually just "baito", meaning "part-time work"), biiru ("beer"), hoteru ("hotel") and many more. In literature, too, there is much crossover. The popular Japanese author, Haruki Murakami, for example, has his books immediately translated to cater to both a Japanese and Western audience, and even extends this to the references included in them. In Murakami's book After Dark, for example, there is a reference to Curtis Fuller, the American jazz trombonist, and Denny's, a worldwide diner that originated in America. Yet the story is set in Japan! And it isn't just Haruki Murakimi's work that has been translated to accommodate a European audience, but Banana Yoshimoto, and many others too. A popular type of comic book, manga, originated in Japan and is now incredibly popular in Europe too.

Films & TV

Anime has become incredibly popular overseas, especially in Western countries. This can all be traced back to when there was a successful Western adaptation of the anime, Astro Boy, known as Atomu ("Atom") in Japan. Since then, Japanese animation has gained immense popularity in Western countries. The growth of the internet and services like Netflix has provided Western audiences an easy way to access Japanese anime films and TV shows. As well as anime there have been many Japanese films that have been adapted to accommodate a Western and European audience. One film that was originally Japanese that gained a huge fan base in Europe is The Grudge.

Video Games

All those gamers out there will understand just how much Japanese culture has affected and influenced Europe. It's no exaggeration to say that without Japan there would be no epic gaming culture. The biggest games in the Play Station 2 era like Final Fantasy and Resident Evil came from Japanese franchises. Japan, with its Nintendo and Sega, has provided European audiences with a golden age of video games.


Japanese food has become increasingly fashionable and popular in the US and most countries in Europe. Dishes such as sushi, tempura, noodles and teriyaki are some of the most common foods that are sold in restaurants in Europe and they all originated in Japan. Conversely, In Japan there are many fast food places that are just as popular in Europe as they are in Japan, such as Tully's, Italian gelato chains, and US staples such as Starbucks, McDonald's and KFC.

Japan and Europe, in spite of being on opposite sides of the globe, and in spite of a history in which there have been friction and mutual suspicion, nevertheless share a profound fascination with each other that is the grist of fantasy and creativity for both sides.