The 3 Keys To Discipline According To Japanese Culture

The 3 keys to discipline according to Japanese culture

Discipline lies beyond talent, even beyond intelligence. For the Japanese, this dimension is fundamental and needs to be taught to children from an early age. Thanks to her and a feeling of integrity, Japanese society maintains its order in the most diverse areas, in social, educational, economic, etc.

Often times, the western population admires the manners and exquisite correctness that characterize the Japanese. But we’re also impressed with how they settle in the markets, for example, by creating companies that are as solid as they are productive. We also marvel at their ability to recover from adversity. They did it after World War II, and also after the Fukushima nuclear accident.

We also know that in terms of perseverance, resistance and discipline they have firm roots, those that shaped the Zen monks or samurai in their day.

The need to be effective in bringing their work, attitude, courtesy, and willingness to the fore for the good of the community is something that undoubtedly continues to grab our attention. Perhaps we have also noticed that this Japanese approach can sometimes escalate to extremely high standards, with which many people, especially the younger ones, clearly feel overwhelmed.

Hence the fear, the stress and the high suicide rate, which continues to increase year after year. It is therefore not necessary to draw from this extremism in which discipline restricts freedom and self-realization. However, it is advisable to learn from this philosophy in order to adapt it to our daily contexts.

“With faith, discipline and selfless devotion, there is nothing useful that you cannot achieve.”

Mohammed Ali Jinnah

Fishermen in balance

Japanese Culture Discipline – 3 Keys To Use

One noticeable aspect is the Japanese language itself. There are some expressions here that do not exist in other languages. Here, too, the importance of recognizing others and their work becomes clear. Phrases like “Otsukaresama desu” (in English, for example, “I humbly praise you in your state of exhaustion” ) are just one of many ways to describe the appreciation of the work and effort of others.

Discipline is the root that nourishes and supports everything in almost every context. It promotes talent and in this culture is often worth more than your own intelligence. So let’s look at these three keys that allow the Japanese to develop them.


A good organization has two advantages: Gaining efficiency and saving time. It is more than necessary in every way. An organized home is a home in harmony. A school in which every teacher, student and staff member has clear roles improves the efficiency of academic work. At the same time, good organization in a work environment, whether small or large, enables us to optimize tasks and respond more readily to challenges. We must not forget that in Japanese companies the managers pay attention to countless details of their daily work. The commitment of each individual is fundamental.

Marie Kondo


Cleanliness is more than just removing dirt from rooms. It’s also about finding and maintaining a balance in life. A well-known example is the great success of personalities like Marie Kondo and her method of tidying up and cleaning houses. Anything dirty and messy has an impact on wellbeing and the mind. Therefore, it is necessary to take a number of steps to restore harmony in all rooms.

In order to promote discipline, the Japanese therefore early on implemented a strategy known as the “five S”:

  • Seiri: Throwing away what is no longer useful or desired
  • Seiton: Everything has to have its place, an exclusive room
  • Seiso: Everyone, including children, has to make sure that all public and private spaces are kept clean
  • Seiketsu: Standardized cleanliness, clear rules that can be understood by everyone
  • Shitsuke: Also means “discipline” and implies the daily compliance with the aforementioned points.


Another key to discipline according to Japanese culture is undoubtedly punctuality. Aside from what we might think, however, this term doesn’t just mean that we observe schedules and do our tasks exactly at the predetermined time.

Punctuality also means being firm about our goals. It’s about setting a goal and achieving it. It’s about setting a number of daily goals and implementing them efficiently and quickly. It’s about having long-term goals and working towards them. All of this forms a heterogeneous dimension that includes will, commitment and daily effort that eventually becomes discipline.


In conclusion, all of these points are linked to a self- need that can sometimes seem disproportionate. Everything has to be in balance. For example, we know that in Japan the levels of discipline, pressure and moral values ​​are so high that many people who feel unable to resist will choose suicide.

It is not appropriate to go to these extremes, to this often oppressive demand that robs freedom and quality of life. We can learn from Japanese culture, but we should always apply these values ​​to their proper degree. We can be inspired by concepts like integrity, resilience, respect for others, and a sense of community without drifting into such dangerous psychological abysses.

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