Israel and Japan: A long-lasting friendship

Since May 14, 1948, Israel has made many friends all over the globe. It is not rare to see members of the United States Senate cheering for Israel or passing laws that benefit the life of Jews both there and in the Land of Milk and Honey. But the US isn’t the only country rooting for Israel and cultivating a long-lasting friendship of mutual inspiration and cultural exchange.

Among this list of countries, we can find some locations in South America, some others in Europe, but even if you don’t believe us, today we’d like to speak about one country in which its people are even singing Israeli folk songs in their very own adapted version: We are talking about Japan.

Did you also know that there’s a theory that Israel and Japan have common ancestry?

So, how does this work? Japan and Israel? Common ancestry? Cultural and economic exchange? Yes, yes, and yes. If you want to learn more about this amazing relationship, make yourself comfortable, put on some nice Israeli music in the background and get ready for some information you have probably never heard before.

Let’s start in the 1950’s: Japan’s recognition of the State of Israel

It wasn’t until 1952 that Japan recognized Israel and the first diplomatic representative office was opened in Tokyo. Since then, constant visits from their Prime Ministers and Israel’s Prime Ministers have been held in both locations.

The last visit, up to the date this article was written, was from Japan’s Prime Minister Mr. Shinzo Abe in 2015.

And what about the economy?

Japan imports many things from Israel. Primarily, they import polished diamonds, chemical products, machinery, electrical equipment, and citrus fruit. At the same time, Japan exports to Israel, among other things, cars, electrical equipment, and chemical products.

There has been growing trade between the two countries in terms of technology, as well as partnerships between startups and venture capitals. Do you remember when we talked about crazy Israeli startups? Well, many of them are used daily in Japan!

And what about music?

We’re sure that one of the first things that came to your mind when we brought up music was Neta’s style in the 2018 Eurovision contest. And yes, Neta’s look was greatly inspired by the Japanese culture, but that is not everything…

There are several Japanese folk songs that have many similarities with Israeli folk and popular music. We’re not talking about a few of the same musical notes here and there, but about a pattern that repeats itself once and again, many times!

It wouldn’t be rare to be walking around Osaka or Yokohama and hear some familiar beats we used to hear on our Birthright trip or even during some holiday at grandma’s house.

An Israeli folk song – “Mayim Mayim” has also become very popular in Japanese culture, it’s even used in commercials:

Incredible theory: The roots of Japan were ancient Hebrew tribes

This amazing theory says that the Japanese people were the main part of the 10 lost tribes of Israel. Although this theory had very little impact in Japan itself, there are many interesting mysteries that show more than just similarities between these two ancient cultures.

Some people study a deep connection between the Hebrew alphabet and the Japanese letters, saying that each symbol utilized in Japan is the mix between 2 or more Hebrew letters.

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But it goes beyond that. At the beginning of the Jewish year, and at the beginning of the Japanese year, there is the traditional custom of throwing rocks into the river. The tradition Jewish people know as the “tashlich” is also present in the Japanese culture, and it has the exact same meaning: Getting rid of the bad, throwing away our sins, and starting a new year with less weight on our shoulders.

Like this one, there are many other facts and interesting elements to this theory, and if you want to spend some time studying them, we truly recommend this series of YouTube videos that will explain a bit deeper this – apparently – ancient connection.

Learn Hebrew today! It is easier than learning Japanese

Interesting, isn’t? As you see, learning Hebrew can open the door to understanding various cultures from all over the globe. It is time to make the step and to start learning this ancient, interesting, fun language.

In our online, live Hebrew courses this is easier and funnier than ever. Join today, learn some Hebrew and in a few weeks from now you could be even be singing in Japanese, with no extra effort!

Yalla! Give it a try! You won’t regret it…

About the author

Arie Elbelman R.Arie was born and raised in Chile, and immigrated to Israel in his early twenties. He wants to take an active role in the development of this young and smart country. Arie believes that the best way to shape our present and future is to live with more horizontal hierarchies, to smile a whole lot, and to always, always respect each other.

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