Anime Underground Anime That Actually Teach You About Traditional Japanese Culture  

Anna Lindwasser
1.9k votes 629 voters 29.2k views 20 items

List Rules Vote up the anime that taught you the most about traditional Japanese culture.

While most anime is focused on modern-day Japanese life, or life in fantastical worlds, there's actually a lot of anime with roots in traditional Japanese culture. These shows not only have great stories with compelling characters, but they're also a wonderful way to learn about real, traditional Japanese culture (without having to crack open a textbook).

Do you want to learn about rakugo, a form of Japanese storytelling? Try Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju. How about shogi, a form of Japanese chess? Try March Comes in Like a Lion. There's anime about traditional Japanese culture of every kind, so choose the one that best suits you.

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Chihayafuru is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Anime That Actually Teach You About Traditional Japanese Culture
Photo:  Madhouse

Chihayafuru centers around an high school club with an unusual focus, karuta. Karuta is a physically and intellectually challenging card game based on Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, a Japanese anthology of 100 poets.

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Rurouni Kenshin is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Anime That Actually Teach You About Traditional Japanese Culture
Photo:  Studio Gallop

Rurouni Kenshin is far from the only anime that focuses on samurai, but it's one of the most well-known. Samurai were members of the warrior caste in medieval and early-modern Japan. They generally belonged to clans, and were expected to serve a daimyō, or a feudal lord.

They followed Confucian teachings, and their behavior was often used as a model for other castes and classes.

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Barakamon
Barakamon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Anime That Actually Teach You About Traditional Japanese Culture
Photo:  Kinema Citrus

Barakamon follows a young man named Handa Seishuu, as he learns how to balance his calligraphy career with his mental health. Calligraphy is a form of artistic writing, and it has particular importance in Japan.

Almost every country with a writing system uses some form of calligraphy.

Natsume's Book of Friends is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Anime That Actually Teach You About Traditional Japanese Culture
Photo:  Brain's Base

Natsume's Book Of Friends is one of many anime that include yokai, a variety of supernatural monsters, spirits, or demons that show up frequently in traditional Japanese folklore. Other shows include xxxHolic, Kekkaishi, and Mushi-Shi

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