The 3 Keys of Discipline According to Japanese Culture

Beyond talent, beyond even one’s own intelligence, there is discipline. For the Japanese, this dimension is fundamental and must be transmitted to children from an early age. Thanks to it and the sense of integrity, Japanese society maintains a sense of order in almost any sphere, social, educational, business, etc.

Often, the western gaze continues admiring itself by the manners and exquisite correction that characterizes this culture. But it also draws our attention, for example, the way they settle in the markets creating technology companies as solid as productive.

We also admire his ability to recover from adversity. They did it in World War II and they did it also recently after the Fukushima I nuclear accident. We know, however, that in terms of persistence, resistance and discipline they have solid roots, those that traditionally defined the monks in their day Zen or the samurai.

The need to be efficient to contribute with your work, attitude, courtesy and disposition to the good of the community is something that undoubtedly continues to attract our attention. We know that sometimes, yes, this Japanese approach may fall at a high level of demand for which, many people (especially the younger ones) feel clearly overwhelmed.

Hence the anxiety, stress and high suicide rate that continues to rise year after year. There is no need to derive in this extremism, where discipline limits freedom and personal fulfillment. However, it is always positive to learn from your philosophy to adapt it (in our own way) in our everyday contexts.

“With faith, discipline and disinterested devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you can not achieve.”

-Muhammad Ali Jinnah-

The discipline according to Japanese culture, 3 keys to apply it

One aspect that stands out is the Japanese language itself. In it there are expressions that do not exist in other languages. This is where the importance of the recognition of others and of their work is also impregnated. Phrases like “O Tsukaresama Desu” (I exalt humbly in your state of exhaustion) is, for example, a way to recognize the work and effort of others.

Therefore, discipline is that root that nourishes everything and that expands in almost any context. With it talent is strengthened and it is in turn that which often has more value than the intelligence itself in this culture. Let’s see, therefore, those three keys that allow them to develop it.

The organization

An adequate organization can allow us two things: save time and gain in efficiency. Something like this is more than essential for any place and context. An organized house is a home in harmony. A school where every teacher, student and staff has clear functions, improves the development of daily work.

In turn, the organization in a work environment, small or large company, allows you to optimize tasks, act more quickly responding to challenges. At the same time, we can not ignore the fact that in Japanese companies, leaders are aware of almost every detail of day-to-day tasks. The commitment on the part of each individual is fundamental.


Cleaning is more than removing dirt from spaces, it is also offering balance to lives. An example known to all is the great success of figures such as Marie Kondo and her method of ordering and cleaning houses. Everything dirty and messy affects the well-being and the mind itself, therefore, it is necessary to carry out a series of steps to return that harmony to all space.

In this way, and to promote discipline, the Japanese put into practice very early on a strategy known as the five “s”:

  • Seiri: throw away what is no longer useful or desired.
  • Seiton: everything must have its place, an exclusive space.
  • Seiso: each person, including children, must ensure that all spaces, both public and private, are kept clean.
  • Seiketsu: have standardized cleaning rules, clear rules and understood by all.
  • Shitsuke: This term also means “discipline” and implies fulfilling the above on a daily basis.


Another key to the discipline is undoubtedly that very Japanese dimension: punctuality. Now, beyond what we can think, this term does not imply

to comply with the schedules, to attend our appointments at the exact time previously established.

Punctuality is also to be firm with our purposes. It is to set a goal and fulfill it. It is to situate a series of daily objectives and carry them out efficiently and quickly. All this forms a heterogeneous dimension that includes the will, the commitment and that daily effort of which after all, the discipline is made.


As we can see all these dimensions are endowed with a level of self-demand that sometimes may seem excessive. Everything must have its balance. We know, for example, that in Japan the level of discipline, pressure and moral values ​​are so high that many people (and especially young people under 30) unable to resist, choose suicide.

It is not convenient to reach these extremes, to this often oppressive demand that reduces freedoms and quality of life. Let’s learn from their culture, but let’s always apply these values ​​in their proper measure. Inspire ourselves of their integrity, of their resilience, respect for others and the community but do not lead to dangerous psychological precipices at times.