In today’s post, we’ll discuss about seiza(正坐／静坐, literally means the ‘proper’ or ‘right’ way of sitting), one of the most traditional sitting postures adopted on formal occasions in Japanese culture. The history of seiza could be traced back to the Muromachi period. In traditional Japanese architecture, floors in various room designed for comfort were completely covered with tatami (straw mats); thus the ruling warrior class adopted this manner of sitting as a way to show respect and formality. To sit seiza-style, one needs to be kneeling on the floor with the calves tucked under the thighs, while resting the buttocks on the heels and toes pointed to support the backside. It’s also important to keep the back straight, fold hands and put on the lap while practicing this posture.
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Seiza and traditional Japanese arts are inseparably intertwined, it is the most commonly used sitting posture for calligraphy (flower arrangement), tea ceremony and Buddhist meditation. In modern time, seiza has become less common and popular in Japanese life due to the drastic change in the style of architecture and clothing. Also, seiza is blamed for reducing blood circulation and causing pain from the tight tendons which many parents openly discourage their children from sitting in this manner. However, proponents still believe seiza is the most ideal sitting position because it leads to an alert mind and shows a high level of respect.