Over the long history of the world, one of the most debatable topics is the Chinese vs Japanese culture. History has witnessed many revolutions and other developments due to which China and Japan have entirely evolved from nothing to strong independent nations. The real reason for Chinese vs Japanese cultures is hidden in history.
When we talk about Chinese vs Japanese history, there are specific reasons why it has always been Chinese vs Japanese. Sadly, very few people are aware of all the various reasons why China and Japan have never become friends. Today, I will take you to tour the history of these two well-known countries and the motivation to their not so direct, but a cold rivalry.
When we look at people who belong to these two countries, we tend to get confused if they belong to China or Japan, and it is shocking that some people even end up believing that Chinese and Japanese people have no differences at all. This interpretation is wrong as both the countries and their cultures might seem similar but are different in several aspects that people might never have noticed.
Let us get into the detailed analysis of Chinese vs Japanese right from the beginning of their time.
1. The 19th Century
The Chinese and Japanese cultures had gradually started establishing in the 19th century. When we talk about Chinese vs Japanese, it is imperative to compare and contrast how these nations began building. Let us look at the Chinese vs Japanese nation at the beginning of their time.
East Asia during this period was dominated mainly by China, while on the other hand, Japan was a small island nation that was relatively isolated. In no time, china faced immense problems that were related to the political structure as well as the social structure. The imperial government had lost its dominations and was unable to revive the old law and order.
Besides, China also had to face the colonial challenge. Japan, however, became a prosperous country due to the growth in the industrial economy. In addition to all of these achievements, Japan annexed Taiwan in 1895 and Korea in 1910.
2. Geographical Contrast
The geography of the two nations is another crucial aspect to understand the Chinese vs Japanese cultures. These Chinese vs Japanese cultures can be understood by looking at the Chinese vs Japanese geography. China is located at such a place that it experiences a variety of climates and has three main rivers, namely, the Huang he river, the pearl river, and the ching Jiang river.
The Ching Jiang river is the third-longest river in the world. China also consists of beautiful mountain ranges. The people in China majorly belong to an ethnic group called Han, and the dominant language in China is Putonghua, also known as Chinese all over the world.
However, there is a great deal of diversity in China, including Uighur, Hui, Manchu, and Tibetian. Some other minor languages are also spoken in China, along with the dominant language.
Japan, on the flip side, is a chain of islands out of which there are four largest islands, namely, Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Hokkaido. Most of the regions located in the nation of Japan are prone to earthquakes. These conditions have encouraged architecture in Japan. The population here is mostly Japanese, but some Koreans can be found. These Koreans are said to be forcibly brought from Korea when it was under Japanese control.
When we talk about the current geographical status of both nations, we can make a few critical observations. China is a country that has its customs and is pretty diverse, whereas Japan being an island, is relatively isolated from any external factors. Hence, the Japanese culture is unique as compared to the other nations.
3. The Political Systems in the Early Years
The political history is significant for defining a nation’s current scenario. Let us take a look at Chinese vs Japanese political systems in their early years.
A variety of rulers has ruled Japan. Till the 12th century, Japan was led by the king or the emperor of Kyoto. However, it was the 12th century when thinking lost his imperial powers to Shoguns. From the 17th century to the beginning of the 19th century, this prosperous nation was ruled by the members of the Tokugawa family.
The country was divided into around 250 units under the rule of lords, also known as a daimyo. Other several changes took place due to the administration. Some of the significant changes were the emergence of large and populated cities, namely, Osaka and Kyoto.
Besides, the changes in the political structure let to economic prosperity in Japan, and there was a new system of credits and finance that was created under bold and smart rulers. Japan was very modern even before the real phase of modernization occurred. Money based transactions were quite famous in this region, and merit was the most valued aspect.
There was a lot of growth in towns, and vibrant culture has blossomed in no time. This was the specialty of the massive political structure of Japan that got extended to the social and economic spheres as well. Japan was thus, well developed even before the real modernization had begun. Chinese vs Japanese modernization is also a significant part of the development of Chinese vs Japanese cultures.
The main aim of the Chinese empire, on the other hand, was to fight the challenges that were posed by the western traditions. Chinese rulers wanted to end the humiliation of foreign occupations and bring out equality and development. The colonial rule and western traditions were the main reasons China, as a nation, took a lot of time to develop itself into something that should have started much earlier.
Three groups affected the growth of China in the political sphere. The first group was of reformers who tried to use traditional ideas to fight the western tradition. The second group belonged to republican revolutionaries such as Sun yat-sen, greatly influenced by the West and even Japan.
The third and the final group was the communist party of china, which many people know about. The CCP or the communist party of china wanted to fight the inequalities and bring prosperity by bringing an end to the long-drawn chaos in the country by driving out the foreigners.
This contrast in the political systems was one of the primary reasons for the different pace of development in china and japan, which further led to what we call Chinese vs Japanese cultures.
When we come close to people who belong to these two nations, they appear almost the same. To make it easier for you to find out who is Chinese and Japanese, it is essential to discuss the Chinese vs Japanese appearances.
The appearance is probably the most similar thing that can be noticed in Chinese and Japanese people. However, it is said that the complexion of the people differs. The Japanese living in northern Japan are generally slightly pale skinned due to the environment and climatic conditions of the area.
Chinese people have a mixture in their complexion because they have a great deal of diversity based on cultures and climatic conditions. However, Chinese people generally have a white face and can be differentiated from the Japanese most of the time.
Some people also believe that the shape of the face can help in differentiating between them. Japanese people generally have a longer and broader look, whereas Chinese people have a rounder face, which is almost like a proper circle.
The eyes of the people who belong to these two nations might look remarkably similar, but it is said that their eyes are located at different angles. The Japanese eyes are slightly angled towards the lower side, whereas the Chinese people have slightly bigger eyes angled upwards. However, this aspect requires close attention and excellent observational skills.
The makeup that is used by the women in both these nations is quite different from each other. Japanese women usually prefer applying neutral makeup, which is almost invisible. On the other hand, Chinese women apply slightly stronger makeup with a smoky look and red lipstick, easily observed.
5. The Languages
This is one of the famous controversies in Chinese vs Japanese cultures. Chinese and Japanese people use remarkably similar language, and thus, many people have claimed that the Japanese wording has been copied from the Chinese language or vice versa.
Chinese is written in Hanji, whereas Japanese is written in kanji, which is exceptionally similar to hanji. Along with kanji, the Japanese also have syllabaries of their own, namely, hiragana and katakana.
Hanji and kanji can be differentiated based on their pronunciation, and while writing, the Japanese language of kanji is written in blocks. Besides, there are several possible pronunciations of the letters and words in kanji, but hanji has various words, and each word has only one pronunciation.
The Chinese language was officially a language in 1913, one year after it turned into a republic. After surviving years, this language was given a script that was created by scholars. It is also one of the most spoken languages in the world today.
Before the 4th century AD, Japan had no real language or writing system. It is said that back then, Japanese people had started adopting the Chinese script and learning it. Several people worldwide also believe that Japanese people had begun writing the language of the Chinese people in their style so that it has some differences.
They also used the Chinese language provided; the grammar was different from the grammar that the Chinese people used. Later on, in Japan, two scripts were created by putting in a lot of hard work and brainpower to get a unique language that can be differentiated from the language of china easily.
Another significant difference in languages is the difference in how the sentences are formed. Chinese form their sentence in a subject-verb-object manner, whereas Japanese people write their language in a subject-object-verb way.
Another essential comparison that can be made is the Chinese vs Japanese food. This will help you understand some of the significant differences between the cultures of the two nations that you might never have noticed.
Japanese food is known for its lightness and is generally healthier than Chinese food. Chinese food contains many greases and other inclusions in their fare that might not suit your stomach. Even though Japanese food consists of rice meals, it is much healthier than what the Chinese people consume.
The Chinese and Japanese people prepare these food items by using different methods. The Chinese people generally use a utensil known as a wok to fry food properly by turning the things. This results in evenly cooked and tasty food items. Chinese people love fried foods.
Japanese people use teppan for cooking food at a high temperature. The teppan is a favorite utensil that is similar to a grill table and helps in cooking food on the outside layer and retaining the juicy texture of the inside portion of the cooked food.
Japanese people generally prefer eating raw food instead of cooking everything. The most surprising part about Japanese food habits is that they even eat raw fish!
Chinese also consume some raw food items, namely, spices like green onion and garlic. The Chinese people also focus on making the food look excellent and attracting the consumer and giving them unique names. The Chinese people never forget adding a lot of spices and herbs in their food to make it look delicious.
Some famous Chinese food items include chow Mein, orange chicken, egg flour soup, and several other food items. Some widespread examples of foods eaten in Japan are udon, ramen or noodles, yakisoba, katsu, and tempura. Rice is the staple food in this region, and their protein consumption includes raw fish, also known as sushi, which is a food item widely known in the world.
Japanese people are also very fond of drinking tea, and many of them like to drink black tea. Tea is generally used for digestion and, thus, is drunk after their main meal is over.
7. The Aspect of Discipline and Politeness
It is a general perspective that Chinese and Japanese people are much more polite than the people who belong to western cultures. However, it is also noticed that there is a slight difference between the level of politeness of the people of China and the people who belong to Japan. Let us compare the aspect of Chinese vs Japanese courtesy and discipline.
The people who belong to the Chinese culture are generally formal primarily with the elders of the family and do not treat the younger people with the same amount of respect. Contrastingly, Japanese people show the same relation to people who belong to all ages. They even make sure that they are polite with the people they share their class with.
One of the main differences in the Chinese people and those who belong to Japan is that Japanese, when compared to Chinese, are far more discipline. They believe strongly that the etiquette of a particular place must be followed strictly, and they are always seen following rules. You can rarely spot out two Japanese people fighting publicly.
Chinese people, on the other hand, are quite loud and do not necessarily care about the etiquette and discipline of a place.
The people of both cultures generally bow down and address people. However, it is observed that Japanese people focus on this gesture more and are quite strict about bowing down and greeting people. Contrastingly, the Chinese people have replaced this gesture of bowing down with a gesture of the western culture called a handshake.
The remarkable difference in both cultures is evident in the way that they treat people around them. Japanese people find it rude if someone does not bow down to greet, but Chinese people are okay with shaking hands and not greeting people by bowing down.
Japanese people are famous for using nonverbal communication and gestures while talking. They are quiet people who like peace around them generally. This nonverbal communication is a sign of respect for the Japanese people.
Another essential thing that is observed in these two cultures is the volume of the voice while speaking to someone. The Japanese people speak in hushed tones when they are in a public place and tend to be more polite, whereas Chinese people do not have any prohibition on speaking loudly in public places.
Thus, when you see a group of Asian people talking and laughing loudly, being Chinese is more than the possibility of them being Japanese.
8. Path to Modernization
These histories of China and Japan led them to two divergent paths during the process of modernization so that they could build their independent nations. This is another aspect of understanding Chinese vs Japanese.
Japan, as a nation, was very successful in gaining independence from all the problems that the country had faced. The modernization in Japan also led to imperialism, which is also called aggressive nationalism due to which the demand for a democratic nation increased.
The country of Japan wanted to follow the western imperial powers and imitate them to build a prosperous nation. However, there were a few people who tried to free Japan from the west of forces, but the others were fine with whatever was happening.
Contrastingly, in china, the path to modernization was challenging and full of miseries. There were western and other colonial powers that led to the breakdown of the political and social structure of the nation, along with a few civil wars that affected the people in the country and took a toll on human lives.
In this miserable situation, China had to face another exceptionally depressing phase due to natural disasters. The CCP helped china to fight inequalities and put an end to the old traditions. They even helped in building a highly centralized state. Besides, CCP has carried several market reforms and made the nation much economically powerful.
All of this happened because the political system of china was tight. However, today china faces a lot of inequalities and problems, and again, this situation poses a challenge for the Chinese government to revive the earlier heritage along with gaining prosperity in the economic sphere.
9. Pop Culture
There is a significant difference in the spread of the pop culture of both nations. This comparison is about Chinese vs Japanese pop culture.
The difference in pop cultures spread in the world is mainly because of the government of both countries. When this aspect is compared, Japanese pop culture is more widespread than Chinese pop culture. The Chinese people focus more on the political agendas and government propaganda due to which they do not focus on the pop culture of their country, and so, it is not as popular as Japanese pop culture. Hence, China is a less consumer-based society.
Some differences can be spotted in Chinese and Japanese mythology. Chinese mythology has been passed from one generation to another in the form of words. In simpler terms, the ancient Chinese people used oral communication to pass on their stories and legends to the next generations.
Japanese mythology, contrastingly, is the collection of traditional folklore, which included stories, poems, and legends, which was generally passed on in the written form. These beliefs had emerged in the islands of the Japanese archipelago. The cornerstones of Japanese mythology are Buddhist cultures and Shinto traditions.
11. The Wars Fought
When we dig deeper into the world of history, it is quite evident why it has always been Chinese vs Japanese. One of the primary reasons is the wars that were fought between these two nations. The detailed description of these wars is hugely depressing, and you would surely understand why there is a continuous rivalry between these two nations. Some of the Chinese vs Japanese conflicts are noted below.
- Japan invasion of Manchuria in 1931, where Japanese people invaded the Chinese nation
- The pacification of Manchukuo from 1931 to 1942
- There was a famous incident of January 28th in the year 1932 between the republic of china and the empire of Japan in and around shanghai.
- Actions followed the defense of the great wall in 1933 in Mongolia.
- The most infamous invasion of all time; the Nanjing invasion, which caused a loss of several lives.
Hence, there are several ways in which Chinese culture and people differ from Japanese culture and the people in Japan. China and Japan have gone through a very long history of differences, which made it Chinese vs Japanese and not Chinese with Japanese. No one can ever predict if these two countries will ever come forward for friendship.