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Comparison of the Culture of China and Japan

The world is made of many nations, unique and mostly unknown to others. The cultures that are close by geographically are better known between themselves, as people have to communicate with each other. But if cultures are far away separate from other peoples, then very little is known about them. One such culture can be found in the East more precisely in China and Japan. This part of the world is very ancient when comparing to other countries and people do not know what the beliefs, norms and traditions are. Unfortunately this lack of knowledge sometimes leads to prejudice and stereotyping. The Western world is also unaware of the influence that their modern pop culture has on the other countries. Very often people base their opinion on pieces of information that are heard from friends, peers, relatives, people on the bus stop, media and many more sources the majority of which are not true. Both China and Japan have very rich and extraordinary cultures full of respectful traditions towards nature and other people. There is a deep and colorful history of past generations, which is not lost but keeps passing from one person to the next and so the traditions stay the same in time. Often people think that present Asians have no time for customs or remembering of their past and all they focus on is work and technology. It is true that both China and Japan have become a big part of the modern world. A lot of products are sold in the North America and this means that Chinese people are not an ancient civilization any more. It is obvious that China is very modern and is taking part in the world wide development. This shows how Chinese people are very smart and can walk together with time and with a lot of success. The same can be said about Japan. Even though it is stricter in its beliefs and traditions it involves itself greatly in the present matters that affect the whole world. Japan has always been a technological center of the world but today the industries are as developed as ever. The modern world is the time when the Eastern peoples show that their countries are well developed for the present times and can even share advice on how to exist in the world filled with competition and finances.

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When looking at China’s values towards their culture the respect they show can be seen from far away. The evidence for this is the large number of museums and galleries that tie together the past and the present. There are two thousand museums in China and their popularity continues today as much as ever. The article presents several examples of how the modern China reminds modern generation of the ancient times and the importance that it has today (Denton 567). One of the ways that history is connected with the world today is by using different innovative techniques in the presentation of historical contents. The new viewing technique where the atmosphere in the gallery is not lit brightly but the object itself is accented with light pointing to it directly is used. This makes the experience of the person at the museum very individual and unique (Denton 575). An interesting connection between the past and the future is set out in the Yuhuatai Martyrs Park. In order not to show controversial ideas of the past that led to revolution the museum connects the suffering of the past with the self-sacrifice of today, in the time of modern economic modernization and its movement forward. The way how China stays in touch with people is very beneficial because it finds possibilities to unite the society and the views that were present in the culture for many hundreds of years. One of the examples of such connection can be seen in the exhibitions that are given all over China. In particular the Huangpu Military Academy Memorial Hall displays the history of Nationalism and Communism and promotes reunification with Taiwan. This illustrates that Chinese people are not denying the past and more importantly the present and that they are set on making a better future exemplified by the past and the present (Denton 584). This proves how people are often wrong in considering Chinese people as old fashioned and very conservative. It is true that for many centuries China was very separated from the rest of the world. It was hard for people of different cultures especially Western culture, to understand something that different. And it is true that when something is unknown and different to the people, right away they think of it as strange and unacceptable for the modern world. But even when it is seen that China is moving together with the present times not many people know this and still have old views. This shows how much prejudice comes from lack of information, which is not only negative to the China but also to the people who don’t know, it makes them less educated and aware of the present world. An interesting controversy emerges when one considers the current pop culture in China. It has absorbed the young individuality and made everyone want to look the same, want the same and do everything the same way. People have somewhat lost their past spirituality and oneness” with nature (Wang 543). The influence of the modern world has reached even the far out places that were always very original in their ideas and thinking. And China’s economy and exports are growing, it is becoming one of the bigger nations in the world and so modern changes that are going to happen will be very visible.

With Japan there is a similar picture. Its history and the modern times are very much connected and the present governments support this connection. An example of this is Japan’s acceptance of two constitutions in its step towards the Western world. One is Meiji Constitution and the second is the Constitution of Japan. The first one honors the ancestors and this shows the great respect of the Japanese people. They do not forget their roots and keep very much in touch with the memory and traditions of the previous generations. Japan has always been considered a very strict society that did not welcome any outsiders and was on its own. But the changes taking place today show how it can change and adapt to the current situations and demands that are existing worldwide. And the Constitution of Japan focuses on the modern rights of people. It declares that emperor has the power but he must base his ruling on the will of people. Also that people have freedom to practice any religion and that no one will be forced to practice or participate in religion they do not want to (Okuyama 99). This very much proves that Japan is becoming a modern world country. It values the deeper rights of people, whereas before the case was different. For the longest time people were limited by the strict cultural roles and rules. The nation divided itself from the rest of the world and was considered almost “a different planet” with people being very strange and customs that are not “of this world”. This is another example where the majority of people do not know what is happening in the world and they think that pieces of information that they heard very long time ago are still true today. It is a very common mistake for people to think that it is only their country and nation that is becoming very modern and is moving along with the times while the rest of the world stands in one place with old views and understanding. An interesting tradition that many people are unaware of about the Japanese culture is “A Custom of Enshrining a Human Being as a Deity”. It explains an old custome where people are divided into three categories: those who died at an old age, those who died with strong feelings of regret or the want for revenge and the third type are people who were considered of a lower status in the deity hierarchy and would be under the higher ones (Okuyama 101). It is a very uncommon tradition that is not seen or known in the world. It is a sad fact that such great respect, which is paid to people when they die, is seen so rarely. This demonstrates how Japanese people value their ancestors and this sort of treatment should be an example for other cultures in the world. Another connection that is drawn between the present and the past is the film “Hiroshima, mon amour”, which describes the events of a horrible tragedy. This movie serves as a reminder of the grim times when people had to suffer because of some political views. It shows that even today a nation needs to be reminded of its past so that the mistakes of long before are not repeated today (Wood 185). This proves that Japanese people have a wise culture and views and could serve as example for others.

Overall the cultures that can be observed in China and Japan are very different when compared to the rest of the world. They both show how the people are not forgetting their past and where they came from. It is very wrong that a lot of people in the world think of their culture as superior to others but at the same time they don’t know their past history and real values of the ancestors. The Asian culture is unique and can be seen as a guide because it shows people how to behave the right way. It demonstrates that it is really important and respective to remember the people that made the country and nation the way it is today. The ancestors are the ones who gave a lot of effort to create the world people live in today. And it is bad that the Western world has so many wrong opinions about the East while the West itself is ignorant of own culture.


Denton, Kirk. “Museums, Memorial Sites and Exhibitionary Culture in the People’s Republic of China.” The China quarterly. 183 (2005): 565-586. Print.

Okuyama, Michiaki. Historicizing Modern Shinto: A New Tradition of Yasukuni Shrine, Harvard, United States: Harvard University Press, 2005. Print.

Wang, Jing. “Bourgeois Bohemians in China? Neo-Tribes and the Urban Imaginary.” The China Quarterly. 183.3 (2005): 532-548. Print.

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Wood, Nancy. Vectors of Memory: Legacies of Trauma in Postwar Europe, New Jersey, United States: Berg Publishers, 1999. Print.

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