Chinese vs. Japanese Culture
November 1, 2014
China, the world’s longest continuous civilization, with some historians marking 6000 B.C. as the dawn of Chinese civilization. Japan, a long history with the first humans arriving around 35,000 B.C. Their histories have crossed paths during several periods of time since both civilizations have existed for centuries; however, their histories have also caused them to diverge into two very distinct modern civilizations. Through numerous aspects of the Chinese and Japanese, the similarities and differences between their cultures could be seen within religion, discrimination, education and kinship.
First and foremost, there are similarities in religion within both countries. Buddhism is a shared religion between China and Japan, and it is each one of their main religions. “Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism and originated in China during the 6th century as Chán” (Morton 38). Zen spread to Japan as well. The word “Zen” itself derived from the Japanese pronouncation of the Chinese word “Dzyen”, which is loosely translated to “meditative state”. Zen is more of an attitude than a belief. It is the peace that comes from being one with an entity rather than yourself. It emphasizes the attainment of enlightenment in the Buddhist teachings. Confucianism, which started in China, also made it’s way to Japan. Religious traditions brought from their own countries helped ease the difficulties of original Chinese and Japanese immigrants. It gave them a feeling of home. Most Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans even reflect the religious beliefs of each of their countries, depending on what generation they represent.
Nonetheless, the Chinese and Japanese each have their own specific religions they practice as well. Chinese Americans follow Confucianism—a Chinese philosophical system based on the teaching of Chinese philosopher Confucius. The underlying fundamental of Confucianism is humanism—which emphasizes the value of human beings. Chinese Americans were, and still are, immense on Confucian teaching—“that promoted family unity, respect for elders and those in authority, industry, a high value on education, and personal discipline” (Min 122). This laid the foundation for restructuring of the Chinese moral value system. Confucianism also helped with family and community. Another religion the Chinese Americans practice is Taoism, which is modernly referred to as Daoism. Taoism is about the Tao—translated as “the Way”. “The basic unity behind the universe is a mysterious and indefinable force called the Tao. Tao produces all things and all things go back to their common origin and blend into one. Absolute truth and absolute good are unknowable” (Sprunger). The word Taoism is used to refer to both a philosophy and a set of spiritual doctrines. Taoism influenced the Chinese culture over centuries. “Chinese alchemy (especially neidan), Chinese astrology, Zen Buddhism, several martial arts, Traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui, and many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history” (Morgan 32). It also spread to other countries amongst Asia. It is a religion of unity and opposites—Yin and Yang. Before the Communist revolution, Taoism was one of the strongest religions in China.
Aside from Buddhism, which is one of Japan’s major religions, is Shinto. Shinto is an indefinable way, which is universal. Shintoism is a main religion for the Japanese. “Shinto (the way of the gods), traditionally dating back to 660 B. C., is a loosely organized religion of the Japanese people embracing a wide variety of beliefs and practices” (Sprunger). A perfect understanding of Shinto will enable one to have proper understanding of the Japanese nation and their culture. The system of Shinto resembles the system of Hinduism more than that of Confucianism or Buddhism. It is more of...
References: Baker, Hugh D. R. Chinese Family and Kinship. New York: Columbia University Press,
Min, Pyong Gap. Asian Americans, 2nd edition. USA: Pine Forge Press, 2006. Print.
Morton, W. Scott. China: Its History and Culture. New York: Lippincott & Crowell,
Little, Brown and Company, 1989, 1998. Print.
Tamura, Eileen H. Americanization, Acculturation, and Ethnic Identity. USA:
University of Illinois Press, 1994
Comparative Analysis, Volume 1, Number 1. 2004. Web. 24 October 2012.
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