March 5, 2015
China and Japan are two countries in Southeast Asia that share numerous similarities other than their geography. With a little over 1,300 miles between their capitals, both Beijing and
Tokyo have established extremely rich cultures and a sense of national identity. Their histories have collided during several periods of existence. Between the fights and altercations of China and Japan, Japan has increased their relations with the United States since the end of WWII.
With Japan listed as the thirdranking industrialized nation, China's perception of them has changed to a possible resurgent threat. Although the countries share similar religions, customs, and traditions, the recent history has caused them to diverge into two distinct modern civilizations. Archeological evidence has suggested that China and Japan have existed for over 2.24 million years. The Chinese civilization is one of the oldest in the world. The Xia dynasty,
China’s first, was established in 2200 B.C. Lasting nearly 500 years including the reigns of 17 emperors, has allowed China to become one of the worlds most prevalent countries. Meanwhile,
Japan’s history led the civilization down a much different path. Japan settled in 1200 B.C. with the Paleolithic Era. This brought a wide range of ideas, techniques of production, and materials imported from the Chinese mainland into the Jomon society. After the devastating bombing of
Japan in World War II, the beliefs of the Paleolithic Era came to an end. Shortly after, Japan started to adopt Western views on today's culture and rebuild their society.
Western beliefs continue to impinge the mannerisms of China and Japan to this day. For example, bowing is one stereotypical aspect of the Asian culture. However, it has evolved in each country over the years. In China, the handshake has become a common greeting method,
with only a slight head nod rather than the traditional bow. Yet in Japan, a slight bow resembles a casual greeting and a deeper bow resembles formal greetings. The Japanese also bow to show respect towards elders and authority figures.
Although Western beliefs have not influenced the traditions of Chinese and Japanese cuisines. Asian food may seem hard to distinguish because they share similar ingredients, cooking methods, and ideas about food. However their cuisines are distinctly different. Both cuisines are represented by using an abundance of fresh ingredients. The customs and types of food consumed vary according to region. Inland Chinese dishes are often flavored with spices such as Szechuan Peppercorns, Star Anise, and Five Spice Powder. Chinese cuisine also relies more on stirfrying as a cooking method using more beef, pork and poultry for protein opposed to Japan’s use of seafood. Japanese cuisine is influenced by their coastlines and use more seafood for their dishes. For example, in a standard Japanese kitchen you will find Tuna,
Yellowtail and Salmon. Also some common household items are Rice Vinegar, Mirin and Saké.
All of these ingredients can be found in the Sushi, which became Japan’s most renowned dish.
Japanese dishes also tend to showcase more subtle flavors than Chinese food to promote a calm and collected environment.
In Chinese and Japanese traditions, certain spices and dishes develop a specific mood or emotion. During the most acclaimed holiday in China and Japan, the Lunar New Year, you will find Ginger to represent youth and Wasabi Powder to illustrate the wisdom and level of maturity as you move into the New Year. In China, the New Year's Eve dinner is the most essential meal for the citizens like the Thanksgiving dinner held in the United States. The family comes together to represent prosperity and unity, especially for those with family members away from