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Thread: How much of Japan's traditional culture comes from China ?

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Arrow How much of Japan's traditional culture comes from China ?

    Most people know that the kanji or Confucianism were two things imported from China by the Japanese. But exactly how much of Japanese traditional culture originated in China ? Let's have a look.

    Originated from China with few or no modifications

    The great philosophies

    Confucianism (e.g. seniority system, keigo...)
    Taoism (e.g. ancestor worship)
    Mahayana Buddhism (including Obon festival, originated in India, but modified in China and imported as such in Japan)

    The festivals and traditions

    Japanese traditional New Year (same date as the Chinese New Year until 1873)
    Tanabata
    Hina Matsuri
    Setsubun, risshun, shunbun, shubun, etc.
    Tsukimi
    Hanami (blossom viewing, typically plum, cherry or peach - note that plum blossom is the official flower of China, while cherry blossom is the official one of Japan)
    Tea ceremony (sado) (note that there is also a Korean tea ceremony older than the Japanese one)
    Flower arrangement (ikebana) (there is also a Korean flower arrangement)

    Other cultural elements

    Kanji & calligraphy (shodou)
    Traditional black-ink painting
    Wood-block printing (e.g. ukiyoe)
    Traditional architecture & garden landscaping
    Chinese medicine (kanpou), including acupuncture
    Chinese astrology
    Mahjong & go

    Objects

    Shamisen & koto
    Washi (Japanese paper), rice paper, etc.
    Lacquerware & porcelain (eg. rice bowls)
    Origami
    Kites
    Fireworks (hanabi)
    Chopsticks
    Fusuma/Kara-kami (‰¦/ŠΏŽ†)
    Arched bridges
    Canals

    Food

    All noodles (ramen, udon, soba...)
    Rice culture
    Tofu cuisine
    Soy sauce
    Tea, including green tea
    Many 'home-cooking' everyday dishes (mabo dofu, chahan, subuta, gyoza, yasai itame...)
    Rice wine

    Originated from China, but strongly modified over time

    Kimono & yukata
    Martial arts
    Traditional music

    Originally Japanese

    Shintoism (including derivatives such as matsuri, sumo...)
    Noh & Kabuki
    Hot spring culture
    Last edited by Maciamo; Oct 9, 2005 at 08:11.

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  2. #2
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    This is a nice thread. But you can find millions of other influence from other cultures.

    What do you think the things which Japanese refused to accept such as eunuch or whatever? What I am most interested in the J culure or history right now is the period when Japanese physically or politically restricted the influence of other cultures.

  3. #3
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pipokun
    This is a nice thread. But you can find millions of other influence from other cultures.
    Alright, I am waiting for the list (let's start at 2 million items then). Don't forget that this is about "traditional" Japanese culture, so before Meiji.

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    Well, I like your trivia-like threads, you know much more than avarage Japanese threads, but honestly all I can say is "you know them well. nothing more, nothing less".

    What about the genome sequence of Japanese?

  5. #5
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    to Maciamo

    How much of Japan's traditional culture comes from China ?
    Whenever I read such a question, I ask myself, "What is he aiming at ?".
    On the earth, can we find "the pure culture" which has never been influenced by the other culture ?
    I am so fool high school student that I cannot find "the pure culture" in the world.

    A new culture originates in encounter between the different cultures. It is brought up with the tender care for a long time and becomes a highly developed culture.

    If you are interested in cross-cultural comparison between Japan and China, I will advise you to read the books written by Wang Min‰€•q.

    gˆΣh‚Μ•Ά‰»‚Ɓgξh‚Μ•Ά‰»\’†‘‚Ι‚¨‚―‚ι“ϊ–{Œ€‹† ’†Œφ‘p‘
    http://www.amazon.co.jp/exec/obidos/...779759-6113064

    ------------------------------------------------------------
    It is said that in ancient times there were 4 culture areas in the world.
    Old Japan related to the Chinese culture area.
    (Chinese culture is also made by many different ethnic cultures.)
    Some yearly events in Japan originated in encounter between old Japanese culture and old Chinese culture. They were imported as events of the court life and transformed the characters in Japan. Today, They are different from Chinese ones.

  6. #6
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaerupop
    On the earth, can we find "the pure culture" which has never been influenced by the other culture ?
    I am so fool high school student that I cannot find "the pure culture" in the world.
    Chinese, Indian or Arabic cultures are quite "pure" if you ask me. If you take all Europe as one culture (without looking at inter-linguistic differences like in India or China), then it is also quite pure. Only a tiny percentage of the whole culture comes from another, completely different culture. We could argue that Christianity is the single biggest cultural import of European civilisation - except if you consider the Hebrew culture as part of European civiliation (after all, most Jews in the world lived in Europe before Israel was re-created in 1947).

    Anyway, I was just wondering how much was "original" and how much was "imported". European culture clearly grew out of the Greco-Roman civilisation. It seems to me that Japan grew as much of the Ancient Chinese civilisation as modern China, Korea or Vietnam. The roots are mostly the same, and these cultures now have more similarities than differences.

  7. #7
    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    This is an exciting field of study that deserves continued attention. There would be two approaches possible, 1) that of micro-historical study tracing all parallels and possible origins to culminate in a macroscopic overview of the specific cultural item evolving and inventing in the natural course or historical development, 2) that of conspired inventions that were cooked up during the later periods of the contending nation-states as Eric Hobsbawm and Terrence Ranger analyse in their coedited work, The Invention of Traditions (Canto S. 1983, 1992, 328 pages).

    Out of a dialectic examination of the two approaches, a more solid perpsective of national-ethnic culture can be obtained; this is thoroughly exciting line of research to pursue, not necessarily aimed at "bashing" any one particular culture; identical studies should be applied to all cultures that "boast of long-held traditions of their glorious past." Although the relativist tendency of post-modernist studies are not altogether to be accepted, it is here with us to enrich our understanding, with anthropology and archeology giving stimulating new finds to supplement our historical tunnel vision all the time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Amazon reviewer Judy Koren from Haifa Israel, July 31, 2003
    Fascinating subject, uneven quality

    The re-issue in paperback by a general publisher of an academic work originally from the CUP is a rare event. But even the original edition cast a sidelong eye at the general public, who might be willing to bear with academic minutiae for the sake of its astonishing revelations (to all but professional historians) on a subject they thought they knew about.

    If you're going to write an academic work, footnotes and all, for the "educated layman", you'd better be a good writer, lively and stylish, as well as a good academic. From that point of view, the essays in this collection are very uneven, ranging from the occasionally tongue-in-cheek polish of Hugh Trevor-Roper (on the invention of the Highland Tradition in Scotland) to the convoluted and occasionally asyntactic sentences of Prys Morgan (on "the hunt for the Welsh past"). The one invites you on an enthralling voyage of discovery, the other requires you to wade through a viscous Sargasso Sea. Nonetheless, both journeys are well worth undertaking, as are the others in the collection.

    But perhaps the most valuable aspect of the book is that it encourages us to reflect in general, quite aside from the specific examples studied, on the human need for a link to the past and evidence of superiority, if not now, then at least in a prior Golden Age. If human communities divide the world into "them" and "us", how do they define who "we" are? And what makes "us" special? On the lines of Voltaire's famous comment that "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him." we are forced to the conclusion that if a national history and culture do not exist, it is necessary to invent them. (A process traced also by Y. Nevo and myself in our study of the early history of the Umayyad State).

    It appears that the need to define one's community as valid -- by reference to an historic past -- is most acute when that community is only just established or is in decline. The lessons of this book should be kept in mind when reading the history of any nation.
    Last edited by lexico; Oct 18, 2005 at 21:16.

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    to Maciamo

    Chinese, Indian or Arabic cultures are quite "pure" if you ask me.
    If you study Chinese history, you can find that some different ethnic people ruled China by turns.

    Undoubtedly ancient Chinese culture deeply influenced on old Asian culture.
    Similarly, undoubtedly "ancient Greek culture", "ancient Egyptian culture", "ancient Roman culture" and "Islamic culture" made the base of European cultures.
    You enthusiastically find a point in common between Japan and China. But in a point in common you will be able to find a cultural gap.

    I don't want to think that you disregard the difference between Japan and China. If you do so, you will never understand Asian cultures. I don't want you to look down on Asian cultures.
    Do you believe European people could develop "ancient Roman culture" but Asian people could NOT develop "ancient Chinese culture" for a long time ?

    It seems to me that Japan grew as much of the Ancient Chinese civilisation as modern China, Korea or Vietnam. The roots are mostly the same, and these cultures now have more similarities than differences.
    I advise you to study Asian history and culture harder.
    And you will be able to notice diversity of Asian cultures.
    Last edited by miles7tp; Oct 19, 2005 at 17:05.

  9. #9
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaerupop
    If you study Chinese history, you can find that some different ethnic people ruled China by turns.
    Really ? The Mongols and Manchu only came in the 14th and 17th centuries. That's not "ancient history". In English (or European languages), "ancient" refers to the Antiquity, which ended with the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century. After that and until the 15th century, it is the "medieval" period.

    You enthusiastically find a point in common between Japan and China. But in a point in common you will be able to find a cultural gap.
    So what ? If there was no cultural gap, China and Japan would be the same nation. It is clearly not the case. Not more than France, Germany, Italy or Spain have the same culture. My point is that the differences between European cultures are similar to the differences between East Asian countries. We could even say that French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese are at the same level as the various Chinese linguistic groups (Mandarin, Cantonese, Wu, Hokkien, Hakka...), while Japanese would be like English (both being hybrid languages). Mongolian and Manchurian would be more like Scandinavian languages, and Korean like German.

    I don't want to think that you disregard the difference between Japan and China. If you do so, you will never understand Asian cultures. I don't want you to look down on Asian cultures.
    Did I disregard the differences between Japan and China. I could list dozens of differences, mainly in the way of thinking. Yet, it's interesting to see that a lot of the objects, clothes, festivals, beliefs, social systems, etc. in Japan came from China, the same way as the old Greco-Roman system (Latin alphabet, festivals, technologies...) spread to areas that were never in the Roman Empire, like Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia or Northern Germany.

    Do you believe European people could develop "ancient Roman culture" but Asian people could NOT develop "ancient Chinese culture" for a long time ?
    What does this sentence mean ?

    I advise you to study Asian history and culture harder.
    And you will be able to notice diversity of Asian cultures.
    I don't need to study more to know that. Maybe it is you who does not understand the cultural differences between European cultures. It's obvious that an English person and an Italian, or a Finn and a Greek have very little in common in terms of way of thinking and working. Likewise, the Chinese and Japanese think quite differently. But the system, fundamental values, clothing style, technologies, etc. have evolved together in all European countries, while the have also evolved at the same time in North-East Asian countries. When a new political or economic system was developed somewhere in Europe, the rest followed. Artistic current (Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic...) changed at about the same time in all Europe for architecture, painting, fashion or music. Likewise, new technologies or artistic styles in China spread to Vietnam, Korea and Japan (rarely the other way though, since China looked down on its neighbours). I would say that the main difference is that most of the "new stuff" in Asia came from China, while in Europe it could come from any region (although mostly Italy, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Britain) as no country was big and powerful enough to look down on all others. I guess that's because of the different geographical divsion of Europe and East Asia.

    I also wanted to show that countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia or Myanmar do not really belong to this "East Asian" group. They were much less influenced by China, and maybe more by India. They first followed Theravada Buddhism, as opposed to Mahayama Buddhism in China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam. They also adopted Hinduism, then Indonesia and Malaysia converted to Islam when the Muslims ruled Moghul India. These countries also did not inherit most of the Chinese inventions and traditions listed above.

  10. #10
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Really ? The Mongols and Manchu only came in the 14th and 17th centuries. That's not "ancient history".
    but
    Quote Originally Posted by kaerupop
    If you study Chinese history, you can find that some different ethnic people ruled China by turns.
    Actually, Kaerupop is quite right. Your view falls a bit short of the truth, Maciamo. A lot of ethnicities ruled China, some Chinese (you forgot that there are different Chinese ethnicities), some foreign. The Mongols were not the 1st foreign rulers in China, though perhaps the 1st who ruled all of it (don't really remember). Esp. in Northern China (during the time of South-North division) you have quite a number of foreign rulers.

    There are other foreign influences as well, eg. during Tang there were a number of high officials of Turk origin.

    I don't know, whether Kaerupop thought of this, when he wrote the above, but if you include Chinese ethnicities other than Han, you'll get even more varying influences.


    Korean like German.
    Er..., I think, your linguistic comparisons are limping a bit.

  11. #11
    TAN Hiroyuki Nagashima's Avatar
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    There are many things which descended from other than China.

    from Portugal

    Catholicism religion
    Christmas
    GUN
    Tempura
    Sponge cake(KASUTERA)
    Karuta

    from Thailand
    Shochu

    from Rome
    Valentine's Day
    (....A plot of Japanese chocolate shop)

    from U.S.A.
    Mother's Day
    Baseball

    Most things are improved for a Japanese

  12. #12
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    A lot of ethnicities ruled China, some Chinese (you forgot that there are different Chinese ethnicities), some foreign. The Mongols were not the 1st foreign rulers in China, though perhaps the 1st who ruled all of it (don't really remember).
    Foreign ruler or other ethnic group. Then it depends what you call "ethnic groups" in China. The Chinese government defines 56 ethnic groups (Wikipedia writes "nationality", but their nationality is all "Chinese citizen"). However, many of these are in fact the same ethnic group genetically. The Hui are just like the Hans except that they are Muslim. Could you give me an example of dynasty ruling most of China (not just a small kingdom) that lasted enough to have some influence on the culture (the topic of this thread) ?

    Anyhow, if this ethnic group always belonged to historical China, I'd consider them Chinese. Many European countries have not been ethnically pure since the Roman Empire. Spain and Italy have had Celts, Phoenicians/Cathaginians, Greeks, Romans, then Germanic tribes... France has had Celts, Greeks, Romans, (both southern and northern) Germanic tribes... Even if they were ruled by one then the other, they were still all European, with the possible exception of the Phoenicians (depends how one defiens "European"), who didn't leave much behind.

    Esp. in Northern China (during the time of South-North division) you have quite a number of foreign rulers.
    So, were they foreign or one ethnic group of China ?

    There are other foreign influences as well, eg. during Tang there were a number of high officials of Turk origin.
    It does not mean that the Turks ruled China. Kaerupop (=miles7tp) said "If you study Chinese history, you can find that some different ethnic people ruled China by turns." Don't forget that the topic of this thread has always been about importing culture from abroad. So to be to the point and relevant, what did Chinese culture inherit from the Turks or other non-Chinese ethnic groups ?

    Er..., I think, your linguistic comparisons are limping a bit.
    I was not saying that these languages bear any similarity (why would you think that ?). I was just giving very random comparison that if Latin languages in Europe (the big chunk in term of population) were Chinese languages (Mandarin, Wu, Hokkien, Cantonese...), then the relation between Japanese and Chinese is similar to the relation between Latin languages and English, because English comes half from French/Latin and half from Anglo-Saxon/Norse (the same way as Japanese comes half from Chinese and half from the Yamato language, itself possibly a mix of Ainu and Old Korean).

    As for Korean, I compared it to German because German also imported many words from Latin/French, like Korean language imported words from Chinese (although probably Korean imported more words). Another similarity is that the English/Anglo-Saxon left their home region of Northern Germany for a big island next to it, and the Japanese left their home region of Korea for another big island (in fact 3, and Hokkaido became Japanese about at the same time as Ireland became British). In what way is that limping ?

  13. #13
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiroyuki Nagashima
    from Portugal

    Catholicism religion
    Christmas
    Catholicism has had very little influence on Japanese culture (fortunately). The tradition of celebrating Christmas with decorated fir trees, Santa Claus, and presents does not come from Portugal. In fact, this tradition did not exist in the 16-17th century yet. It only came to Japan after WWII (probably from the Americans).

    Tempura
    Sponge cake(KASUTERA)
    If you are going to start with food, then why not list any kind of foreign food found in Japan, especially those listed here that all Japanese know.

    from Thailand
    Shochu
    What makes you think that Shochu comes from Thailand ? The Chinese call it shao1 zhou4 (ΰ–Žπ) and the Korean call it soju. So my guess is that it comes from China (or Korea).

    from Rome
    Valentine's Day
    (....A plot of Japanese chocolate shop)
    If it is true that Saint Valentine was a Roman martyr, and that 14 February is close to the Ancient Roman festival of Lupercus (the god of fertility), it was not until the Middles Ages that the name "St Valentine's Day" became associated with romantic love and not until the 19th century that the tradition of exchaning 'love notes' appeared. The modern tradition of giving presents to one's lover on Valentine's Day only appeared after WWII in both the West and Japan. In fact, only the Japanese and Koreans restrict gifts to chocolate, and give them to anybody they know, not just their lover. White Day is also a Japanese invention (or at least one made for the Japanese public, as a marketing trick).

    from U.S.A.
    Mother's Day
    If it is true that the USA were the first to establis a national holiday for Mother's Day in 1914 (note that it is not a national holiday in Japan), the origins can be traced back to Ancient Greece. The modern tradition was actually born in England in the 17th century (then called "Mothering Day").

  14. #14
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    The Chinese government defines 56 ethnic groups[...]However, many of these are in fact the same ethnic group genetically.
    M-W: ethnic
    2 a : of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background <ethnic minorities> <ethnic enclaves> b : being a member of an ethnic group c : of, relating to, or characteristic of ethnics

    Ethnicity is obviously open to definition; the 56 ethnicities for China that you mentioned are only a political (communist) qualification. They lumped together which doesn't belong together, they drew lines where there are none. Actually, you can distinguish hundreds of ethnicities in China, even the Han are not one homogenous block.

    Could you give me an example of dynasty ruling most of China (not just a small kingdom) that lasted enough to have some influence on the culture (the topic of this thread) ?
    Why do you need a dynasty to have foreign influence? IIRC, eg. Buddhism grew without being forced upon the Chinese by a foreign dynasty. Except for invasions, when a "foreign" ethnicity achieved rulership, they were already very much sinicised. Which, then again, doesn't mean that on their way to sinicisation they didn't leave their mark on society & culture (albeit regionally).

    Anyhow, if this ethnic group always belonged to historical China, I'd consider them Chinese. Many European countries have not been ethnically pure since the Roman Empire.
    Neither was China ever ethnically "pure."

    So, were they foreign or one ethnic group of China ?
    At the time of the establishment of their states they were foreign.

    It does not mean that the Turks ruled China.
    At least one half-Turk did: Li Yuan Tang

    So to be to the point and relevant, what did Chinese culture inherit from the Turks or other non-Chinese ethnic groups ?
    From the Turks? Honestly, I don't know, but probably (since Turks lived inside China for several centuries, before they finally assimilated) some folk dances, a few words, dishes, costumes aso. Sogdian traders also brought a lot of Western (European) stuff into China.

    Influences of other non-Chinese ethnic groups, apart from what I already wrote about the Turk peoples? Buddhism, Islam, warfare (weaponry & tactics), perhaps (well, probably) influence on literature & arts. Esp. during Tang we have quite a lot of foreign students & scholars in ChangAn, not only being influenced, but also influencing.


    I was not saying that these languages bear any similarity (why would you think that ?).
    Yes, why would I.

    I was just giving very random comparison that if Latin languages in Europe (the big chunk in term of population) were Chinese languages (Mandarin, Wu, Hokkien, Cantonese...), then the relation between Japanese and Chinese is similar to the relation between Latin languages and English, because English comes half from French/Latin and half from Anglo-Saxon/Norse (the same way as Japanese comes half from Chinese and half from the Yamato language, itself possibly a mix of Ainu and Old Korean).
    Since Japanese is a different language family from Chinese, while both Germanic & Romance languages belong to one & the same, the comparison still limps, IMO.

    As for Korean, I compared it to German because German also imported many words from Latin/French, like Korean language imported words from Chinese (although probably Korean imported more words). Another similarity is that the English/Anglo-Saxon left their home region of Northern Germany for a big island next to it, and the Japanese left their home region of Korea for another big island (in fact 3, and Hokkaido became Japanese about at the same time as Ireland became British). In what way is that limping ?
    Ah, you see, this explanation actually makes sense to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    M-W: ethnic
    2 a : of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background <ethnic minorities> <ethnic enclaves> b : being a member of an ethnic group c : of, relating to, or characteristic of ethnics

    Ethnicity is obviously open to definition; the 56 ethnicities for China that you mentioned are only a political (communist) qualification. They lumped together which doesn't belong together, they drew lines where there are none. Actually, you can distinguish hundreds of ethnicities in China, even the Han are not one homogenous block.


    Why do you need a dynasty to have foreign influence? IIRC, eg. Buddhism grew without being forced upon the Chinese by a foreign dynasty. Except for invasions, when a "foreign" ethnicity achieved rulership, they were already very much sinicised. Which, then again, doesn't mean that on their way to sinicisation they didn't leave their mark on society & culture (albeit regionally).


    Neither was China ever ethnically "pure."


    At the time of the establishment of their states they were foreign.


    At least one half-Turk did: Li Yuan Tang


    From the Turks? Honestly, I don't know, but probably (since Turks lived inside China for several centuries, before they finally assimilated) some folk dances, a few words, dishes, costumes aso. Sogdian traders also brought a lot of Western (European) stuff into China.

    Influences of other non-Chinese ethnic groups, apart from what I already wrote about the Turk peoples? Buddhism, Islam, warfare (weaponry & tactics), perhaps (well, probably) influence on literature & arts. Esp. during Tang we have quite a lot of foreign students & scholars in ChangAn, not only being influenced, but also influencing.



    Yes, why would I.


    Since Japanese is a different language family from Chinese, while both Germanic & Romance languages belong to one & the same, the comparison still limps, IMO.


    Ah, you see, this explanation actually makes sense to me.

    Yeah, but chinese came from south east asia.

  16. #16
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by newasian
    Yeah, but chinese came from south east asia.
    Aha, I see very clear now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by newasian
    Yeah, but chinese came from south east asia.
    CORRECTION ....

    Only Chinese ABORIGINAL MINORITIES like Zhuang,Miao,Yao,Dai,plus others CAME FROM South East Asia,not Han Chinese who ARE MAINLY OF NE Asian stock same as Japanese and Koreans migrated through Tibet Kunlun mountains over 6000 years ago.

    Han Chinese dialects belong to Sino-Tibetan language family.

    Those SOUTHERN Chinese aboriginal minorities' languages are in the same Tai-Kadai group.

  18. #18
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiroyuki Nagashima
    There are many things which descended from other than China.

    from Portugal
    Catholicism religion
    Christmas
    GUN
    Tempura
    Sponge cake(KASUTERA)
    Karuta

    Most things are improved for a Japanese

    Huh .... interesting,TEMPURA imported from Portugal !!

  19. #19
    Regular Member Haivart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Chinese, Indian or Arabic cultures are quite "pure" if you ask me.
    No, Indian culture is not "pure" -- whatever that means. Are you referring to the north or the south? Before the Aryan migration, or after? Before Islam, or after? And neither is Arabic, even with the influence of Islam.

  20. #20
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haivart
    No, Indian culture is not "pure" -- whatever that means. Are you referring to the north or the south? Before the Aryan migration, or after? Before Islam, or after? And neither is Arabic, even with the influence of Islam.
    But still "quite" pure (not completely of course). I meant after the Aryan invasion as before that civilisation wasn't really India. It was even purer before the arrival of Islam, but only 12% of India's population is now Muslim, despite the numerous monuments left by former rulers. Anyhow, we can safely say that the Muslim architecture of India is original and "Indian" enough to be different from other Muslim countries. It's not like China, Korea and Japan where it is sometimes hars to tell from a picture from which country is a Buddhist temple.

    For me religion itself is not "culture"; it is the local culture that fashions religion to fit the mindset of the local population. This can several centuries, but eventually one same religion splits in various branches and is practised differently in different culturl areas. That's why "Christianity" does not have the same meaning at all for American and Europeans, and between them, for Catholics, Anglicans, Protestants and Orthodox. One thing unique about India is the number of religion that sprang from its original culture, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and even Sikhism by fusion with Islam. What makes it "pure" or "unique" is that 3 of these 4 religions are almost exclusively found in India (emigrants notwithstanding, of course), and we could also add the Zoroastrian, originally from Persia, but only found in India (and Pakistan and Sri Lanka) nowadays.

    Then, if you have been to India, you know it's a totally different place from almost anywhere else in the world. East Asian and South-East Asian countries share a lot in common, so that while in Japan you sometimes feel like it could be Thailand or China. I have never felt like I was on a different planet in East Asia, while I did in India (and only in India, not even Nepal). Maybe that is because India has resisted "cultural westernisation" more than East Asian countries. It has kept its 5000-yera old class system well alive, while Japan got rid of its 250-year old class system in the late 19th century. No McDonalds, no Italian or Chinese restaurants, almost no clothes, food, cars or other consumer products imported from Western countries... That's in this regard that I saw Indian culture as "purer" than Japan's, or that of most other countries in the world. The only major cultural import from India is cricket, and it has almost died out in its country of origin...

    We could try and make a list of cultural stuff imported by India, but apart from a bit if Islam and Christianity, and cricket (which are really leftovers of invasions and colonisation, rather than "imports"), there isn't much...

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    Are Chinese culture(s) really that 'pure'? What we know as the Han Chineses are actually a complex mix of many different ethic groups, each with their own unique cultures. The Hakkas for instance orginated from the Northen China, currently settled largely in the Southen Guandong province, Fujian, Taiwan, Hong Kong and also many South East Asian countries. They were also said to be genetically more similar/much closer to the Koreans and Japanese compared that any other ethnic groups of China, now all assimulated under a common 'Han' ethnicity. The orginal language which they used to speak were also a lot more similar with Japanese than Chinese (and other dilects) with Japanese. Only comparatively recent were the Hakkas assimulated and accept as 'Han-Chinese'. This goes to show that 'Chinese' culture isn't that homogeneous or 'pure' as some might think, but is composed of a wide range of cultures and ethnics living in China. That's even though a large group of these different people were all lumped up as simply 'Han' Chinese. Kind of 'Borg' like if you'd ask me.

  22. #22
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GablurW
    Are Chinese culture(s) really that 'pure'? What we know as the Han Chineses are actually a complex mix of many different ethic groups, each with their own unique cultures. The Hakkas for instance orginated from the Northen China, currently settled largely in the Southen Guandong province, Fujian, Taiwan, Hong Kong and also many South East Asian countries. They were also said to be genetically more similar/much closer to the Koreans and Japanese compared that any other ethnic groups of China, now all assimulated under a common 'Han' ethnicity.
    So you are saying that Chinese culture isn't so pure because China is not ethnically uniform ? I believe there is such a think as British culture or American culture, yet these countries are even less ethnically "pure". Culture is something that develops over time in a common society (whatever its ethnic composition) and evolves constantly. In China's case, most of the culture developed on the territory of present-day China, even if there were movements of ethnicities within that territory over time. Apart from Buddhism, almost everything we associate with traditional Chinese culture (Taoism, Feng Shui, Confucianism, Chinese zodiacs, festivals, clothes, architecture...) originally comes from China, if I am not mistaken. If 5 or 10% of traditional Chinese culture was imported, in Japan's case it is more like 90%. And interestingly, most of the Japanese imports do not come from Korea (where the population originated), but from China. This shows that ethnicity and culture are not related.

  23. #23
    Resident Realist nice gaijin's Avatar
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    Are we defining "pure" as ethnically or culturally unique and homogenous? I think all this thread has done is show that there is no such thing as a "pure" society. No culture is beyond foreign influences and exchanges, no matter how hard they try. Arguing about which culture borrowed what practice from whom is starting to look like mental masturbation; pointless and frustrating. Are we trying to weigh the value of a culture by how much they have been influenced by their neighbors over the ages? If not, I might be missing the point of this discussion.

    India is still considered to be a developing country. Even if it preserves its ancient customs and traditions, I wouldn't take the fact that you couldn't find a McDonald's to be a sign that it is some sort of romantic stronghold against the encroachment of western influence. Not that I wouldn't mind living in a country without McDonald's; I just don't consider that a gauge of a nation's "purity."

  24. #24
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    Ok...my first contribution : Mochi.
    and personally, i don't think only the culture is influenced by china, the people are originally from China, immigrant.
    BTW, i'm new. Howdy!!
    Last edited by Timey; Jul 13, 2006 at 17:35.
    They say only the good die young. If that works both ways, I'm immortal

  25. #25
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nice gaijin
    Are we defining "pure" as ethnically or culturally unique and homogenous?
    As I said in my previous post, there is little relation between culture and ethnicity, and I started this thread to discuss cultural influence over the centuries, not ethnic homogeneity.

    I think all this thread has done is show that there is no such thing as a "pure" society. No culture is beyond foreign influences and exchanges, no matter how hard they try.
    ...
    India is still considered to be a developing country. Even if it preserves its ancient customs and traditions, I wouldn't take the fact that you couldn't find a McDonald's to be a sign that it is some sort of romantic stronghold against the encroachment of western influence.
    You are missing the point of this thread completely, which is to compare traditional cultures, not modern ones. It is obvious that in today's age of globalisation every country is full of foreign influence. But McDonald's is not and never will be part of the traditional Indian or Japanese culture - that's a fact.

    Arguing about which culture borrowed what practice from whom is starting to look like mental masturbation; pointless and frustrating. Are we trying to weigh the value of a culture by how much they have been influenced by their neighbors over the ages?
    If you don't like it, nobody forced you to post in this thread. I like such discussions.

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