To an untrained eye, the Japanese and the Chinese culture may look very similar because of the physical similarities, the closeness of their alphabets, etc. But both the oriental customs differ greatly from each other in many aspects.
We will discuss some of the significant differences between the Chinese and Japanese in this article.
The Indian and the Chinese civilisation are some of the oldest in the world and thus have vastly influenced the neighbouring countries. The Chinese strongly influenced the Japanese culture. But the Japanese traditions evolved in a different way as the society assimilated the practices and gave it their own twists and interpretations.
When observed closely, we can see both the cultures are strongly rooted around the family and have a typical patriarchal system. Confucianism and Buddhism are part of life and are celebrated more as a culture than as a religion.
Now let us look at the differences.
Owing to the vastness of their land, the Chinese culture has a myriad number of subcultures, food habits, traditions and clothing styles and is a heterogenic society. On the other hand, Japan is a small multi-island nation and underwent a long period of isolationism. So their traditions and customs are uniform throughout the nation and the society is homogenous in nature.
After the Second World War, Japan underwent massive industrialisation and became open to the western influences. Meanwhile, China went under the communist rule and was largely isolated from the rest of the world, except for trade.
Japan has a unifying figure like the Emperor. Although his role is ceremonial, the Japanese population still respects and loves their Emperor. The Chinese don’t have such a unifying figure as they follow the communist party rule.
The Japanese place a lot of emphasis on having a harmonious society. They go to great lengths to make people around them comfortable. Their politeness is a standard for the rest of the world to follow and they take great pride in keeping their entire country clean. The culture brings these qualities out in people. Even when Japanese tourists go out of the country, they are well behaved, clean after themselves and are respectful of others.
In contrast, the Chinese population does not have such a discipline in life. They are used to following the commandments of the communist party even in everyday life. So an authority is in control. When the Chinese tourists visit other countries, they create a lot of disturbance. They are known for their argumentative nature, inconsiderate behaviour and have a penchant to break the rules. Owing to a lifelong adherence to strict government control, they exhibit a different personality when they get out of China.
Food wise, Chinese preparations tend to be spicy and involve a lot of cooking and frying.
The Japanese cuisine has fewer spices but has more subtle flavours. The Japanese have access to high standards of living, similar to western countries. China is closer to a developing country in its standards of living. The gap between the rich and not so rich is very high.
Japan has stayed true to its ancient idea of Zen and simplicity while the Chinese are trying hard to compete with the west in materialism.