By: Aprilia Puspitaningrum
Mentor: Joni Rollis
Separated by East China Sea, Japan and China are countries that located in East Asia, along with another country like Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. In the past, societies in East Asia had been part of Chinese Cultural Sphere. So, the culture of Japan had been strongly influenced by China. That’s why there’re some similarities between Japan and China, such as their written languages (character) and their mannerism.
Some people still confuse if someone asked them about the difference between Japan and China, including myself. If we just see them from the outside, maybe we can’t tell the difference. But, if we look deeper, we can see that there’re some big difference between Japan and China.
First, the languages. Kanji is Japanese Character that was adopted from Hanzi, Chinese Character, itself. It was introduced by Chinese noblesse thousand years ago to Japanese (Halpern, 2001). However, even though they look similar, they have different pronunciation and meaning. Almost 30% of Kanji has different meaning, such as 手紙 read “tegami” in Japanese which means paper and “shouzhi” in Chinese which means toilet paper (theydiffer.com).
Another difference is their writing systems. Japan has three writing systems; Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana, meanwhile China only uses Hanzi (theydiffer.com). As mentioned before, Kanji is adopted from Hanzi. However, because Kanji is too difficult, it was simplified into hiragana and katakana (Nishizawa, 2016).
Second, mannerism. Japan and China have different mannerism when act in public place. It’s common talking loudly in public place in China, meanwhile people even silent their phone in Japan. Another example is when eating in restaurant, it’s okay to make sound or slurping in Japan, because it’s regarded as compliment, but people will look at you with weird look if you make noise when eating in China (theydiffer.com).
There’re also different mannerism when entering a house and when sitting. Meanwhile Chinese are usually don’t open their shoes when entering house, Japanese will open their shoes at genkan (entrance area) and change it with uwabaki (indoor slippers). Even in school, the student will put their shoes in shelf and use uwabaki to enter the class. When sitting, Japanese are often sitting in the floor, on the cushions. On the contrary, Chinese prefer sitting on the chair. The difference is believed because of Mongols who introduced chair to china hundred years ago, never conquered Japan. Chair was used by noblemen to show their higher status in China. Now, it’s become common to Chinese to sit on the chair compared than sit on the floor like Japanese (factanddetails.com)
Both in Japan and China there’s a custom to bowing to show respect. However, Chinese don’t bow as often as Japanese. They only bow at ceremony or to show respect to the deceased. Now, most of Chinese are used to shaking hands than bowing when greeting someone (factanddetails.com). On the Contrary in Japan, Japanese bow when greeting someone, thanking, apologizing, congratulating, starting class, meeting, or ceremony, asking someone, and worshipping someone or something. There’re several types of bow in Japan, 15° to greet a friend or co-worker, 30° to show respect when interacting with someone who has higher position, and 45° to show deeply regret or respect (www.tofugu.com). Meanwhile, there isn’t in China.
Third, food. There’re three points differences between Chinese food and Japanese food. Chinese food is mainly using pan-fried method, so their food is often oilier, while many foods in Japan used grilled method or they just serving it raw. Based on the viands, Chinese are prefer using meat, like peking duck, dim sum, while Japanese are prefer using seafood, like sashimi. When serving, Chinese usually put different types of food in one plate, while Japanese served different types of food in another small plate (theydiffer.com).
Fourth, the names. The difference from Chinese name and Japanese name is the syllable. Chinese name is monosyllabic–a word that only has one syllable, meanwhile Japanese name is polysyllabic—a word that has more than one syllable (theydiffer.com). Example for Chinese name is Zhang Wei that only has one syllable for surname Zhang and for the personal name Wei. Example for Japanese name is Nakagawa Haruka that has four syllables for the surname Na-ka-ga-wa, and has three syllables for the personal name, Ha-ru-ka.
Five, religion. The difference is the religion that widely practiced in Japan and China. Buddhism is the main religion in China that about 185 million people practiced this religion. Another major religion in China is Taoism, Confucianism, Islam, and Christian. On the other hand, Shinto, the indigenous faith of the Japanese people and as old as Japan itself, is a largely practiced religion in Japan. Shinto is deeply rooted in the Japanese people and traditions. Despite the difference about main religion they practiced, they have a similarity in practice of religion that they still combining their practiced religion and tradition (www.religionfacts.com).
Six, traditional clothes. Japan and China have their own traditional clothes that widely-known. Traditional clothes in Japan called Kimono which has a long, loose robe with wide sleeve and tied with a sash. Nowadays, Japanese are rarely use Kimono and only used it when attending specific event such as weddings, tea ceremonies, or summer festival (web-japan.org). Meanwhile, traditional clothes in China called Qipao, more well-known as Cheongsam, which has high neck, short sleeves and a slit skirt. Now, it is only used during wedding or party (www.thoughtco.com).
In conclusion, even though Japan has influenced by China, there’re still some big differences between them, such as their languages that has different pronunciation and meaning, they show mannerism in their own way, food that has different ingredients and way to serve, name that has different syllable, they have different main religion, and each of them have their unique traditional clothes. Despite that, Japan and China are great country which has their own uniqueness.
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“Difference between Chinese and Japanese Food.” theydiffer.com. 11 September 2017
“Chinese Customs, Manners and Etiquette.” factsanddetails.com. 12 September 2017
“Japanese Home, Eating and Drinking Customs.” factsanddetails.com. 12 September 2017
Halpern, Jack. “Kanji Dictionary Publishing Society.” www.kanji.org. 20 Juli 2001. 16 September 2017
Nishizawa, Amelie. “Hiragana and Katakana Origins.” cotoacademy.com. 02 Februari 2016. 16 September 2017
“Japan.” Religionfacts.com. 17 Maret 2017. 20 September 2017
“Chinese religious rituals and practices.” Religionfacts.com. 18 November 2016. 20 September 2017
Mack, Lauren. “What is a Qipao in Chinese Fashion?” www.thoughco.com. 31 Juli 2017. 16 September 2017.
“History of Kimonos.” web-japan.org. 16 September 2017.
Suzuki, Mami. “Bowing in Japan.” www.tofugu.com. 23 Oktober 2015. 20 September 2017.