Japanese and Chinese Culture: Comparison and Contrast

The majority of people are convinced that the Japanese and Chinese look the same, and there is a weak chance to differentiate their appearance. Apart from being similar in the context of appearance, their cultures have significant resemblances too. They are united by moderation, hard-working nature, and respect for elderly people. Their languages sound identically for foreigners, as well as the hieroglyphs, which both the Chinese and Japanese use. It may seem that these countries and their specialties cannot be compared to each other, as a person usually cannot mention even five differences between them. However, both these cultures are independent and worth exploring, as they contain a great number of interesting aspects. This way, the purpose of this paper is to contrast the mentalities, worldviews, religion, traditions, habits, and everyday routines of both countries and prove that they are different and appealing in their own way.

Traditions and Customs

The major religions in China are Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism, and Buddhism and Shintoism in Japan. Interestingly, citizens of both countries consider it normal when a person relates to several confessions, and they are tolerant of all religions. Buddhism unites the spiritual message of both cultures, though there are some differences in this respect. From the beginning of Chinese history, there was no dominant religion, and there was no requirement of unconditional devotedness. An individual was capable of choosing several confessions at the same time (China Highlights, n. d.). On the contrary, Shintoism is the national religion of Japan. The Japanese people are convinced that everyone and everything, who or which surrounds them, has spirit, even if it is a stone. In addition, Shintoists believe that in magic, totemism, and fetichism.


Chinese do not bow in case they are willing to greet someone or say goodbye. Chinese bow only if they are determined to show respect during a special ceremony or holiday. In the times of dynasties, whether a guest visited the Imperator, he or she had to bow deeply and touch the floor by the head nine times (China Highlights, n. d.). Other forms of bows and reasons to do it did not exist.

On the contrary, a bow is an integral part of the Japanese everyday routine. Interestingly, Japanese bow during a telephone conversation even without noticing it. Moreover, there is a special classification on the principle of depth and duration. For instance, a greeting bow is 15 degrees, a respectful one is 30 degrees, the most respectful one is 45 degrees, and the deepest one implies touching the floor.

Martial Art

Wushu is Chinese gymnastics, which has united all types of martial arts. The term “kung fu” is frequently used to describe martial arts, too, though Chinese means any kind of activity, from martial arts to cooking, which includes self-perfection. Therefore, kung fu implies self-development and self-improvement from the perspective of the Chinese worldview. As for Japan, the art of killing, namely budo, is the historical base of all martial arts. In the past, ninjas and samurais used to learn budo. The main goal of this kind of martial arts is as fast as the possible and effective counteraction of an opponent. This is the fight without rules, where all the means were useful, and killing, instead of shaking hands, is the complete final. Other kinds of martial arts, which are popular in Japan, are sumo, judo, aikido, karate, and ju-jitsu.


The traditional Chinese dress is called hanfu and involves a selection of clothes, from underwear to a dressing gown with a belt. Both men and women used to wear hanfu, and this garish and luxurious garment demonstrated the magnificence of silk fabrics. After the Manchus invasion in the 17th century, changshan became traditional clothes for men, and cheongsam for women. These types of traditional dressing had been worn for three centuries by the time Mao established the uniform. It is worthy of note that wearing traditional clothes is becoming increasingly popular in China. In general, Chinese costumes are brighter and more extravagant as compared to Japanese options.

Kimono is a traditional Japanese dressing, and hanfu was its base. It is evident that these days, it is not an example of casual clothes. However, every female citizen has some costumes for special occasions, such as holidays, weddings, and prom (Inside Japan, n. d.). Kimono highlights the waist and shoulders, as the ideal Japanese beauty implies minimizing the parts, which are gibbous. Kimono was considered to be traditional clothes at the beginning of the 19th century.


Although the entire world is acquainted with five types of tastes, Chinese cuisine contains even eight ones. Apart from sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and spicy ones, Chinese are capable of distinguishing an aromatic taste, as a dish, which is cooked correctly, has a particular smell. Other ones are bland, which is similar to that tase of rice and bread, and golden, which reminds kumquat. Chinese traditional dishes include Peking Roast Duck, dim sum, roast rice, century eggs, and turtle soup.

Rolls and sushi are well-known worldwide, and they are the primary example of Japanese cuisine. The main delicacy of traditional Japanese food are dishes with raw fish, and rolls and sushi are the most popular option. During the cooking process, fish is not heat-treated in order to maintain its natural taste. In addition, the Japanese enjoy the meals, which consist of a great number of small courses (Inside Japan, n. d.). This way, they are capable of assessing the chief’s mastery and prevent overeating. In the classical option of Japanese aristocrat’s meal, there are from 15 to 20 positions.


The most demanding option in Chine is acupuncture or needle therapy. Specialists of acupuncture suppose that each organ matches a particular zone in the body, which is called a meridian. For instance, if a person has problems with a lever, needle therapy is applied to his or her ears and feet. A body has approximately 700 points, and each of them has its own title and meridian. Using needles, specialists stimulate a person’s energy and relieve the pain in an organ.

As for Japan, the population sticks to shiatsu, which implies pressing a body with hands. Shiatsu appeared in the 40s years of the 20th century when a medical worker Tokujiro Namikoshi noticed that his mother has rheumatoid arthritis, was pressing the painful points and massaging them. Such movements and pressing were beneficial for relieving her pain (Professional Shiatsu School, n. d.). Tokujiro Namikoshi started to explore this issue and developed a treatment methodology, which was based on pressing painful points with fingers. This was the history of appearing shiatsu, which is one of the types of manual therapy.

The Reasons Why the Cultures Are Different

The history and geography of a particular country have a considerable impact on its development. That results in specialties of people, who reside on the territory of a state and pass their traditions. Such a process is characteristic of the Celestial Empire too. China is situated in inland Asia, while Japan locates on the islands of the Yellow Sea. It is a habitual event for Japanese to live in a cramped apartment and incur some natural disasters, such as tsunami, earthquakes, and volcanic erosion. Furthermore, the Celestial Empire has a rich 3-thousand-year history, and during this period, there were several powerful dynasties.

It is also worth mentioning that the Chinese presented the world with significant inventions, such as gunpowder, paper, and tea. The entire world had to respect the interests of China. In the 18-19th century, Mongolia and Tibet obeyed the Empire, and other Asian countries, which are Myanmar, Siam, Vietnam, and Nepal, paid tribute to China (Index Mundi, n. d.). On the contrary, allusions of Japan appeared in 3-5 centuries A.D. (Index Mundi, n. d.). Despite this fact, this country opened its bordered only 150 years ago, and for this reason, it stayed reserved and undiscovered.


In summary, although Chinese and Japanese cultures are highly likely to seem similar at first glance, there are significant differences between them. Both of them have their specialties, which are explained by the specifics of their geography and historical development. It is also worthy to note that the traditions, including food preferences and clothes, are diverse. However, nowadays, people tend to get tangled in differentiating these Asian cultures due to their reservedness and lack of knowledge. Nevertheless, they are worth exploring, as they contain a significant number of exciting aspects.


Chinese Culture (n. d.). China Highlights. Web.

Japanese Culture (n. d.). Inside Japan. Web.

Tokujiro Namikoshi (n. d.). Professional Shiatsu School. Web.

China vs. Japan (n. d.). Index Mundi. Web.

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