Asian History Although the Great Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Some cultural traditions exist in complete isolation from neighboring regions. For instance, Korea and China do not have the well-developed geisha role for women or the Samurai class of warriors. Japan's indigenous Shinto religion is not practiced on the Korean peninsula or in China. Taoism, an indigenous Chinese philosophical tradition, did not take root in Korea or Japan.

Geography is a factor in why Korea, Japan, and China have evolved different cultures. For one, China's large land borders with surrounding regions have made it more open to the influences of Central Asian, West Asian, Indian, Tibetan, and Mongolian societies, to name a few. China, as a result, is far more ethnically diverse -- as well as linguistically and culturally diverse -- than are Korea or Japan. This was true as much before the Mongol invasion as after. However, the Mongol invasion did affect Korea, China, and Japan and helped to usher in the modern era.

Japan's island status renders it less permeable to outside influences and more able to retain cultural integrity and isolation, whereas Korea has the potential to be influenced by both Japan and China. Some of the more superficial elements these three cultures share in common are those that evolved later and during the modern age. Those elements include a dynastic tradition and feudalistic societies. Hearkening again to the analogy with Europe, most European cultures also exhibited a feudalistic stage and had kingdoms but it would be erroneous to group all European cultures together without acknowledging the distinctions between them.

Pre-modern art differs somewhat among these three cultures. However, the art of Korea, China, and Japan is often taken out of the cultural context in which it was born. Buddhist art, for example, is generally viewed as art by outsiders and as religious relics by insiders. Other distinctions between China, Korea, and Japan that had already begun to manifest before modern times include elements of daily life such as cuisine. The cuisine of these three regions differs significantly. There is no real parallel anywhere in the world for the Korean fermented cabbage dish called kimchi, just as Japan has elevated the consumption of raw fish to an art form called sushi. Chinese cuisine has permeated Japanese and Korean cooking, especially with the introduction of different types of noodles. Yet the noodle dishes of Korea, China, and Japan would never be mistaken for one another.

Just as European cultures can be grouped loosely together, so too can the cultures of East Asia. However, such amalgamation glosses over the important differences evident between China, Korea, and Japan. It is more fruitful to highlight both differences and similarities in order to honor the unique cultural expressions of a region.


"Hidden Korea." PBS. Retrieved online:

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