Japanese culture including traditional culture like Geisha, Samurai, Japanese tea ceremony, Japanese gardens, kimonos and Japanese Language. Plus modern culture such as modern Japanese fashion.
Traditional Japanese culture has many roots in traditional Chinese culture, however Japanese culture, even historically differed from Chinese culture. This differentiation of the cultures is due in part to the separation of the two land masses, plus Japan’s periods of enforced isolation from the outside world, further extended the differences between the two cultures. Many times throughout history the first time a particular aspect of culture was imported from China it was of course very Chinese. However within a relatively short period the designs changed to take on a distinctly Japanese style. This can be seen in the designs of Japanese gardens and temples.
It is with some irony then that in modern times that the younger Chinese generations have looked to modern Japanese culture as a source of inspiration, particularly in field of Japanese fashion culture, where the Chinese are inspired by Japanese fashion magazines.
Three Japanese Culture
Some care needs to be taken when referring to Japanese culture as it is nowhere near as homogeneous as it might appear to westerners. First there are at least three distinct population groups within Japan: Ainu, Ryukyuan and the main Japanese (Yamato) population.
The Ainu (アィヌ Aynu) are the indigenous people who occupied Northern Honshu, Hokkaido and some of the islands to the north of Hokkaido. They are genetically different, that is a different race, to the other populations in Japan. The Ainu religion is very different to the main Japanese religions of Buddhism and Shinto. The Ainu worshiped as gods objects in nature including fire, water, wind and thunder. In addition they had animal gods such as bears, foxes, owls and plant gods. The clothing traditionally worn by the Ainu was different to the clothing worn by Japanese at the time when the two people started to come into contact, early 1700s. The same is also the case for their housing, which was constructed of bark and grasses including bamboo. The houses were normally about seven by five metres.
The Ryukyuan people are the indigenous people who occupied the Ryukyu islands, which are essentially the Okinawan islands plus some to the north. While many Ryukyuan still live on these islands, some have spread to other parts of the world. The Ryukyuan people have several sub-groups including: Amamians, Okinawans, Miyakoans, Yaeyamans, and Yonagunians each with their own dialect. How genetically different the Ryukyuan people were from the main Japanese (Yamato) population is difficult to say as there were trade links between Japan, China and Korea along with the corresponding migration. The Ryukyuan people have their own distinct religion, clothing and architecture. However the clothing and architecture was not as distinct from the main Japanese as the Ainu was. The Ryukyuan Kingdom came under the control of the Satsuma Domain of Kyushu when the Satsuma invaded in the early 17th century.