Cultural News Update

(Japan, India, & China)


Japan has been inhabited since the Upper Paleolithic period, when the first record was recorded as early as 1st century AD. Japan is known for their fashion, cherry blossoms, and cuisines. Japanese cuisines contain a majority of seafood. Japan's fashion industry is constantly changing and there are multiple trends at one time on the streets of Japan. Japanese culture tends to be set around festivals and ceremonies, such as Aomori Nebuta Festival, the Hadaka Matsuri Festival, Cherry Blossom Festival, and Japanese Tea Ceremony. The Cherry Blossom Festival is a huge part of the Japanese culture and every spring people picnic in the cherry groves, drink tea, and listen to music while appreciating the beauty. The Hadaka Matsuri and Aomori Nebuta festivals are ancient festivities that the Japanese celebrate in a modern form. The Tea Ceremony is also a huge part in Japanese traditions, the ceremony was influenced by Zen Buddhism and is a cultural ritual of preparing and offering tea to guests. The two major religions practiced in Japan are Shinto and Buddhism.

(from Japanese research notes)

Tea Ceremony

Japanese cultural food

Japan's food products mostly consist of rice, noodles (Udon, Soba, and Ramen), seafood (fish, squid, octopus, eel, and shellfish), and soy products. Two unique foods to Japan are sushi and sashimi, both are made of seafood. The Japanese believe that if the food looks presentable then people are more likely to consume the food, so in Japan people create bento lunches for adults and children.
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Japanese Cultural Music

Newly created instruments such as the shamisen, shakuhachi, and koto are used in Japan. The shamisen is similar to a guitar, shakuhachi is a flute made out of bamboo, and a koto is a long wooden instrument consisting of 13 strings. These classical instruments are usually not played live anymore, but the koto is the most familiar and popular of the three. The koto was created around the fifth to third century B.C. in China.
Sakura "Cherry Blossoms";Traditional Music of Japan, Classical Koto Music 日本の伝統音楽

Old Pond

fu-ru-i-ke ya (5)

ka-wa-zu to-bi-ko-mu (7)

mi-zu-no-o-to (5)

The old pond

A frog jumps in

The sound of water

- Basho

The First Cold Shower

ha-tsu shi-gu-re (5)

sa-ru mo ko-mi-no wo (7)

ho-shi-ge na-ri (5)

The first cold shower

Even the monkey seems to want

A little coat of straw


(Haiku style poems have three lines with syllables of 5,7,5.)

Most haikus are about nature, seasons, emotions, love, and sadness.

Hito ni awan

Tsuki no naki yow a


Mune bashiribi ni

Kokoro yake ori

No way to see him

On this moonless night—

I lie awake longing, burning,

Breasts racing fire,

Heart in flames.

- Ono no Komachi

(Tanka poems have 5 lines of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7, which equals 31 syllables.)

Most tankas are similar to haikus and are about nature, seasons, emotions, love, and sadness.

India was civilized 4,500 years ago and according to the All World Gayatri Pariwar organization India is the first and supreme culture in the world. India made advancements in architecture, mathematics, and medicine. The advancement in architecture was the Taj Mahal, advancement in math was the invention of zero, and the medicine advancement was Ayurveda, which is a health tradition that has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years. Ayurveda consists of massaging the body with traditional Ayurvedic oil. India is the second largest populated country with 1.2 billion people. There is no official language in India, but most people write in Devanagari script. Some of the languages spoken in India are Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, and Urdu. Indian religion includes Hinduism, Buddhism, Muslim, Christianity, and Sikh; Hinduism and Buddhism being the most known religions in India. Certain cultural holidays that India celebrate are Republic Day on January 26th, Independence day on August 15th, Mahatma Gandhi's birthday on October 2nd, Holi (spring festival of colors), and Diwali, which is the most important holiday for India. Diwali is a festival of lights that symbolizes the inner light that protects India from spiritual darkness; this festival lasts up to five days.
India was under British rule from 1858-1947. The rule was called the British Raj. The rule over India lasted until 1947 when British Indian Empire was changed into two dominion states, which were Union of India, and Dominion of Pakistan. India now celebrates their independence from Britain on August 15.

Indian Cultural Food

The Moghul Empire influences Indian cuisines. Indian meals consist of wheat, Basmati rice, and pulses, which are dry legumes, or beans. Most Indian cuisines are loaded with spices such as ginger, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, dried hot peppers, and cinnamon. Also, 20 to 40% of India's population is Vegetarian, so the meals are mostly vegetables and fruits. Some vegetables include tamarind, tomatoes, mint, and herbs(cilantro). The people who are not vegatarians mainly eat lamb and chicken. Most Indian foods are eaten with fingers or bread that is used as a utensil. Indian breads include naan and bhatoora.
Simple Veg Biryani recipe - Indian Food Videos


Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal was built in 1632 by Shah Jahan as a tomb for his wife. The Taj Mahal is located south of the Yamuna River. This building is seen as one of the Mughal architectures and also one of India's architecture advancements.
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Indian Cultural Music

Indian music is one of the most well-developed styles of classical music. Hindustani classical music is an Indian tradition. Hindustani started in North India and it was influenced by ancient Hindu , Vedic philosophy, and Persian elements. Carnatic music is the South Indian classical music. One of the most popular styles of Indian music is film music, also known as Bollywood. Indian film industries usually produce about thousands of films a year, mostly musicals. Other forms of Indian cultural music are Fusion music, Folk music, Ghazals, and Shayari.

India's Fashion Industry

Women in India traditionally wear colorful saris made of silk, while the men wear a dhoti, which is an unstitched piece of cloth that is tied around the waist and legs. Men in India may also wear a kurta, a loose shirt that is to the knees and for special occasions they can also wear a Sherwani, that is a long coat that is buttoned up and reaches the knees.
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80% of India are Hindus and there are 900 million Hindus worldwide. Hinduism is the third largest religion. Hinduism is described as varnasramadharma, which means emphasizing the fulfillment of duties appropriate to one's class and stage of life. There is no origin or exact date for when Hinduism was discovered, but the first writing is known to be around 1200 BC. Many Hindus follow Shiva or Vishnu who are seen as the only true God, while other Hindus follow the Self or also known as Atman. Most recognize the Brahman, which is the principle and supreme reality behind all that is. To Hindus, the cow represents life and it is always giving and feeding, so Hindus worship cows.(As seen below)
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Buddhism dates back to 624 BC when Buddha Shakyamuni was born who was the founder of Buddhism. Buddha Shakyamuni's first name was Siddhartha. Buddhism consists of meditation and following the spiritual path to free themselves of negative minds and enjoy peace and happiness. Many Buddhists try to seek enlightenment or Nirvana and in order to do this they believe you need to follow the eight steps to happiness.
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Great Buddha Statue in Bodh Gaya, India
China is the largest populated country with more than 1 billion people. There are 56 minority groups in China, the largest being Han Chinese (900 million). Other minorities include Tibetans, Mongols, Manchus, Naxi, and Hezhen (the smallest group at 2,000). China is ruled by a communist party who is atheist. In China there is only five official religions, which are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. A 1/4 of China practice Taoism, Confucianism, and other religions. Chinese language consists of seven major groups. The languages are Mandarin(71.5%), Wu(8.5%), Yue(5%), Xiang(4.8%), Min(4.1%), Hakka(3.7%), and Gan(2.4%). The national language of China is Putonghua, which is a type of Mandarin. Chinese celebrations include the birthday of Mazu, the Moon Festival, and the birthday of Guanyin. Another birthday that is celebrated is Confucius' and it is celebrated by pilgrimages to the birthplace in Shandong. The largest festival in China is the spring festival that celebrates Lunar New Year for 15 days.


Chinese Cultural Food

Chinese cooking mainly includes Cantonese style, which is stir fry and Szechuan, which is using peanuts, sesame paste, and ginger. Rice is a main source for Chinese meals and is also to be said as a major element in "growing their society". Chinese diets consist of rice, cabbage, sprouts, and scallions. Sometimes the Chinese eat meat such as pork or chicken but they mostly rely on tofu for protein.
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Chinese Cultural Music

Confucius is the philosopher of music and is responsible for creating the tone for traditional Chinese music. In China, music is not seen as entertainment, but as a social thing. According to the Confucius music should be clear and harmonic. Three kinds of Chinese traditional music are Chinese opera, ensemble or orchestra, and solo instrumental performance.

Chinese Fashion Industry

Chinese clothing is more modern now, but costumes use to play a role in the Chinese culture. The features of the costumes are a cross collar, that is tied with a sash and is formed into a long shirt/gown. The costumes are now only worn during festivals and celebrations and only seen in films. Chinese clothes fall back into the Paleolithic time period at about 1.7 million years ago. The material was made out of animal skin and decorations were from animal teeth and stones.
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Taoism is a religion that focuses on living in harmony. Tao is both the source of, and the force behind everything. Taoism emphasizes on three treasures, jing(sperm or ovary energy), qi(energy of thoughts and emotions), and shen(spirit or spiritual power).
Confucianism was taught by Confucius in sixth to fifth century BCE. Confucianism is seen as a religion or philosophy. For more than two millennialist Confucianism has been a part of China's five religions. The main idea behind Confucianism is ten or also known as humaneness meaning you have excellent character with li, Zhongshan, shu, and dial. Confucianism is the faith that ordinary people become worthy and humane.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse


River: The river represents life and the path to enlightenment. The sounds are all living things and shows the flow of those things over a period of time. Eventually the river guides Siddhartha to enlightenment.

("One can learn much from a river.") 49

The Ferryman: Vasudeva is the guide to enlightenment and is the only one able to help Siddhartha reach enlightenment by not telling him what he needs to do, but by showing him the way.

("I have waited for this hour, my friend. Now that it has arrived, let me go. I have been Vasudeva, the Ferryman, for a long time. Now it is over.") 136

Gambling: chance of life.

("He won thousands, he threw thousands away, lost money, lost jewels, lost a country house, won again, lost again.") 79

Suckling from the women's breast: milk from the women is giving Siddhartha life, a new life to reach nirvana and also knowledge.

("Sweet and strong tasted the milk from this breast. It tasted of woman and man, of sun and forest, of animal and flower, of every fruit, of every pleasure.") 48


Motif: recurring, contrasts, or literary devices that can help inform a major theme.

Love: Acceptance of loving something or someone is necessary to reach enlightenment.

Om: Unity of things and peace in one's spirit/mind.

("The whole, the unity; then the great song of a thousand voices consisted of one word: Om-perfection") 136

Govinda: Returns throughout the novel to show Siddhartha's love for his friend and his one step closer to enlightenment.

Opposites: Materialistic/spiritual, body/mind, and love/loneliness.


"When all the Self was conquered and dead, when all passions and desires were silent, then the last must awaken, the innermost of Being that is no longer Self - the great secret!" (11)

- This shows how Siddhartha first thought he had to be in order to achieve enlightenment.

"When all the Self was conquered and dead, when all passions and desires were silent, then the last must awaken, the innermost of Being that is no longer Self - the great secret!" (29)

- Explains to the readers what Siddhartha's goal is.

"Slowly, like moisture entering the dying tree did the world and inertia creep into Siddhartha's soul; it slowly filled his soul, made it heavy, made it tired, sent it to sleep. But on the other hand his senses became more awakened, they learned a great deal, experienced a great deal." (61)

- Letting stuff in can be a good thing and can help you in life rather than slowing you down like Siddhartha once believed.

"That is what Siddhartha learned from the Samanas. ... everyone can reach his goal if he can think, wait, and fast." (50)

- Siddhartha still uses gifts that he acquired from the Samanas.

"Had not his father suffered the same pain that he was now suffering for his son? ... Was it not a comedy, a strange and stupid thing, this repetition, this course of events in a fateful circle?" (107)

- Siddhartha realizes that he did the same thing to his father and that everyone needs to go on their own journey in order to seek their goal.

"yes, I am going into the woods; I am going into the unity of all things, said Vasudeva" (137)

- Shows that Vasudeva has done what he needed to by guiding Siddhartha to enlightenment and he himself has reached enlightenment according to when Vasudeva says he is "going into the unity of all things".

"I attach more importance to things." (146)

- Siddhartha's view has changed since the beginning of the book and he know believes that you cannot reach enlightenment with words and instructions another person tells you, for you need to find your way through materialistic things.