Chinese and Japanese Americans have contributed a great deal to U.S. culture. They are both large ethnic groups with long, histories in the country. Even though the two cultural groups share a lot of characteristics and are frequently confused by outsiders, each has a distinct culture and a unique history of development, integration and change in the United States.
So, let’s take a look at some facts from both cultural groups:
When it comes to historical facts, Chinese immigration is slightly older than Japanese immigration to the United States. Chinese immigration, moreover, has grown or remained constant for most periods since the 19th century, while Japanese immigration peeked in the periods before and after the Second World War. So, not only is the Chinese-American community considerably larger than the Japanese-American population, but it also has a higher number of recent arrivals to the United States. This is the reason why Japanese-American culture, tends to be somewhat better defined and assimilated than Chinese-American cultural practices that change more over time as new and younger arrivals from China come in the community.
- Food and Events
The clearest attributes of immigrant groups in the United States, may actually be food and cultural events – which can be very different between Japanese-American and Chinese-American communities. Both cuisines are well known and available in most major U.S. cities, with a clear difference between the heavily spiced noodles and stews that make up traditional Chinese cuisine and the lighter, more fish-based food, like sushi, traditionally consumed in Japan. Both cultures have different holidays and cultural events as well, like Chinese New Year or the Bon Festival, a traditional Japanese festival dedicated to honoring one's ancestors.
Just like most immigrant groups in the Unites States, Chinese and Japanese Americans have learned English language skills really fast, especially in the case of second-generation immigrants who have grown up mainly in the United States. However, a lot of Japanese and Chinese Americans, have maintained their authentic languages and use them either partially or completely in certain cultural settings. Evidently, when it comes to the spoken language, Chinese and Japanese Americans totally different languages - most Japanese Americans speaking at least some Japanese and Chinese Americans speaking one of the many dialects of Chinese, like Mandarin or Cantonese.
- Religion and Philosophy
China and Japan share several interrelated histories and similar cultural contexts given they are located just across the East China Sea from each other. Still, each nation has developed its own particular culture, a base that Chinese and Japanese immigrants brought with them to the United States and immigrant communities have tried to preserve and adapt ever since.
Japanese culture is mainly influenced by Buddhist and Shinto values, while Chinese culture has been historically shaped by Confucian and Taoist principles, in addition to Buddhism.
Can you tell us some more interesting differences between the two cultures? We would love to hear them in the comments below.