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During my amazing trip to Japan in November video. I hope you enjoy it.China is an
2008, I had the incredible good fortune of extremely large country, and the
staying with Fukiko Yuki Teramachi in her customs and traditions of its people vary
traditional Japanese home, which by geography and ethnicity.
she operates as a guesthouse.
More than 1 billion people live in
Fukiko is a fantastic hostess, who provided China, according to the Asia Society,
me with one of the richest travel experiences representing 56 ethnic minority groups.
Ive ever had.
The largest group is the Han Chinese,
I slept on a futon in a tatami-ed room. She with about 900 million people. Other
cooked me delicious Japanese dishes using groups include the Tibetans, the
fresh produce from her organic Mongols, the Manchus, the Naxi, and
garden, dressed me in one of her beautiful the Hezhen, which is smallest group,
kimonos, arranged an interview with a with fewer than 2,000 people.
meiko (a geisha in training), and took me on a "Significantly, individuals within
walking tour of her village, among many other communities create their own culture,"
things.Every morning before breakfast we
said Cristina De Rossi, an
chanted together to her ancestors. She told
anthropologist at Barnet and Southgate
me the story of her mother's life.
Fukiko's own life has not been easy (for one
College in London. Culture includes
thing, she is a breast cancer survivor). So the religion, food, style, language, marriage,
simplicity with which she lives, and the peace music, morals and many other things
that surround her are even more inspirational. that make up how a group acts and
If you watch the video below, you will hear me interacts. Here is a brief overview of
make a little gasp after she demonstrates how some elements of the Chinese culture.
to open the door to the main room in her ReligionThe Chinese Communist
home. I remember clearly the thought behind
Party that rules the nation is officially
that sharp intake of breath.
atheist, though it is gradually becoming
It was this: if we all paid more attention to the
more tolerant of religions, according to
exquisite beauty of simple tasks, and to doing
simple things in beautiful ways, instead of the Council on Foreign Relations.
being so concerned about having more of this Currently, there are only five official
and more of that, the world would be a much religions. Any religion other than
better place in which to live. Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism
In the few days I was with Fukiko, I made and Protestantism are illegal, even
many gaffs and mistakes. I also learned so though the Chinese constitution states
many things about her, about Japan, about that people are allowed freedom of
myself, and about life.
religion. The gradual tolerance of
Among the lessons were the seven in the
religion has only started to progress in Chaozhou as there is between Italian
the past few decades. and French."
The official national language of China is
About a quarter of the people practice Ptnghu, a type of Mandarin spoken
Taoism and Confucianism and other in the capital Beijing, according to
traditional religions. There are also small the Order of the President of the
numbers of Buddhists, Muslims and People's Republic of China. Many
Christians. Although numerous Chinese are also fluent in English.
Protestant and Catholic ministries have FoodLike other aspects of Chinese
been active in the country since the life, cuisine is heavily influenced by
early 19th century, they have made little geography and ethnic diversity. Among
progress in converting Chinese to these the main styles of Chinese cooking are
religions.LanguageThere are Cantonese, which features stir-fried
seven major groups of dialects of the dishes, and Szechuan, which relies
Chinese language, which each have heavily on use of peanuts, sesame
paste and ginger and is known for its
their own variations, according
spiciness.Rice is not only a major food
to Mount Holyoke College. Mandarin
source in China; it is also a major
dialects are spoken by 71.5 percent of element that helped grow their society,
the population, followed by Wu (8.5 according to "Pathways to Asian
percent), Yue (also called Cantonese; 5 Civilizations: Tracing the Origins
percent), Xiang (4.8 percent), Min (4.1 and Spread of Rice and Rice
percent), Hakka (3.7 percent) and Gan Cultures," an 2011 article in the journal
(2.4 percent). Rice by Dorian Q. Fuller. The Chinese
word for rice is fan, which also means
Chinese dialects are very different, "meal," and it is a staple of their diet, as
according to Jerry Norman, a former are bean sprouts, cabbage and
professor of linguistics at the University scallions. Because they do not consume
of Washington and author of "Chinese a lot of meat occasionally pork or
(Cambridge Language Surveys)" chicken tofu is a main source
of protein for the Chinese.
(Cambridge University Press, 1988).
The ArtsChinese art is greatly
"Chinese is rather more like a language
influenced by the countrys rich spiritual
family than a single language made up
and mystical history. Many sculptures
of a number of regional forms," he and paintings depict spiritual figures of
wrote. "The Chinese dialectal complex is Buddhism, according to
in many ways analogous to the the Metropolitan Museum of
Romance language family in Europe. To Art.Many musical instruments are
take an extreme example, there is integral to Chinese culture, including the
probably as much difference between flute-like xun and the guqin, which is in
the dialects of Peking [Beijing] and the zither family. Eastern-style martial
arts were also developed in China, and
it is the birthplace of kung fu. This the Japanese people since ancient
fighting technique is based on animal times. The age-old Japanese traditions
movements and was created in the mid- and customs which give a unique
character to the lifestyle of the Japanese
1600s, according to Black Belt
people have to be experienced to be
truly appreciated. Some of the unique
Ancient Chinese were avid writers and aspects of Japanese life are mentioned
philosophers especially during here as an introduction to the traditions
the Ming and Qing dynasties and of Japan.
that is reflected in the countrys rich
liturgical history. Japanese Gardens: The original
Customs and Japanese gardens were inspired by
Buddhist and Chinese philosophy and
celebrations later evolved to have their own distinct
The largest festival also called the Japanese identity. The gardens found in
Spring Festival marks the beginning Japanese temples and shrines are
inspired by the Shinto religion and the
of the Lunar New Year. It falls between belief in an ideal state of harmony. The
mid-January and mid-February and is a Japanese attempt to recreate this
time to honor ancestors. During the 15- idealized harmony in their beautifully
designed gardens that include aspects
day celebration, the Chinese do such as water, rocks, gravel, moss and
something every day to welcome the miniature plants or Bonsai. One of the
new year, such as eat rice congee and most famous Zen Rock Gardens in Japan
is the Ryoan-ji Zen Rock Garden in
mustard greens to cleanse the body, Kyoto.
according to the University of
Victoria. The holiday is marked with Japanese Architecture: Traditional
Japanese Architecture has a distinct
fireworks and parades featuring dancers style deeply influenced by Buddhism
dressed as dragons.Many people make and Shintoism. Houses and temples
pilgrimages to Confucius' birthplace in made of wood, placed on stilts to raise
them above the ground, and with
Shandong Province on his birthday, sloping roofs made of thatch or tiles
Sept. 28. The birthday of Guanyin, the create a distinctive silhouette in
goddess of mercy, is observed by traditional Japanese architecture. The
use of lightweight wood and bamboo to
visiting Taoist temples. It falls between
create Fusuma (sliding doors) and straw
late March and late April. Similar or woven grass to create Tatami (mats)
celebrations mark the birthday of Mazu, are other unique features of Japanese
the goddess of the sea (also known as architectural design. People usually sat
on the floor and furniture only came into
Tianhou), in May or June. The Moon widespread use after the late-nineteenth
Festival is celebrated in September or and early twentieth century.
October with fireworks, paper lanterns
Japanese Tea Ceremony: The
and moon gazing. Japanese Japanese ceremony of preparing and
Traditions offering tea to revered guests is a formal
Japan is known for its unique culture and and stylized ritual, almost like a
heritage, which has been preserved by meditative performance. The art or skill
of preparing tea and all the elements of delightful ambience of the blooming
the tea ceremony have special and Cherry flowers. The Cherry Blossom
symbolic meaning. Deeply influenced by festivals at Okinawa and at Matsuyama
Zen Buddhism, the Japanese tea Castle in Ehime prefecture are the best-
ceremony has evolved into a cultural known among many flower festivals
ritual which means much more than the across Japan. The natural beauty of the
mere sampling of powdered green tea, Cherry blossom season is celebrated by
and is a unique part of Japanese the Japanese in their art and music, and
traditions. even in the designs of their traditional
clothing, the Kimono.
Japanese Cuisine: Japan is an island
nation and seafood plays an important Japanese Kimono: The traditional
role in Japanese cuisine. Rice and fish Japanese costume, the Kimono, is a
along with vegetables are eaten by most graceful full-length robe that falls from
Japanese. Tofu or soy bean curd is the wearer's shoulders to the ankles.
another popular and healthy dish often The robe is tied around the middle with
consumed by the Japanese people. a sash called the Obi. Kimonos for
Japanese food such as Sushi (rice special occasions were made of rich
flavored with vinegar and combined with fabric such as silk, satin and brocade
seafood or seaweed and sometimes and feature designs inspired by nature
vegetables) and Sashimi (cut and sliced such as Cherry blossoms, autumn
raw meat, usually seafood) are forms of leaves, butterflies and pine trees.
Japanese cuisine that have become Kimonos are now worn mostly for
famous worldwide. Teppanyaki or food ceremonial occasions and events such
cooked on an iron griddle is another as festivals and marriages.
popular form of Japanese cuisine. Sake
or Japanese rice wine is also drunk at Japanese Painting: Japan has a long
traditional meals as a toast to the health tradition of painting and woodblock
and long life of one's dining printing. Some of the famous Japanese
companions. painters are Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-
1858) who is famous for the Ukiyo-e or
Japanese Festivals: The Japanese woodblock printing style of art. Another
people celebrate many festivals, most of famous Japanese painter is Katsushika
which are of the Buddhist and Shinto Hokusai (1760-1849) who is famous for
religions. Different temples or shrines a series of woodblock prints depicting
across Japan have their own specific Mount Fuji. The best known among
Matsuri or festive holiday. Some festivals these is The Great Wave off Kanagawa.
that began long ago are also celebrated
today in a modern form. These include Japanese Calligraphy: The Japanese
Aomori Nebuta Festival, the Hadaka script consists of characters which were
Matsuri Festival and the Cherry Blossom traditionally painted using smooth
Festivals, which are an integral part of brushstrokes on handmade paper. The
Japanese culture. fine art of calligraphy requires many
years of practice and was considered
Cherry Blossom Festivals: Every year essential learning for an accomplished
in spring the Japanese people take time person in Japanese society.
out to appreciate the beauty of nature
as the Cherry trees burst into full bloom Ikebana: The Japanese cultural practice
and their lovely pink flowers offer a of flower arrangement is a fine art that
wonderfully appealing sight. People encompasses the ideas of aesthetics,
picnic in the Cherry groves, drink tea spirituality, discipline and harmony with
and Sake and enjoy music in the nature. It is believed to have evolved
from the Buddhist practice of offering
flowers in memory of those who have Seafood plays an important role
passed away. The emphasis on in Japanese cuisine. Rice and
minimalism, attention to the line and fish along with vegetables are
form of the plants or flowers used in an
arrangement and the harmony of the eaten by most Japanese.
overall arrangement exemplify this Tofu or soy bean curd is a
Japanese tradition.
popular and healthy dish.

There are many more fascinating Sushi (rice flavored with vinegar
aspects of traditional Japanese culture, and combined with seafood or
such as viewing Mount Fuji, the Samurai Japanese
seaweed and sometimes
Code, Sumo Wrestling and the role of Cuisine:
the Geisha. You can find out more about vegetables) and Sashimi (cut
these uniquely Japanese traditions when and sliced raw meat, usually
you visit this fascinating country.
seafood) are famous Japanese

Japanese Customs and Sake or Japanese rice wine is

Traditions also drunk at traditional meals as

a toast to the health and long life
of one's dining companions.
The gardens found in Japanese
Famous Japanese festivals are
temples and shrines are inspired
Japanese Japanese Aomori Nebuta Festival, the
by the Shinto religion and the
Gardens: Festivals: Hadaka Matsuri Festival and the
belief in an ideal state of
Cherry Blossom Festivals.

Kimono is a traditional Japanese

Traditional Japanese
Japanese costume. It is a graceful full-
Architecture is deeply influenced
Kimono: length robe that falls from the
by Buddhism and Shintoism.
wearer's shoulders to the ankles.
Japanese Earlier, people usually sat on the
Architecture: floor. Furniture only came into Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858)
widespread use after the late- is famous for the Ukiyo-e or
nineteenth and early twentieth woodblock printing style of art.
century. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)
is famous for a series of
The Japanese ceremony of Painting:
woodblock prints depicting
preparing and offering tea to
Mount Fuji. The best known
Japanese Tea revered guests is a formal and
among these is The Great Wave
Ceremony: stylized ritual. The Japanese tea
off Kanagawa.
ceremony is deeply influenced
by Zen Buddhism. Ikebana: Ikebana is the Japanese cultural
practice of flower arrangement
and is believed to have evolved
Culture of the Philippines. The
from the Buddhist practice of Spanish colonized the islands
offering flowers in memory of and after more than three
those who have passed away. centuries of colonization
It is a fine art that encompasses Hispanic influence has heavily
the ideas of aesthetics,
impacted the culture.
spirituality, discipline and
The Philippines being governed
harmony with nature.
from both Mexico and Spain,
had received a fair bit of
Hispanic influence.

Customs and
Mano po Our culture is a big
reflection of our great and
complex history. It is
influenced by most of the
people we have interacted
with. A blend of the Malayo-
Polynesian and Hispanic
culture with the influence from
Chinese, Indians Arabs, and
other Asian cultures really
contribute to the customs and
traditions of the Filipinos.

Filipino culture is unique compared

to other Asian countries, and
beliefs apply every day in the life
of the Filipinos and reveal how rich
and blessed the culture the people
Lets review some of the popular that Filipinos have. The family
Filipino traditions and find the takes care of each other and are
similarities that bind Filipinos to taught to be loyal to family and
each other. elders by simply obeying their
authorities. This is one of the
First on the list is Mano Po. When unique characteristics of Filipinos.
children or young people greet or Having fondness for family
say goodbye to their elders they reunions during secular and
typically do so by taking the right religious holidays such as
hand of the elder with their right Christmas, New Years eve, All
hand and touch the back the Saints Day, Holy Week, Fiestas,
elder's hand lightly on their homecomings, birthdays,
forehead. It is a way of giving weddings, graduations, baptisms,
respect to the elders and I believe funerals etc. is evidence that
that is also a way of receiving Filipino people valued not only our
blessing to the elders. cultural tradition but the spirit of
our family. As Filipinos, we are
Mano is a Spanish word for hand blessed to have been brought up
while Po is used in the end of the with strong family ties.
sentence when addressing elders BayanihanPhoto by B l a c k S w
or superiors. a n Have you ever experienced the
bayanihan in our country? It is the
Next is that Filipinos are one of the spirit of communal unity or effort
most hospitable people you may to achieve a particular objective. A
find anywhere. Foreign visitors in famous example of this is the
the country are treated with the neighbors carrying a hut or house
utmost respect. This trait is to a new location. People
usually seen during fiestas and nowadays use it to describe an
holidays where many Filipinos are outpouring of community spirit-as
giving their best to entertain their people give their all to the
visitors well. common good, without expecting
recognition or personal gain.
It is amazing to see that even the
CourtshipWe Filipinos are very
simplest home along the road
romantic when it comes to heart
opens their home to a stranger.
affairs. Serenading or Harana in
For Filipinos, to be able to serve
Tagalog is one of the most popular
others gives them honor of
forms of courtship to show that a
showing true friendship. Filipino
man is very serious with his
Hospitality is a trait you can't take
intentions to a woman. A serenade
away from them.
would require the young man to
Having Close Family Ties is also sing a love song in front of the
one of their unique traits. It is one young lady's house. Normally, he
of the outstanding cultural values is accompanied by his male
friends who act as back-up a person refrain from doing
singers. The man himself or his something in particular.
friend played the instrument,
usually a guitar, which provides These beliefs are part of our
the background music to his culture, for one derives their
song.They would have to wait until beliefs from the influences of what
the young lady opened a window their customs, traditions and
to listen. It would be up to her if culture have dictated to explain
she wanted to invite them in for certain phenomena or to scare
some refreshment and to chat people. Some are practiced
after the song. Even if they had primarily because Filipinos believe
been asked to come in, the suitor that there is nothing to lose if they
would not expect that he could will comply with these beliefs.
have the chance of a private CuisineThe Philippines is
moment with his object of considered the melting pot of Asia.
affection. It was highly likely that The rich medley of Chinese, Malay,
the parents would also be there to Spanish, Mexican, American, and
entertain the man and his Indian cooking are noticed in
friends.ReligionThe Philippines is Philippine cuisine. Eating out is
one of two predominantly Roman one of the favorite Filipino
Catholic nations in Asia-Pacific. pasttimes. A typical Pinoy diet
Their habit of going to church and consists at most of six meals a
often praying reflects that Filipinos day; breakfast, snacks, lunch,
have a deep faith and belief when snacks, dinner, and again a
it comes to religion. They are very midnight snack before going to
devoted to religions that sleep. Rice is a staple in the
sometimes many take the risk of Filipino diet, and is usually eaten
their lives just to touch the Black together with other dishes.
Nazarine (in Quiapo Manila). For Filipinos regularly use spoons
many, it is just a choice between together with forks and knives.
their faith and fears. Some also eat with their hands,
especially in informal settings, and
Filipinos believe that having a when eating seafood.
strong devotion may lead to a Other popular dishes brought from
better life and their guidance to Spanish and Southeast Asian
face everyday life. influences include afritada, asado,
SuperstitionIn the Philippines, chorizo, empanadas, mani
superstitious beliefs have grown (roasted peanuts), paksiw (fishor
throughout the country. These pork, cooked in vinegar and water
beliefs have come from the with some spices like garlic and
different sayings and beliefs of our pepper), pan de sal (bread rolls),
ancestors that aim to prevent pescado frito (fried or grilled fish),
danger from happening or to make sisig, torta(omelette), kare-kare
(ox-tail stew), kilawen, pinakbet Customs Ph In the country,
(vegetable stew), pinapaitan, and marriage is a sacred union of man
sinigang (tamarind soup with a and women after a period of
variety of pork, fish, or prawns). courtship and engagement. It is a
Some delicacies eaten by some sacrament between two people
Filipinos may seem unappetizing who love each others. For many
to the Western palate include Filipinos, the eternal quality of
balut (boiled egg with a fertilized dedication to God pervades a truly
duckling inside), longanisa (sweet sacred marriage.A sacred
sausage), and dinuguan (soup marriage is a covenant between
made from pork blood).Popular two who love each other in God
snacks and desserts such as and with God, whose joining
chicharon (deep fried pork or becomes an expression of the
chicken skin), halo-halo (crushed desire of each to love and serve
ice with evaporated milk, flan, and God together.
sliced tropical fruit),puto (white DeathDeath in the Philippines is
rice cakes), bibingka (rice cake one of the most important
with butter or margarine and occasions in family life. For many
salted eggs), ensaymada (sweet Filipinos, a death of relatives is an
roll with grated cheese on top), opportunity to strengthen ties in
polvoron (powder candy), and the Family. To pay respect and
tsokolate (chocolate) are usually honor the relationship to the
eaten outside the three main deceased, long lost relatives,
meals. Popular Philippine friends, and even relatives
beverages include San Miguel working abroad are reunited.The
Beer, Tanduay Rhum,coconut Philippines is the home of some
arrack, and tuba.Every province unique death rituals that are partly
has its own specialty and tastes religious and mostly superstitious.
vary in each region. In Bicol, for The mourning and the weeping are
example, foods are generally still present, but a happy and
spicier than elsewhere in the welcoming atmosphere would
Philippines. Patis, suka, toyo, usually envelop the place to help
bagoong, and banana catsup are the deceased on his journey to the
the most common condiments afterlife.After the death of a
found in Filipino homes and person, a nine-day period of
restaurants. Western fast food having a novena of prayers and
chains such asMcDonald's, Masses offered up to the deceased
Wendy's, KFC, and Pizza Hut are a is held, although the beginning of
common sight in the country.A the "Siyam na araw" varies, but
roasted pig known as the Lechn, usually ends the week after the
is one of the Philippines most death. Another period follows after
popular dishes. death, the 40-day mourning
Marriage and Wedding period. Family members indicate
their state of bereavement by Feast of the Santo Nio de Ceb
wearing a small, black rectangular on the third Sunday of January.In
plastic pin on their left breast or ones article, Archbishop Cruz told
breast pocket area. A ceremonial in his Christmas message that "the
mass is held at the end of this 40- essence of Christmas is God made
day period. Common belief states flesh, God who has come among
that the soul goes to Heaven after us" in an act of love "that joins
these 40 days, following the belief humankind to the Living God
that Jesus Christ ascended to through our Lord Jesus Christ".
Heaven after the said period of For many Filipinos, the true
days. essence of Christmas for is not gift
SocietyThe primary ancestors of giving but sharing this special holy
Filipinos are Malays who came day with family.FiestasEvery town
from the southeastern Asian and city in the Philippines has a
country which is now called fiesta of its own; whatever time of
Indonesia. The Philippines is a the year it is, there's sure to be a
combined society, both singular fiesta going on somewhere.Fiestas
and plural in form. It is singular as in the Philippines are held to
one nation, but plural in that it is celebrate a patron saint. It is part
fragmented geographically and and parcel of Filipino culture
culturally. The nation is divided through good times and bad
between Christians, Muslims, and times, it must go on. The biggest
other religious-ethno-linguistic and most elaborate festival of all
groups; between urban and rural is Christmas, a season celebrated
people; between upland and with all the pomp and pageantry
lowland people; and between the where the whole country breaks
rich and the poor. Although out in celebrations that can begin
different in numerous ways, the long before December.For
Filipinos are very hospitable and individual Filipinos, fiestas can be
give appropriate respect to a way of supplicating the heavens
everybody regardless of race, or to make amends for past
culture and belief. wrongs. It is a way to celebrate
Christmas in the Philippines their blessings, commemorate
Christmas in the Philippines is their past and observe solemn
considered as one of the biggest religious rituals. Celebrations may
holidays in the archipelago. We take the form of music, dancing,
earned the distinction of feasting, beauty contests, balls,
celebrating the worlds longest processions, sports challenges or a
Christmas season with Christmas host of other events.Spanish
carols heard as early as influence is evident in the
September and lasting until elaborate masks, makeup,
Epiphany, the feast of the Black headdresses and costumes worn
Nazarene on January 9 or the by the revelers; outfits which often
take months of preparation. to the food instead of using
Living with ParentsFilipinos utensils. Gather a small portion of
highly value the presence of meat or fish and a bite-sized
family more than anything. Adult portion of rice on your plate. Then
children living with their parents use all your fingers to gather the
are another Filipino traditional that food into a small mountain or
make them exceptional. Unlike in mound. Pick up the little mound
the United States where children and put it in your mouth using
leave the home after finishing high your thumb to gently push the
school or college, many Filipinos food in.Filipinos usually eat rice
continue living with parents until that has a slightly sticky
they get married. consistency so making the little
Eating with a Fork and mounds is easier than if you were
SpoonOne Filipinos identity is that to use a jasmine or basmati rice.
they are eat using a fork and a Of course, this method of eating
spoon. The fork is place in the left doesn't work with soup/stew or
hand while the spoon is in the noodles and other kinds of food
right hand. Fork is used to place or but for your basic plate of rice,
push the food into the spoon meat/fish and vegetables it works
which is held by the right hand. quite well! Next time you make
Since rice is the main staple of the dinner try eating kamayan.
Filipinos at almost every meal, the Balikbayan BoxesSome Filipinos
fork and spoon method is ideal. It leave the Philippines to live and
is believe that the use of a spoon work abroad. A balikbayan box is a
and a fork is perfect for the way box of items sent by the
Southeast Asians prepare and balikbayan to their family in the
cook their food. Unlike the Philippines. The box can be sent or
Americans who like their meats it can be brought by the sender
and other food items in big slabs when they themselves return to
and humongous chunks, the Philippines. Balikbayan boxes
Southeast Asians generally come in all different sizes and
prepare their dishes in bite-sized dimensions from bulilit (small) to
pieces -- chopped, minced or extra large. It can be filled with
ground -- thus leaving no real almost anything but it is usually
need for a knife. filled with items that cannot be
found in the Philippines or items
Eating with Hands (Kamayan) that may be too expensive for the
average person to buy in the
In addition to the use of the fork Philippines. Common items found
and spoon, eating with your hands in balikbayan boxes include:
or kamayan is another common clothes, shoes, chocolate, nuts,
Filipino tradition. For many vitamins, basketballs, coffee and
Filipinos, kamayan gives full taste tea, magazines,
shampoo/conditioner, soap, body
lotion, etc.