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Chinese and Japanese traditions

Like other Asian theatrical traditions, almost every element of jingxi,

including makeup, is rigidly controlled by convention. Actors playing the roles
of men and old women wear simple makeup. All actors playing male roles,
except those of young heroes, wear beards. For female roles other than old
women, an actors face is painted white with the area immediately around
the eyes coloured a deep red that shades into pink. Actors playing
unbearded male roles wear a white base, but the contrasting colour around
the eyes is less pronounced. The makeup for the so-called painted-face roles
is the most spectacular. It uses brilliantly coloured, elaborately patterned
designs that are symbolic of the specific role the actor is playing. While white
patches around the eyes are a common feature of all comic roles in jingxi,
primarily black patterns are used to identify the specific type of each clown.
Japanese Noh and Kabuki theatres offer different visual treatments of the
actors face. In Noh the characters, typically played by mature men,
wear masks rather than makeup. These masks, which generally portray
either a neutral or a very strong emotion, depict stock character types found
in ... (200 of 16,873 words)
"Heritage" is defined as the customs and traditions that are handed down
from generation to generation of families and society. A person with Asian
heritage is someone whose family originates from Asia. Let's check out
some Asian traditions.
Asian Holidays
Chinese New Year
Despite the name, Chinese New Year is actually celebrated in a lot of
countries. The 2004 Chinese New Year is the Year of the Monkey and is
celebrated on January 22nd. It celebrates the first day of the Chinese Lunar
Calendar and is the most important yearly festival for the Chinese. Each
year is named after one of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
Ching Ming Festival
This Chinese holiday, celebrated on April 5th, is the Ching Ming Festival (aka
Qingming Festival.) Ching, in Chinese, means pure or clean and Ming means
brightness. Most people call this holiday grave-sweeping day because
people head to the cemetery to clean graves.
Holi is a spring festival that is celebrated throughout India. For two days,
people party it by dropping powdered colors from the rooftops, drench
each other with balloons filled with colored water and have huge feasts. This
festival is held to celebrate the defeat of the mythical creature, Holika.

Holi starts off with a big bonfire to help clear the leaves and twigs of
the autumn that has just past.
Asian Traditions and Culture

Buddhism: While there are as as many religions in Asia as there are

anywhere else, Buddhism is one of the predominant ones. Buddhism was
established in northern India about 2500 years ago in response to the life
and teachings of Gautama Siddhartha who was given the title "Buddha" or

Dim Sum: A traditional Chinese meal that consists of lots of small

dishes of a bunch of different kinds of foods, including steamed or fried

Tea: Tea plays a major role in Asian culture - whether it's in China,
India or Malaysia - tea ceremonies, in their various forms, are a major
part of most Asian cultures.

Origami: Origami is the art of folding paper. While it is quite popular

in Japan, it is believed to have originated in China in the first century
AD. One of the most popular origami shapes is the crane. The crane is
thought to be a sacred animal in Japan and legend has it that if you
fold 1,000 paper cranes, your wish will come true.

Chinese and Japanese traditions

Japan Home

Many Japanese traditions stem from their deep roots in religions. Two main religions dominate the
Japanese culture: Buddhism and Shintoism.

Buddhism was brought to Japan from China in the early 6 th century

and was established as a national religion by Prince Shotoku. The
Japanese were attracted to Buddhism because it carried with it the
ideas of a unified nation and equality among people. It began to
help Japan work towards an altruistic society and presented a
unified state rather than individual uji or clans. Health and
protection were concrete benefits of Buddhism that were greatly
appealing to the Japanese.

Buddhist practices and beliefs in Japan stemmed from practices in China and were very similar to
those in China. Buddhist teachings came from the Sutras and from the Vinayarules for monastic
life. The Buddhacharita or Acts of the Buddha is a mix of historical information and religious
instruction that helped structure the religions beliefs.

Four Noble Truths (Content of the first sermon of the Buddha)

Life is full of sorrow because it is inevitably associated with sickness, old age, and death.
Sorrow is due to cravinghappy moments are always fleeting and you can never rely on



Sorrow can only be stopped by ceasing craving.

Ceasing craving can only be done by the eight-fold path that leads out of suffering.
The Five Precepts (The simplest form of Buddhist morality that was intended for the leifolk,
not monks and nuns.)
No killing
No stealing
No lying
No sexual misconduct
No use of intoxicants


Japanese culture, while on the cutting edge, is

also a very primitive culture that we learn about
through archeological sources, written sources,
Chinese, and contemporary practices. What is
known about Shinto beliefs has been learned
through todays practices.

Shintoism believes in kami or spirits that are anything out of the ordinary or awe-inspiring. There are
four types of kami in Japanese society:
Nature Kami (sun goddess and the star goddess) are the most common.
Kami that protect the uji
Hero kami (great marshal men, scholars, and poets
Kami of locales (areas that kami presided over)
According to Shinto beliefs, when bad things happen they are due to unhappy kami and so they use
rituals to appease the kami. These rituals have four components:
Purification- before one can approach the sacred a cleansing process must be completed
Offerings- gifts for the kami such as cloth, water, food, and dance are expected at a ritual
Prayer- the recital of magic, certain words and sounds that are repeated again and again
Sacred Meal- a communal meal is eaten after the ritual is performed to promote health and
*The above information on religion was gathered through a series of lectures by Professor Paul
Watt at DePauw University.
Japanese Tea Ceremony

The Japanese Tea Ceremony is a cultural

tradition that originated in China. The tea was
considered medicine that promoted physical and
spiritual health and was consumed for enjoyment
purposes primarily. The spiritual aspect involves
harmony between the persons participating in the
ceremony, respect for those involved in the
ceremony, and purity. These three aspects bring
tranquility to those who participate in the tradition.

The Ceremony:

Before the ceremony begins the host cleans the

serving bowls, boils water, prepares a sweet treat
for the guests, and then mixes the tea.

The tea is a bitter green tea called Matcha and when mixed with water it creates a warm bitter
taste. The combination of the bitter and sweet compliment each other and are a sign of
Proper Behavior
a. When you recieve your chawan--cup of tea--you should bow.
b. Take the tea with your right hand and place it in the palm of your left hand
c. Turn the chawan clockwise three times before you take a drink
d. When the tea is gone, make a loud slurp to show the host that the tea was truly enjoyed
e. Wipe the part of the chawan your lips touched with your right hand
f. Turn the chawan counterclockwise and return it to the host
The above tea ceremony information was gathered and
Japanese Theater
Noh Drama

Noh drama is rigidly traditional Japanese drama

which in it's present form dates back to the early
14th century. Noh plays are short dramas
combining music, dance, and lyrics, with a highly
stylized ritualistic presentation.

Kabuki Drama
Kabuki drama combined elements of no drama and folk theater. Dance was the basis of
performances and the musical dance dramas that developed revolved around stories that were
romantic and often erotic performed by women. It was then decided that they were too erotic
to be performed by women and mens troupes were formed to impersonate the women and do
the performances.
These small exerps on Japanese Theater were taken from Professor Steve Timm's History of
Theater class at DePauw University.
For more information on Japanese Theater please visit: and select

The following information on Japanese Holidays was gathered from Griffin and Shurgin's The
Folklore of World Holidays
The Japanese New Year Celebration (January 1-15)
In Japan, the celebration of the New Year is the most significant and important holiday. During this
time they begin the New Year with a clean slate, spend time with family and friends and prepare for
the events of the New Year.
In preparation for the New Year the Japanese clean their houses thoroughly, discard of any
items that are not needed any more and pay all outstanding debts so that they are able to start

the New Year anew.

- Repairs to the house are made
- Old items in need of replacement are replaced
- When the cleaning is finished members of the household take a hot bath to finish the
cleansing process

After the cleaning, houses are decorated with

straw ropes and pine bough that is burned in a
ceremonial bonfire at the end of the New Years

For the first three days of the New Year businesses are closed and the time is used to visit
family and friends.
The first day of the New Year is a day to give thanks for the events of the past and pray for the
The arrival is announced to the country by all of the bells of the Buddhist temples.
The second day is a ritual commencement to the arts and crafts of ones favorite pursuit.
Another ritual of the New Year revolves around the dream of the second night of the year (it is
not the dream of the first night because that night is too filled with spirits). The desired dream is
of a boat bringing wealth to ones family.
This is also the time in Japan where cards are sent to family members and friends, sharing with
them stories of the past year and wishing them the best in the New Year.
Coming of Age DayJanuary 15
In keeping with a time honored tradition, the Japanese have a ceremony for every young person
who turns 20 over the year. The heads of local government give ceremonial speeches to celebrate
and commemorate the occasion. The holiday was created in 1948 because at the age of 20 in
Japan young people receive the right to vote, drink, and smoke but they are also considered adults
and must uphold the responsibilities of an adult.
Shunbun no Hi/ Higan no Chu-Nichi (Vernal Equinox Day and Autumnal Equinox)

The celebration of the equinoxes has its origin in

a celebration of the changing of the seasons
which reflects the agricultural nature of Japanese
society. On these two days many Japanese
families visit the tombs of deceased family
members and pay their respects. They weed the
tombs and place fresh flowers at the grave sites.

Christmas Celebrations
Since World War II about half of the households in Japan have begun to celebrate Christmas
The Japanese traditionally celebrate with a Christmas cake called a decoration cake. The cake
is made by bakeries and ordered very far in advance of the Christmas holiday.
Santa Claus is a figure in their Christmas traditions and is called Grandfather Santa Claus
Japanese children hang their stockings to be filled by Santa Claus by the bathtub because
believe they that Santa Claus comes down the pipes.
Decoration and Celebration:
In decorating their homes the Japanese generally have sparsely decorated trees that do not
serve as a center of attention during the season.
The parties at Christmas time differ from other parties in the masculine dominated society
because women are allowed to come and revel with the men. Christmas is seen as a more
democratic holiday because it is geared towards both sexes and not of religious origins.
While Christmas is celebrated by many Japanese families it is viewed more as a time to give
and receive presents rather than a religious holiday because so few Japanese families are

Japanese folklore gives glimpses of morals, lifestyles and values in Japan. Below are links to a few
sites on Japanese folktales

Chinese Traditions
Living in China, you soon learn that Chinese traditions play an integral role in
everyday life for every person. It is at the very core of Chinese culture and
revolves around values and how people interact with each other, gives a
sense of personal identity and sense of self worth. These traditional values
help people solve common human problems for survival and become the
roots of tradition that Chinese people find important in their day-to-day lives.
Values for one society may seem strange to another society, but
nonetheless, they are important to that society. For instance, the painful and
debilitating Chinese tradition of foot binding, as bizarre as it may seem to our
culture, to the Chinese people, it was the esoteric essence of pure beauty

and signified status within the family structure, allowing young women with
lotus feet better opportunities for marriage with well-to-do families.
Traditional Chinese courtyard life, in existence until the early 1900s, was a
unique lifestyle where Chinese families and neighbours lived in very close
quarters sharing a common courtyard and everyone knowing everyone
elses business. Special rules applied for who occupied which space in certain
directions. Read more about it by clicking the link above.
Chinese Chopsticks, born of necessity in the earliest times, highly influenced
the eating and cooking traditions still followed today in China. Click on the
link above to learn more about the history of Chinese chopsticks.

Have you ever seen those beautiful tied Chinese knots? Did you know that
each different design is a good luck wish? One of the most popular knots is
double happiness, which in Chinese tradition is given to newlyweds,
signifying a wish for their luck and happiness to double.
Xing, Shi and Ming are the most common Chinese family names. There are
only 22 ancient Chinese surnames still in use today. The family name
indicated a blood tie within the Chinese social structure and was a symbol of
class. In ancient China, 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, women were the clan
leaders and marriages were only allowed among certain classes.
There are many colorful Chinese Festivals happening all year round. There
are some major ones that span out over several days or several weeks that
are celebrated all across China, and then there are the ones celebrated in
different regions of China by the 53 different minority groups. Chinese
Festivals offer a unique insight into the rich 5000 year history and traditions
of China. If you are living in China, the Chinese people will graciously invite
you to be part of their traditional celebrations. Click the link above to check
out some interesting celebrations like Qing Ming - graveyard cleaning and
picnic time, the Water Splashing Festival in Yunnan, Chinese Valentine's Day,
Dragon Boat Festival and more.

Beijing Opera is a uniquely Chinese form of theatre that relates stories of

romance, legend and battles. There used to be troupes that travelled China
to put on the shows, but today, the best place to enjoy it is in Beijing.Chinese
Shadow Puppetry is an ancient form of storytelling which was popular during
the Song Dynasty during the holiday season. The stories of the shadow
puppets told of events that had happened elsewhere in the country and
stories with a Buddhist background.