China, movies in almost any town. But

China,
Japan and South Korea are known in recent history for their rapid urbanisation
and industrialisation, which is evident in the populace, being stereotyped as
workaholics with very little free time.

Culture in
Asia

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Everyone knows about kung fu or sushi these
days, either from personal experience or from media. We can take karate
lessons, taste Chinese food or watch Bollywood movies in almost any town. But
how much else do we really know about these Asian cultures, about their
religions, holidays and their peoples?

The eastern continent of Asia is home to many
different cultures and peoples, among them the ancient civilizations of China
and India, as well as birthplace to several world religions, such as Buddhism,
Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. Asia can be divided into several parts based on
cultural influence, these being West, East, South, Central, North and Southeast
Asia. They all differ greatly in religion, architecture, language, and
philosophy.

The first pictures that form in our mind when
we hear the word Asia would probably be that of East Asia, that is, the region
of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. And for good reason, as many products we
use in our everyday life come from here, from cars to our clothes, as well as
our electronics. The region’s main cultural influence is China, being the
source of their writing system, each nation having developed their own version
from it, as well as their language.

Changing economics and lifestyles have led to
a concentration of population in major cities, with multi-generational
households separating into nuclear families. China, Japan and South Korea are
known in recent history for their rapid urbanisation and industrialisation,
which is evident in the populace, being stereotyped as workaholics with very
little free time. It is not surprising then that in Japanese media the hero is
almost always a young boy or girl still in high school, typically a delinquent
who goes against the system, ambitious not to become yet another boring
salaryman.

Japan was heavily influenced by western
culture. City centres tend to be decorated for Christmas when the time comes,
and Valentine’s Day has also found its place among their holidays. In fiction,
video games or movies, they often use German, English or even Roman names for
characters, objects or places. There are many cafes and restaurants where the
selling point is the employees posing as maids and butlers. Concerning feminism,
a visitor would see no signs of it. Japan has a problem of infantilizing women
and expecting them to act obedient and cute. Meanwhile birthrates are
continuously falling as people have less and less time and motivation to marry.
Western influence is evident in more developed parts of China as well.Some
western holidays are celebrated, although there are some protests against their
public celebration. People in Chinese movies often have English nicknames, and
Chinese people do often use such names when talking with foreigners. It is
believed that these names bring good luck, most likely due to their defeat by
the British during the Opium Wars and the British colonization of Hong Kong,
which only recently became part of China again.

The younger generations are also shaped by the
surge of technological advancements. For example, it is not uncommon for young
South Koreans to get plastic surgery. However, there is a strong commitment for
keeping traditions alive, such as the shrines in Japan, which the people tend
to visit for good luck, or doing things according to feng shui in China, such
as arranging furniture in a room, or even when constructing a building. Confucianism
can be said to be the common moral philosophy among these nations, with its
humanistic values and emphasis on family and social harmony. The subcontinent
of India in South Asia is one of the biggest and most populous countries in the
world. Considering these circumstances, it is no wonder they speak so many
different languages based on region. Thus, it can not be denied that the
British colonists helped them, at least in this aspect, establishing a lingua
franca in the form of English for them, although the other languages are still
spoken far and wide. Most of the population is either Hinduist, Buddhist,
Muslim, or even Sikh, making it one of the most secular nations of the world.
As India is so populated, streets and roads tend to be very crowded, which
makes traffic very slow most of the time, especially if there is a cow on the
road. Public transport is more than just crowded; passengers have to get
creative on which part of the train or bus they are going to travel on, which
often ends up being the roof of the vehicle.
Indians are very hardworking people, career being one of the most important
values in their society. It is a common trend nowadays for big companies to outsource
their offices to India, often used for comedic effect in television. As career
is very important to Indian people, it is not uncommon for parents to arrange
future marriages for their children with other parents to ensure the family a
bright future. Of course, many Indian youth have no intention of marrying
someone they barely know, and this often results in them moving abroad to
places such as England, America or Australia. Indian traditions often make
their country seem backwards, such as bathing in the sacred river, especially
today when it is so polluted, or the worship of cows by Hindu people. Things
are even more difficult in rural parts of India, which do tend to be backwards
compared to the rest of India. In such places people may not have a common
language and have smaller radical communities.

West Asia, often referred to as the Middle
East, is the birth place of many different ancient cultures, as well as of the
three Abrahamic religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. The region’s
dominant religion is Islam, but there are also Jewish and Christian majority
countries. A controversial topic surrounding West Asia is the oppression of women.
Stereotypically in most of the region women wear clothes that hide their
features, revealing only their face, they usually are not in positions of
power, but are instead housewives, and apparently are looked down upon for
driving. However, there has been a surge of progressive changes to battle these
problems, female officials had been elected in various places and positions,
and concerning the female dress code, men are often seen wearing similar
traditional clothing, which is rather logical in countries located around
deserts.

To summarize, Asia is probably the most
diverse place on Earth, culturally and geographically, ranging from nomad
cultures in Siberia or Mongolia to immensely urbanised metropolises in China or
Thailand, from snowy mountains to deserts and beach resorts.