The Chinese Love-Hate Relationship With Japan

Anyone that has lived in Asia or has studied history knows that there is animosity between the Chinese and Japanese. Most of this hatred seems to be one-sided, at least from my perspective as a foreigner, since many Japanese respect Chinese. It is the Koreans that Japanese tend to have disdain for, but that is another story.

Pokemon comes from Japan, but has a large following in China

Living here in China, however, I see that many young Chinese people have an affinity for Japanese culture. Cartoons such as Hello Kitty, Doraemon, and Crayon Shin Chan are immensely popular in the Middle Kingdom. In fact, I see these characters here more than I ever saw them in Japan.

Cosplay is another aspect of contemporary Japanese culture that seems to be picking up in China. I have seen more random cosplay here than I ever saw in Japan (outside of “anime districts” and maid cafes, at least). While the Chinese cosplayer’s costumes that I have been seeing are nowhere near as elaborate as their Japanese counterparts, it still amazes me to see cosplayers on the metro. China and its fashion certainly has changed over the decades.

My girlfriend is often perplexed as to why China has a complex of worshiping Japan and Korea. She believes that china has the ability to create a culture just as recognizable is not more so than other East Asian countries. I agree with her, but for some reason, Chinese media just hasn’t picked up like Japanese and Korean media have. True, Hong Kong cinema has its share of fans, and Hollywood is certainly throwing plenty of bones to China, but how many Western kids talk about Chinese cartoons, movies, or songs?

Not many, to my knowledge, but perhaps that will change.

As a foreigner, it is not my place to criticize the feelings that Chinese and Japanese have towards each other. If you know my story, you know that I got my start in Japan. I wouldn’t be here in China if it were not for that first trip to Japan at age nineteen. Both countries have contributed to my growth as a person, and I have no animosity against either.

The modern love-hate relationship that some Chinese harbor for Japan, however, reminds me of the relationship that Black Americans have with Whites. We claim to dislike White people, yet rely on them for most of our needs. I do not condemn anyone for having these thoughts having an understanding where they come from. I only advise that we be honest with ourselves. Perhaps then we can move to a more advantageous position.

Until next time,

“Admiral” Denzel Bryant