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Cultural, Travel, Understanding Business in China, Weekend Trips

Travelling in and around China: Japan

China – the Kingdom of the middle- had a wide influence in Asia. In almost every neighboring  country of China you can still find traces of Chinese Civilization from hundreds of years ago. However, you can also discover external influences in Chinese culture – customs, habits, products or even whole lifestyles have been imported from abroad and been integrated into Modern Chinese Culture. One of those neighboring countries which China always had a very special relationship to, is Japan. I had the chance to get a return flight for only 3.000,- RMB to Tokyo so I took advantage of it and explored a beautiful and fascinating place not far from China.

InternChina - at Chengdu airport
InternChina – at Chengdu airport

Even though, Japan is geographically located close to China, the cultures are differing a lot from each other. As a German I can see the parallels rather between Japanese and Germans… but then on the other hand, there are a lot of concepts and ideas which are shared by the Japanese and the Chinese and make them very similar from a Western perspective!

To give you an idea of similarities and differences between Japanese and Chinese Culture, I want to share my experiences and observations with you.

InternChina - Park in Tokyo inspired by Chinese Daoists
InternChina – Park in Tokyo inspired by Chinese Daoists
InternChina - only in Asia
InternChina – only in Asia
japanese nightlife
japanese nightlife

Traffic: A lot of foreigners perceive Chinese traffic as more chaotic than organized (see our blog: https://internchina.com/surviving-in-chinese-traffic/). When I arrived in Tokyo, it was the complete opposite picture. Even though, more people seem to use public transportation at the same time, everything was very organized, calm and people act very polite. For Chinese people it seems normal to use their elbows, don’t cover their mouths when they are coughing or sneezing in public and shout into their mobile phone on any possible occasion – Japanese people prefer their little space around themselves, nobody talks on the phone in the subway and avoid under any circumstance to run into each other even if it is crowded. It was very interesting to see that crowded doesn’t necessarily mean chaotic.
***Be aware though, that in Japan cars go on the left side of the street!

InternChina - organized traffic in Japan
InternChina – organized traffic in Japan
InternChina - friendly reminder in Tokyo subway
InternChina – friendly reminder in Tokyo subway

Language: Japanese on the first glance seems to be much easier than Chinese because you don’t have any tones that you need to take care of. If you know Chinese, you already can read a good part of the Japanese characters (not the pronounciation though, but you can guess the meaning!) which is very helpful in a country which is not using Latin letters. However, on a long-run mastering Japanese language seems to become a lot more complicated and rather difficult to master as grammatical rules are similarly difficult to German grammar. If you want to make quick progress on speaking learning Chinese seems to be the better choice (see our blog: https://internchina.com/china-vs-europe-reasons-to-learn-chinese-in-china/).

InternChina - studying Chinese
InternChina – studying Chinese

Saving/Losing face: Being in China for three years now gave me confidence to understand the idea of saving or losing face. For many westerners it is something very difficult to grasp and accept as a part of the Eastern Culture. It means a lot of rules, such as avoiding to name problems, not to negate or refuse anything directly or using a very flowery language. In business situations this can cause a lot of misunderstandings if you don’t understand these rules or are not be able to read between the lines. Japanese seem to follow this concept to an even further extent  than the Chinese, so I can imagine that for Westerners doing business in Japan is even more difficult to adapt to than doing Business in China. More about cross-cultural communication: https://internchina.com/cross-cultural-communication-in-china-west-vs-east/.

Eating and drinking: Japan offers a wide variety of traditional Japanese dishes, but also international influences can be found. There are many restaurants offering fusion kitchen and the Japanese interpretation of “Western Food”. Very similar to Chinese food, you can offer several dishes, which you can share with your friends. Of course, the best way is to get up very early in the morning and enjoy the freshest sushi in the world at the Tokyo fish market. However, excellent sea-food can be found in China as well – especially in coastal cities (e.g. Qingdao) sea-food will be offered and is part of traditional dishes. In the West we hold the prejudice, Chinese and Japanese wouldn’t drink a lot as they are lacking an enzyme to process alcohol. It is true, that the digestion/processing for a lot of Asians is difficult, but that doesn’t keep them away from consuming good amounts of beer (e.g. Asahi in Japan, Tsingtao-Beer in China) and rice wine (Baijiu in China, Sake in Japan). “Cheers” sounds very similar in Japanese (“Kanpai”) and Chinese (“Ganbei”). More info about eating and drinking customs in Asia: https://internchina.com/how-to-say-bon-appetit-in-chinese/.

InternChina - sharing Chinese food
InternChina – sharing Chinese food
great japanese food
great japanese food
sushi and sashimi
sushi and sashimi

Religion/Beliefs:  Chinese traditional beliefs are rooted in Confucianism, Daoism and the Buddhism which originally came from India to China. Japanese are traditionally Zen-Buddhists and Shintoists. Shintoists believe in “kami” (= spirits) which live in every tree, stone, house etc. Animism is a big part of Shintoism, which means, that each animal has its own spirit. That’s why you can find in Japan numerous parks with temples and shrines where people can pray to certain spirits. In China, there are only a few places left where Daoists and Buddhists can practice their traditional beliefs, modern culture dictates a very practical approach of practicing Buddhist and Daoist traditions. I was very fascinated by the parallels between Daoist beliefs and Shintoism. In both beliefs,  unity and harmony of humans and animals and nature in general play a significant role. Each country though developed their own interpretation of a universal truth. More about Daoism: https://internchina.com/a-visit-to-qingyang-temple-back-to-the-roots-of-daoism/.

InternChina - Daoist temple in Chengdu
InternChina – Daoist temple in Chengdu
InternChina - Shinto shrine for Rackoon dogs in the middle of Tokyo
InternChina – Shinto shrine for Rackoon dogs in the middle of Tokyo
InternChina - beautiful Garden in Japan InternChina - beautiful Garden in Japan
InternChina – beautiful Garden in Japan
InternChina – beautiful Garden in Japan

All in all it was a very interesting trip to Japan and I am sure to come back at a later point to enjoy the blossom of the Sakura trees (cherry trees) as it is said to be one of the most beautiful events in the world!

If you are interested in Eastern Culture, try an internship in China and see if you are ready for exploring the rest of Asia! Apply now and get a great internship in Qingdao, Chengdu or Zhuhai!

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Cultural, Events in Zhuhai, InternChina News, Internship Experience, Travel, Weekend Trips, Zhuhai InternChina Events

InternChina Weekend Trip to Guangzhou!

As I was studying one year in Guangzhou before my internship at InternChina I was pretty excited about organizing the trip to Guangzhou. I wanted to show everyone the city where I spent the last year in China.
We were a nice group of 12 people. We left Zhuhai on a Friday evening after work. We took the super-convenient high speed train to Guangzhou, which takes around one hour (one way 70 RMB). From the Guangzhou South Railway Station it was about 30 minutes to our hostel by metro.

We dropped our stuff off in the hostel and went to the BBQ nearby for dinner. It was a really relaxed evening. We were talking and drinking till late into the night.

On Saturday morning we met again for breakfast together and to do some sightseeing. I took the interns first to the Yuexiu Park. In the Park we found some rides, it was like a little amusement park. We had some fun on the rides, and after that we even rented some boats to row around the lake. Despite all the bumping into each other and terrible rowing skills, thankfully no people or boats were capsized or harmed. 

yuexiu park
yuexiu park

In the Yuexiu Park there is also the Guangzhou Museum, where we learned a little about Guangzhou city’s history.

guangzhou museum
guangzhou museum

After the Yuexiu Park we went to the Liwan Lake Park. It is a beautiful park with Chinese architecture, a lot of lakes and a beautiful night scenery. It was nice to walk around, take pictures and chill a bit.

Liwan Lake
Liwan Lake
Liwan Lake Park
Liwan Lake Park

Having been on our feet all day, everyone was pretty exhausted by the evening, but as we only had one weekend in Guangzhou, I wanted to follow my plan strictly! So after the parks, I gave everyone some time to get ready before we set out for the night.

I booked a table in a Teppanyaki Restaurant. Teppanyaki is Japanese and you get a big table with your personal cook, who will prepare the food in front of you. It is one of my favorite restaurants because the food is just amazing!!! You pay 168 RMB and you can drink and eat what you want for 2 hours. We ordered A CRAZY AMOUNT OF FOOD!!!!!! We had steaks, sushi, different kinds of seafood, different desserts, a lot of Sake (Japanese Alcohol), beers, wine and so on. CRAZY!!! By the end we were fairly drunk, including our cook who was happily drinking with us. For most of the people it was the first time Teppanyaki so it was a very nice experience.

Teppanyaki fire
Teppanyaki fire
Teppanyaki drink
Teppanyaki drinking with the chef

After the Teppanyaki we went to a nice Club in Guangzhou. We were dancing and having fun! We had an amazing night!

The next day we met at noon to have some Dim Sum. Guangzhou is famous for its Dim Sum, which is Cantonese food. We went to the Guangzhou Restaurant chain, a famous restaurant with many branches around Guangzhou. After the brunch, we did not have anything planned, so everyone got some free time. Some went to the Gaungzhou Fake Market (where you can buy just EVERYTHING!) and some went to the famous Walking Street in Guangzhou for shopping.

We took the train back on Sunday evening. While we chatted about the trip, most agreed that the best part was probably the Teppanyaki, and the interns asked me when we could go back to Guangzhou. After that I was happy that my trip was pretty successful and everyone had a great time. 

Cultural, Qingdao Blogs

The German History of Qingdao

Today I would like to give you a little insight about the German History of Qingdao. The reason, why I wrote this blog is, because a lot of people always ask me about the city´s exciting history, therefore I started a research for our Internchina interns and I would like to show you my results!
In 1914 the First World War broke out!

The Japanese wanted to continue to hold Qingdao for the remainder of the German lease and Chinese government then yielded to Japanese pressure. In 1938 Japan re-occupied with its plans of territorial expansion onto China´s coast, which lasted to 1945. Since the inauguration of China´s open-door policy to foreign trade and investment, western Qingdao developed quickly as a port city. Now it is the headquarters of the Chinese navy´s northern fleet.

The German occupation influenced Qingdao a lot, which used to be a small fishing village. Upon gaining control of the area the Germans equipped the poor place with wide streets, solid housing areas, government buildings and a rarity in large parts of Asia as that time and later. The area had the highest school density and the highest per capita student enrollment in all of China.

Commercial interest established the Germania Brewery in 1903, which later became the world-famous Qingdao Brewery. Also the Germans left a distinct mark on Qingdao´s architecture inevitably during the colonial period that can still be seen in its historic center and train station. Qingdao´s Old Town located in the German concession area is rich in European buildings. The mixture of historical sites and attractions in the old Qingdao city indicates the city´s diverse international cultures.

If you would like to learn more about the exciting history, come to Qingdao and apply now via mail or directly on our website!

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