Internship in Japan

Japan vs China

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Internship in China

Chinese cultureDespite being located in the same continent, and fairly close to each other, Japan and China are two very different countries. While Japan is an open, parliamentary constitutional monarchy, China is one of the largest Communist countries in the world. Japan is considered as one of the most advanced countries in the world, and China has a fascinating history and a well-developed economy. Both the Japanese and Chinese can be offended when you mix the cultures up, even if it is a silly little mistake, try to understand the big differences. It’s a common misperception among people in the West that these two countries are very similar, but you’d be surprised at how many differences there are. To help you prepare for your trip, we’ve put together some of the biggest.   

Economical differences

Working in JapanJapan is seen as one of the most advanced countries of the world, while China has one of the most developing economies in the world. But if you compare the two countries side by side, Japan is in fact richer, and the population enjoy a higher standard of living then they do in China. After decades, China has opened up and entered a new era of market-oriented policies and development. It is called the ‘Chinese style capitalism’, but not all citizens benefit from it. Some areas remain severely underdeveloped, while urban areas are growing richer and richer. China is a developing country, meaning it’s a cheaper than Japan, which has a very high cost of living. If you aren’t careful, just a few days in Tokyo could empty your wallet, while life in Beijing or Shanghai is slightly more affordable. To give you an idea; in Tokyo or Osaka you will pay around $30 for meals in one day, while being in Shanghai or Beijing you can expect to only pay around $20.


Cultural and Linguistic differences

Daily life in Chin

Most people think that China and Japan share a lot of cultural similarities, but they are actually two very different cultures. The two nations have as much in common as they have differences. One of the main differences is that Chinese people tend to be freer and more opener, while the Japanese are more modest and a little more closed. Also the Chinese are more open about public affection than the Japanese are; the Japanese will try to have as little contact as possible with other people, while the Chinese are more open. Japan is more a standardized and harmonized country, while China has significantly more variety than Japan in terms of food, clothing and customs etc. One explanation of this is that China is a far bigger country than Japan. The Chinese and Japanese languages have more differences than you would probably think; the written language in China is Mandarin Chinese, while Japan has multiple written languages; Hiragana, Katakana, and Rōmaji. The spoken language is different from the written language. China has multiple spoken dialects including Mandarin, Wu and Cantonese, while in Japan they only have one dialect. Chinese is considered one of the most complicated languages in East Asia, but Japanese is probably more confusing language than Chinese because of the differentscripts that are used (kanji, hiragana and katakana). Kanji is used more on a regular basis and hiragana is used for native Japanese words, while katakana are used for the foreign words.

Business differences


When doing business in China there are things you have to take into account. For example, that Chinese people don’t like to use the word no, they prefer using different ways of phrasing that they don’t want something. They will say that there are better options for things, or to take more time to look for a solution instead of saying no directly. When doing business with China it is appreciated to take a present, but you can’t just take anything you like; you should avoid bringing white and black paper, shoes or watches. Also, when doing business, you should avoid making eye contact with Chinese people. They don’t think that not making eye contact is rude, they see having eye contact as a way of intimidation and challenging the other person.

Working in Japan


Japan, as well as China, has a different way of doing business then Western countries. In Japan they value teamwork as one of the main priorities in working with other people. Also, hierarchy is very important to remember; always respect older people and those with a higher status (you should of course respect everyone, but especially those people). Bowing is a nice way to show respect and gratitude in the Japanese culture, but the Japanese also try to adapt to the culture they are doing business with. So, they will probably not expect you to bow during a meeting, but with a handshake and then bow your body a little bit and you will show the same gesture. Giving a business card is a whole experience in itself, so there are some ‘rules’ with that as well. A business card is someone’s representation towards you and it show who he is and what is function is, that means that you have to handle it with respect and care. When you are going to introduce to a Japanese business man/woman, you always tell them your full name, company name and title. As you know the position is very important in Japan, so it is important to mention it clearly to the person you are doing business with. Try to have one side of your business cards translated to Japanese.


When you think about it, the two countries are quite similar when doing business with them. The way they receive gifts, and the way they eat and drink. The two countries are so similar in this respect because Japan is the first country that has been greatly influenced by the Chinese culture. Knowing the difference and comparisons is very important, especially for business people. You should prepare yourself when you have learned about the culture, and they will appreciate it when you do so.

Culinary differences

Japanese cuisine

Japanese cuisine is about the use of ingredients, the way of cooking and how the food should be eaten. It is light for the stomach, and also most of the time it is healthier than Chinese cuisine. In Japan they cook with less oil and use less carbohydrates.  They have some rice dishes, but it is not the major ingredient in this cuisine. Raw food is also highly popular in Japan, especially sea food. Sushi, Udon, yakisoba, katsu, those are real Japanese dishes. In the Chinese cuisine they are focused on the Chinese way of cooking. Noodles and rice are the traditional and main ingredients in the cuisine of China. With the use of a lot of oil and the high use of noodles and rice (which are full of carbohydrates) the food in China isn’t as healthy as Japanese food. The Chinese use a traditional wok pan for making their food, this is the reason why the Chinese are so fond of pan frying their food. The chefs give a lot of thought to preparing the food, and to make it stand out to the customers. Herbs and spices are also a commonly used ingredient in the Chinese cuisine to make the dish stand out and add more flavour. In terms of cuisine, what Japan and China have in common is that after having their dinner, they like to have a cup of tea. Japanese prefer a cup of green tea while the Chinese are fonder of black tea.

So, while China and Japan have a lot of differences, they also have a lot of similarities. When going there, especially for business, there are things you have to take into account. And even things like food, the people and the country differ more than you think. It’s important to prepare for the country you’re going to, and make sure not to make silly mistakes that confuse these two countries. Look on some of the habits and the way of living in both nations, and make sure to find out the things that are important for you, so you can find the best country to suit you. 

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