Japanese Roots

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Japanese Roots
Just who are the Japanese?
Where did they come from, and when?


Japan is a country with a very colorful and interesting culture and traditions that is very unique not only in Asia but among all countries in the whole world. Uniquely enough that many aren't aware of their racial origin or maybe it's something that the Japanese themselves wouldn't want to know. Even tough physically they are almost close of being Koreans yet their language differs from their East Asian neighbors. The country is a mixture of different culture but later on created their own and became a different race from the other. Japan preserved its independence and culture while emerging from remoteness to create an industrialized society, making their country free from western and fellow Asians influence maintained their own traditions and customs in tact.

Brief Overview of Japanese origin

The article states the Japanese are very much like Koreans by means of their physical features and culture but the only contradicting factor is the language making the conclusion of their origin a mere blur. But the articles' points was answered with our class discussion held last 23rd of July, that the early inhabitants of Japan were people from Southern China. They migrated way before the Koreans but they were out numbered by them, the Koreans moved to Japan in the 9th century. Japanese is a combination of Chinese and Korean in a way because the ancient people of Japan spoke Altaic which is a mixture of both countries' language. It is a known fact that most countries in East Asia such as Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and others are classified to have people that originated from China and only three countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia originated in the Malay race. Saying that proves that the Koreans that migrated to Japan are originally Chinese because of the origin of its people. Chinese in origin but the people themselves that dominated Japan was Koreans in nationality, clearly making them Japan's first people.

Japanese claim that they are culturally and biologically they are identical with their Asian neighbors, with the exception of a distinctive group of people called the Ainu that inhabited Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido. Physically they have luxuriant facial hair and the most profuse body hair of any people; they are often classified as Caucasoids (so-called white people) who migrated to East Asia through Eurasia to Japan. But genetically, the Ainu are related to other East Asians, including the Japanese and Koreans. This fact is what the Japanese want to believe in, that the Ainu is Japan's original hunter-gatherer than to be a migrant of another country.

Theories about the Japanese origin

Four conflicting theories were formulated to explain and find out the origin of the Japanese. First one is that the Japanese evolved from ancient Ice Age people who occupied the country long before 20,000 B.C. That is a good possibility because evolution can be one way of saying that Japanese simply originated from Japan and not a sub race of Chinese or Koreans, but it lacks traces and evidences that can support the legitimacy of the theory. Another is that the Japanese descended from horse-riding Asian nomads who passed through Korea to conquer Japan in the fourth century. That said nomad's nationality was not stated or it could simply just be a Korean who was trying to conquer Japan and not just an Asian passing through the country. The third one is the most unlikely to be assumed by the Japanese, that they are descendants of immigrants from Korea who arrived with rice-paddy agriculture around 400 B.C. Just as stated earlier that Koreans inhabited Japan since the 9th century, and among the countries in East Asia, Japan was the last to engage in agriculture. Last is that the other three theories could have mixed to form the modern Japanese, the theory is the most unbelievable and the least reliable. Just the fact that the article said that the four theories are contradicting to one another makes it difficult and even impossible to combine all three theories and make a theory out of it. Among the four theories, the second and the third have points that lead to Koreans being Japan's ancestors it's just that the Japanese themselves do not want to accept the fact about their existence.

One believe in Japanese culture of their existence is based on a myth of history of the early recorded Japanese chronicles, that the sun goddess Amaterasu, born from the left eye of the creator god Izanagi, sent her grandson Ninigi to Earth on the Japanese island of Kyushu to wed an earthly deity. Ninigi's great-grandson Jimmu, aided by a dazzling sacred bird that rendered his enemies helpless, became the first emperor of Japan in 660 B.C. (retrieved from http://www2.gol.com/users/hsmr/Content/East%20Asia/Japan/History/roots.html)

Japan vs. Korea

Japan isolated their country from any form of influence from western or their Asian cousins, they feel that their language and culture are uniquely complex and free from other racial influence. It shows how they value their culture and tradition to the extent that claims of their origin are not that important for them because they believe that Japanese are people who lived and evolved in Japan. The constant connection between Japan and Korea about the country's people created a conflict between the two, for the reason both countries don't stand on the same ground of who among East Asian peoples brought culture to whom?

That's why when the Japanese' troops were send to Korea, they felt the need to restore what they believe is historically and originally theirs. That they weren't influenced by the Korea's culture but the other way around, they tried to eradicate the use of the Korean language in their schools and replace it with their language. Cruelty was even an option to prove supremacy by means of “nose tomb”, they collected nose from the Koreans and brought it back to their land as a form of trophy of the sixteenth-century Japanese invasion. The incident left a scar that forever will be written in history and it rooted from not having correct understanding of who the Japanese people really are.

Jared Diamond stated that “Like Arabs and Jews, Koreans and Japanese are joined by blood yet locked in traditional enmity.” (Retrieved from http://www2.gol.com/users/hsmr/ Content /East%20Asia/Japan/History/roots.html)

Japanese culture

Japanese are people who give large amount of respect for their own tradition and culture. Their early culture is highly based on arts specifically pottery. The earliest Jomon pottery, of 12,700 years ago, comes from Kyushu, the southernmost Japanese island. Jomon is a Japanese word for cord making which they have applied in pottery making. Their product is used in storing foods and sharpened arrow heads. One major food category abundant during their time were nuts, especially chestnuts and walnuts. It was said that the Jomon people are more of a hunter- gatherer and only domesticated dogs and perhaps pigs. They had no intensive agriculture and practiced rudimentary agriculture. Products from Jomon reached Korea and other part of Japan such as Okinawa.

The new mode of living flourished at the north coast of Japan, Kyushu. In this era Japan invented metal tools, discovered iron and developed a more up scale system of agriculture. The new mode of living is called Yayoi. Yayoi's pottery is evidently inspired by Korean culture. Evidences of their agriculture's development is practiced double cropping, with paddies irrigated for rice production in the summer, then drained for dry-land cultivation of millet, barley, and wheat in the winter. This started the inflation of population of the people of Kyushu because the greater agricultural resources, the bigger the population gets because they can support their families needs.

Another influence of the Koreans to the Chinese people is their religion; Buddhism. Even though it originated from China, it has a touch of Koreans since they were the one who brought it to the country. In this account it is said that the advent in agriculture in Japan was highly influenced by Koreans, some also say that the Tang Dynasty became the catalyst of development for China. In the seventh century, Japanese were able to send some of their people to the Tang Dynasty to study new way of cultivating their land and learn new medium of arts.

Japan's economy and innovations

Just like other ancient Asian Kingdom, Japanese at first was highly dependent on its natural resources making them more of a hunter and gatherer than a farmer. Later on, they developed a systematic way of cultivating their land and made agriculture their primary source of needs. Japan's economy was highly dependent on their culture and Japanese are highly creative and artistic with the emergence of the painted and black pottery that was traded with their neighbor countries such as Korea and China, just like in all developing countries, they engaged in trading with other nationalities. Both black and painted pottery serves the same purpose; they only represent a group of people that has the same culture.

Now Japanese is one of the leading countries not only in the South East Asia but in the whole world. They may have developed later than most countries in Asia but they immerged victorious in the end. Japan had a late industrial progress but look in what they are currently know for. Technology and advancements in the field of robotics and now, they are the only country that doesn't depend on their agricultural resources to support their economy.