On Japan, China and Things That Don’t Matter When Disaster Strikes

 Like so much of the world our hearts are shattered for Japan this week.  Disaster has a way of breaking otherwise unbreakable barriers and exposing what we once thought was most significant as small, petty and irrelevant.  Wealth, prestige, political agendas, even deep seated, generations old prejudices are all smashed on a level playing field when thousands of people die.China hates Japan. Ok, that’s an intentionally overstated generalization but there are a LOT of hard feelings in this part of the world.  I have watched some of the sweetest, gentlest, most loving Chinese people I know grow fangs and spit venom at the mere mention of Japan.  It’s a hatred that dates back decades but it’s a grudge that many are unwilling to let time heal.  And yet, this week, even China has a shattered heart.It’s a shock for us Western folk who thought that Japanese and Chinese were pretty much the same people but just a hint for future travelers . . . NOT the same.  Take a look at the pictures below.  Two elderly gentlemen, one Chinese and the other Japanese.  They may look very much the same to you but they couldn’t be more different at their core.  They have a different heritage, speak a different language and have watched history unfold from very different perspectives, most likely pledging allegiance to clashing ideals.  Given their age it might even be safe to say that if they had met at any point in the last 60 years there would be much swearing if they were in a good mood.  One picture was taken this week in the aftermath of the earthquake/tsunami and the other was taken in 2008 following the South China earthquake that killed more than 70,000 people.  Can you tell or do they look the same to you?   I kind of wonder if maybe this week . . . they feel the same too.Think you know?  Leave your answer as a comment first and then click the links to find out.  No cheating.  

Chinese or Japanese?  Click here to find out.
Chinese or Japanese?  Click here to find out.


  1. When I was doing my internship in NZ I worked with Chinese and Japanese students…it was very very hard to get them to even begin to speak to each other. Also, I still know my Asians…I guessed right.

  2. Good job Corey. Funny thing — LaWanda and I (who live in China) both guessed wrong . . . or at least I would have guessed wrong if I didn’t know the answer already.


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