Western Culture influences Asian Society

The diversity in Canada ranges from all different types of races and backgrounds. As of 2013, Canada is one of the most well known multicultural countries in the world today(CBCNEWS, 2003). Out of the 1.8 million immigrants that arrived in Canada from 1991-2001, 58 percent were from Asia. (CBCNEWS, 2003) There is a China town in downtown Vancouver, hundreds of Asian markets scattered around the country, Asian communities and schools built within these past 50 years. We all know that Asian culture has recently made big influences on western culture, but Western culture has also recently made a great impact on Asian culture as well.

Western Culture has made a huge influence on the Asian society after World War 2(Thompson, 2011). The rate of travelers coming to Asia has increased and the Asian culture has been more modernize than before.(Thompson, 2011)  Many people in Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and many other countries have the desire to look Caucasian and be more westernized by eating westernized foods. As a child, I have always been told by my parents that white, light skin, big eyes, tall and skinny was considered beautiful.Korea holds the title of having the highest rate of plastic surgery in the world(Holiday). Both men and women get surgery to make their eyes bigger, jaw lines defined, bigger lips, higher cheekbones, and bleaching of the skin to be whiter(Dolnick, 2011).  It’s amazing to see what plastic surgery can do to a person. Where do they get these ideas of what is beautiful and what is not?  We see that most of the famous people in the world carry these traits.  The media makes a big influence on what many people consider as beautiful. These people are fascinated by Western culture and they see all these beautiful people on television looking this way and they want to look just like them. Western culture has also influenced Asia by the food they eat. 50 years ago, you would never be able to find a McDonalds in China, now there are hundreds of McDonald’s restaurants all around Asia(MacDonald,2013).  I went to Vietnam when I was 7 years old, my cousins always talked about how they wanted to try a pizza or burger because they saw it on TV and they think that’s all we eat in Canada. At the time they didn’t have many restaurants that sold burgers and pizza, only super fancy restaurants that were extremely expensive. When I recently went to Vietnam 2 years ago, I noticed a big change. There were KFC’s on every street, burger restaurants and pizza joints everywhere. I was amazed to see how much has changed and how westernized it had got.

I have moved to Canada for eight years now, and during these years, I would go back to visit Taiwan if I had the chance. One thing that has come to my attention is the cultural diffusion between western and eastern countries; holiday celebrations are especially interesting because I have found that the influences of cultures show the most in them. For example, “Christmas prevails as the most widely popularized American holiday among Japanese festivals” (Konagaya), and more interestingly, “the Japanese since World War II have adapted the holiday to their cultural context and added distinctive features not found elsewhere in Christmas customs” (Konagaya). As Konagaya has mentioned, the adapter cultures not only take the traditions from the origin cultures, but they also add on their own cultural characteristics. When Japanese celebrates Christmas holiday, they use “a round white cake decorated with red strawberries” because it “expresses symbols that communicate cultural values, social relations, and the distinctive identity of modern Japan” (Konagaya), and that’s definitely a special tradition that Americans don’t have when they are celebrating Christmas. Also, the Japanese see the holiday as “an environment for them [Japanese] to detach from the routines of everyday life and experience an American milieu,” while Christmas in the West has a religious value rather than a relaxed holiday: the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Nowadays, “for Japanese, Christmas continues to provide an arena to rehearse American values” (Konagaya), and this shows how the cultural differences have influenced one culture and another. Even in my home country, Taiwan, people celebrate Christmas as if it has always been one of our official holidays, and sometimes this fact makes me wonder if they actually understand the meaning of Christmas. One thing I am sure about is that everyone enjoys the experience of sharing the same value with different cultures.

By Sally Tran and Cheshire Lin

Work Cited

CBCNEWS (2003). Census shows Canada truly multicultural. Retrieved from  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2003/01/21/census030121.html.

Dolnick, Sam. (2011). Ethnic Differnces Emerge in Plastic Surgery. Retrieved from http://www.yagerplasticsurgery.com/pdf/Ethnic-Differences-Emerge-in-Plastic-Surgery.pdf.

Konagaya, H. (2001). The Christmas Cake: A Japanese Tradition of American Prosperity. Journal Of Popular Culture, 34(4), 121.

Mcdonald. (2013). Resturant locators. Retrieved from http://www.mcdonalds.com/content/us/en/restaurant_locator/restaurant_locationsresults.html?country=us&method=search&primaryCity=asia&postalCode=&language=en.

Thompson, Mark. (2011). Pacific Asia after “Asian Values’: Authoritarianisms, Democracy, and ‘Good Governance’. Third World Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 6. Pp. 1079-1095.


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