just wanted to post on falling into the trap of focusing solely on things Japanese as a means of forming ideas about Asian culture. In a word: don't.
Japanese culture is probably the most exported, due to a few big factors:
1) since the mid 1800's Japan has been open for trade. Since just after WW2, Japan was 'persueded' to become a capitolist democracy.
2) since the 70's Japan has been the dominant manufacturer/financial force in the East.
3) Strong political/corporate ties to the West since after the war.
4) Strong ties with western educational and scientific institutions.
Communist Asian countries had no such strong ties with the west, hence the lack of translated research material, exported Arts and culture exchange.
Some Asian cultures were simply devoured and tossed away by western and Japanese colonialism (pre WW2).
Other Asian cultures just didn't see the need to capitalize on exporting and comercializing it's culture as a tourist attraction at the same time, not closing it's doors to those interested. Soviern Tibet comes to mind.
Okinawa is a good example of how we in the west can inaccurately picture a culture. Almost all translated materal from Okinawa goes thru an initial translation to Japanese...which then it is translated into a western language. basically, the mass of westerners see Okinawan culture thru the eyes of Japan. It would be a bit like Britain filtering Ireland's history and culture/Arts to the world.
Think of all of the things Japanese we've been bombarded with over the past 30 or so years....movies, Arts, literature, business/products, etc...the list goes on and touches almost every part of western life.
what do we know Tâi-oân (Taiwan) for? sub-standard products produced thru wal-mart? Thats hardly fair to a unique culture thats been around longer than printed history itself. But it's history obscurred thru China->Portuguese->Dutch->Japanese translation thru the centuries.
Still, thats the way it is. but I'm just saying that before getting too deep into an infatuation with one particular culture and calling it 'Asian' is a mistake.
The only reason I write on alot of Japanese topics is because my kids' Mom happens to be a national of that country. Because of that relationship, Japan will always be part of our family.
Just don't misjudge that since Japan produces the most accessable material, that they speak for all of Asia. hardly. 17% of the WORLD speaks Mandarin...2% speak Japanese.
I'm not bashing Japan...giving things to think about is all.