The extension to various parts of the world is generally known as globalization. Not only is it rampantly applicable to the present age, but globalization dates as far back as the first millennium BC. Asia, as a culture, has contributed much (and is continuously doing so) to the global village in terms of food, technology, entertainment, social norms and fashion to name a few. The extension to various parts of the world is generally known as globalization. Not only is it rampantly applicable to the present age, but globalization dates as far back as the first millennium BC. Asia, as a culture, has contributed much (and is continuously doing so) to the global village in terms of food, technology, entertainment, social norms and fashion to name a few. As the world forges ahead with cultural convergence and assimilation, I have listed a few of the myriad Asian contributions to the modern world. I have scoured through Wikipedia for blurbs of its histories and origins for your reading pleasure.
One of the world’s favorite drinks, tea originally came from the region around India, China and Myanmar — the Eastern Himalayas to be exact. It was originally used for medicinal purposes in China, and slowly crept towards India and Japan through the extension of Buddhism. The Chinese have been enjoying tea as far back as the first millennium BC. Through the historical trades between the East and the West, tea has reached the Western world and has maintained it as part of everyday living — especially in the UK, who have dubbed tea as English penicillin, as it supposedly makes unfortunate situations much more tolerable. Now, tea has become a social culture where people gather to drink it such as afternoon tea parties and tea ceremonies.
Yoga has evolved into one of the most popular forms of exercises in the world. It first started in India as part of the many Hindu philosophies which zeroes in on meditation. Yoga is mainly Sanskrit which means “to join” or “to unite” and it has been a major participant in religion and spirituality. At present, yoga has been popularized as a collection of stretching techniques that improves one’s health and even relieves stress. It continues on as a practice that makes one feel harmony and peace with the environment.
3) The Walkman
Revolutionized by Sony, the concept of the Walkman came to be when Sony chairman, Morita, back in 1979 requested to be able to listen to his operas while travelling. Engineer, Nobutoshi Kihara — also accredited with the invention of the Betamax and digital cameras — came up with the Walkman, which is essentially a portable cassette player. Nowadays, the Walkman has further progressed into personal CD players (the Discman) and mp3 players as portable music technology. Apple’s iPod has a lot to thank its ancestor for. If not for Sony, how boring will our everyday commute or gym work-outs be?
4) Soy Milk and Tofu
Soy milk and tofu are consistent partakers in healthy eating and nutrition in the world. Not only such, but both have also influenced many different cuisines globally. Both originated in China way back before written records existed where soy beans were used as food. Thanks to Liu An of the Han Dynasty for the discovery and cultivation of these delicacies. From there forward, these soy products rampantly spread throughout Asia, eventually making it to the Western world. Today, soy milk has become a substitute for whole milk and is propagated by popular commercial chains such as Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. And tofu, much to the delight of many vegans and vegetarians, are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals.
5) Slippers/Flip flops
Thanks to the Japanese that this major piece of fashion trend has come to be. It originated back during the Meiji period to be used primarily as indoor footwear. Evidently, the Japanese created these primarily for foreigners who didn’t understand that it was Japan’s tradition to take of their shoes when going inside someone’s house. Slippers originally were meant to cover someone’s shoes whilst inside the house to maintain cleanliness and sanitation. However, flip flops have taken the modern world by storm — in the form of footwear not only to be used indoors but for the beach, strolling, casual wear and other outdoor activities.
The good ol’ brolly that we so often use to protect ourselves from the cold rain was originally conceived in ancient China, around 1,700 years ago. The concept eventually travelled to Japan, Korea, Persia, the rest of the Middle East, and finally… the West. Part of Chinese and Japanese customs also involve the use of parasols, which are essentially umbrellas used to protect one from the sun, rather than the rain. Eventually, the concept of the parasol was adopted as a fashion item that depicts a lady throughout the world.
One of the most common sources of entertainment, the concept of karaoke (meaning “orchestra) was given birth to in Japan by singer Daisuke Innoue in 1971. He was primarily asked to record his back tracks for his fans to sing along to. Unfortunately, he missed the window for becoming one of Japan’s richest men when he skipped out on putting a patent on the famous karaoke machine. Filipino inventor, Roberto del Rosario, instead took up the chance of patenting a similar device called the Minus-One and still holds the patent to date. Karaoke, for a long time, has been enjoyed by Asia especially in China, Korea, Japan and the Philippines especially in KTVs (public karaoke venues) — and it wasn’t only until 1999 when it became famous in the US and Europe and has been featured in many famous movies such as My Best Friend’s Wedding and The Cable Guy in the late 90’s. What better way to spend a drunken night other than karaoke-ing?
8) Martial Arts
It is of popular belief that martial arts originated in Asia. However, some have also originated in Europe and the Americas in the form of boxing and wrestling. Those martial arts from Asia (such as karate, aikido, muay thai, taekwondo, etc) are said to bear some sort of influence for those of the Chinese and Indians. Within the past two centuries, the West’s interest in Asian martial arts has gotten bigger, thanks to the trade relations between the US and China or Japan. In modern society, legendary icons such as Bruce Lee have helped spread the phenomenon through the media and have paved the way for major blockbusters such as Kill Bill and Crouching Tiger.
Though there is much debate regarding the origin of this popular food item — with contenders being the Italians, Chinese and even the Arabs — the earliest written accounts of noodles were from China during the East Han Dynasty. Early forms of noodles were allegedly made from foxtail millet and broomcorn millet, which are slim and leafy stems. One of the more popular forms of noodles known to us in this generation is instant noodles — universalized by the Japanese (particularly by Nissin, a major manufacturer of instant noodles). Instant noodles are not only a staple among college students, but also among developing nations. As a matter of fact, instant noodles have evolved to be an economic indicator with a rise in sales regarded to be an indication of economic recession.
10) Chinos (or khakis)
Aaah, the well-loved pair of pants that we lovingly wear for both comfort and fashion — widely popularized by Gap. The concept of chino pants were taken by the US army as part of their uniform during the Spanish-American War in the Philippines back in the 1900s. The trousers were originally created in China — hence the “chino” coming from the Spanish word for “Chinese — and was first sold in order to meet fabric constraints during World War II.
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