China vs. Japan: Can One Love Both?

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TOKYOPOP Fam: Hi everyone!

So, the “fight of the century 2015” just wrapped with Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeating Manny Pacquiao in a unanimous decision after the full 12 rounds.  

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Just like that fight, Japan and China are constantly going at it - jabbing, punching and dancing around each other.  And also like that fight, everyone has their own opinions on who is really the "winner".

But for those of us who are neither Japanese nor Chinese, the situation is different - do we have to choose?

Granted, the history between these great nations is controversial to say the least.  My blog is not the place to dig into that history, even if I had the gumption to do so.

Instead, I simply want to tell you my experience as a Japan-lover who is now becoming a China-lover too.

For many years I dove into Japanese culture - learning as much as I could about the language, trends, history, lifestyle and people.  My own personality is such that I find all cultures fascinating - and have been fortunate enough to travel to many places, learning tons on the way.  In Asia, I've particularly spent a lot of time in Korea, as well as periodic visits to Southeast Asia including Hong Kong and Taiwan.

However, I had always steered clear of mainland China until recently.

Why?  At first I was simply overwhelmed, and perhaps intimidated.  China's culture is so complex, its history so rich, that I wouldn't escape without doing a deep dive.  Treading water wouldn't be enough.

So, for many years I simply avoided it.  Then, a year or two before the Beijing Olympics, I began to have business discussions with a large Chinese company, which led to a few Beijing and Shanghai trips.  This was almost 10 years ago and China was a very different place.

Ultimately, the people on the other side disappeared - literally disappeared!  So, I got scared.  Living between Japan and the US, I had heard many forewarnings about China business.

Particularly in Japan, I find most people there I know have a strong distrust (and perhaps even hatred) for China.   Vice-versa is also the case, but I still didn't know almost anything about China.  My solution?  I went back to avoiding it.

Fast forward to now - I dipped my toes back in the water over the past 2 years, mainly because the film industry there is so successful that avoiding China is a non-starter.  Also, as International Chair of the Producer's Guild of America, it's my responsibility to educate myself on all aspects of the film biz worldwide.

So, after returning to Shanghai in 2013, then Beijing late last year and again two weeks ago (as well as Shenzhen once and Hong Kong twice - all in the last month), I'm hooked!

I'm at the very early stages of learning 普通话 (putonghwa = Mandarin) and am completely fascinated with China.

As a "babe in the woods" when it comes to the Middle Kingdom, that mountain of learning ahead of me is still absurdly intimidating - and I'm no longer a "spring chicken".  But it's thrilling to discover this fascinating enigma of a culture.

For me, juggling between my loyal love for Japan over the years and my newfound love for China isn't easy.  I have to figure out how and when to use our brand TOKYOPOP (to put it mildly, it doesn't go over too well in China), and I'm learning to temper my enthusiasm for Chinese learning while around friends & colleagues in Tokyo.  It's still worth the effort.

Every now and then here in my blog, you'll join me as I discover China.  The Chinese also love cosplay, anime and manga - and I intend to help them create their own, while staying intimately involved in Japan.

We'll see if I can pull it off, but if you are open-minded, please join me on this discovery ride to 中国 (zhong-guo = China).

祝你一切都好!(zhuni-yiqie-douhao = all the best)

--Stu