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A sort of odd mishmash of Japan and China (with occasional bits of Korea, Mongolia and Southeast Asia), mixing various stereotypes about "the Orient" in general. Expect to see kung-fu or other martial arts, pandas, chopsticks, lots of bowing, shrines, burning incense, Cherry Blossoms, paper fans, ninja, dragons, asian lion dogs, billowing clothing and cutesy mascots. And maybe Rival Dojos. Essentialy an eastern counterpart to Ancient Grome.

Part of the reason for this may derive from the 19th-century history of East Asia, during which only Japan, China, and Siam (now Thailand, which isn't technically East Asia, but Southeast Asia) successfully resisted colonization by and loss of national identity to Western (or, in the case of the Koreans and Taiwanese, Japanese, and in the case of the Mongolians, Soviet) cultural hegemony. For slightly more than two generations, then, most Westerners were familiar only with the Japanese, Chinese, and Siamese cultures.

Has mostly become a Discredited Trope, and split off into individual tropes for Japan and China. It is, however, still often deliberately used in several fantasy settings, especially in those that use mishmashed cultures for other regions, for creative purposes, allowing a mixture of different cultural aspects for original Worldbuilding, instead of creating a straight up Fantasy Counterpart Culture, and is also sometimes used for the sake of Rule of Cool. In many RPGs set in a Medieval European Fantasy world, there will be one region, country or town that pretty much defines this trope (or the related subtropes). This occurs often even in games made in Japan (in fact, it seems to be even more prevalent in JRPGs). Overlaps with The Shangri-La, and sometimes with Holiday in Cambodia.

For the Useful Notes, see The Far East. Also see Interchangeable Asian Cultures.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has the country known as Xing which is based mostly off of China but has some Japanese included, as well such as certain Japanese words and Ninja. It's the second most important country since an alternate form of alchemy was created there.
  • Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit is set in a Culture Chop Suey Far East country based on a weird amalgamation of Goryeo Korea, Heian and Edo Japan, and a bit of various dynasties from China thrown in for a good measure. Though this is clearly the Alternate Universe and author being a professional culturologist and anthropologist she really shows her work here.
  • The Twelve Kingdoms also have the similar setting, although this time the Chinese influence is much greater. It too is generally better executed than is the norm.

  • Brilliantly parodied in the Discworld story Interesting Times, set in the Agatean Empire, also called the Aurient (as they have lots of gold). Included Highly-Visible Ninja, sumo, a Red Army (who were also the Terracotta Warriors), a Great Wall, gunpowder, court intrigue (with bowing), Noh plays (a working title for the book was "All Wok and Noh Play"), and some "oriental" features that we all know were invented in the west, like fortune cookies and Willow-Pattern china. The Agatean Empire has a Grand Vizier too, not only in Interesting Times but in Mort as well. "Vizier" was originally an Arabic word and "Grand Vizier" specifically was mainly used by the Ottoman Empire. The idea was to parody every concept that the Western literature has about the Far East, ancient or modern, by taking it to its (il)logical conclusion.
    • "Agatea"'s original fusion of Japan and China has since been expanded to take in Thailand and Malaya ("BhangBhangDuc")and a suspiciously familiar, to Koreans, pickled cabbage with seriously explosive side effects has been introduced, called grimchi.
  • Seen in the segment of If on a winterís night a traveler titled "On a Carpet of Leaves Illuminated by the Moon." It's set explicitly in Japan and is about a student learning something vaguely Zen from a stern master. Falling gingko leaves replace the image of Cherry Blossoms.
  • The Initiate Brother's setting is, by authorial intent, a blend of Japan and China. The geography is similar to China: a large continental country with ocean to the east, sparsely-populated wilds to the north, east-west rivers, and a north-south grand canal. The political system is also similar to imperial China, with a succession of dynasties (rather than a single sustained-but-sometimes-sidelined one, as in Japan). However, personal names are mostly Japanese-sounding, and clothing and armour seem to be basically Japanese too.
  • Jetlag Travel Guides: The nation of Phaic Tăn from the parody travel guide Phaic Tăn: Sunstroke on a Shoestring is an exaggerated mish-mash of Indochinese and south-east Asian cultures.
  • The country of Nippon in His Dark Materials. It's mentioned in passing by the worldly Lee Scoresby, but you can most likely ascertain the details from the name and main setting.
  • Terra Ignota: Played with; in the 20 Minutes into the Future setting, Asia has united politically and economically into the Mitsubishi landowner conglomerate (composed of China, Japan, Korea, and India), and is correspondingly treated as a single unit in world politics. However, politics and infighting between its component nations is a fairly significant plot point, such that by the fourth book, World War III nearly causes them to break up into at least five opposing factions.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Firefly: Runs with a definite "pan-Asian" mish-mash as its background rather than one that is specifically Chinese.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition supplement Oriental Adventures portrayed a guide to making "East Asian" inspired settings which combined Japanese character classes and Chinese kung fu styles (along with some Indonesian weaponry), with names that were literally a mishmash of both nations. The Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition namesake tried to downplay the overlap, but replacing Kara-tur with Rokugan (setting of Legend of the Five Rings) wasn't really the biggest step up.
    • Kara-tur was originally the example "East Asian D&D setting" in the aforementioned Oriental Adventures; alluded to being part of the Greyhawk setting, it was officially merged with the Forgotten Realms in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. It's a perfect example of this trope, revolving around a single continent in which different regions were clearly plucked from different parts of China, Japan and neighboring provinces across time and then mashed together, leading to things like the obviously Chinese-based Shou people having "Samurai" warriors. It started as simply a China/Japan hybrid, but when ported into the Realms, gained new realms based on Tibet, Indonesia and Korea. Interestingly, some of the complaints aimed at Kara-tur were that it didn't follow this trope enough, choosing dry historical cultural accuracy at the expense of a less straight, but arguably more entertaining setting, especially considering that the rest of the world was already made up of several regions running on mixed cultural tropes. It might not have helped that the states added in Kara-Tur were so Fantasy Counterpart Culture that in one case, the Tibet-analogue, they had forgotten to change the name of the country from Tibet in several parts of the description. Several people complained that it might have worked better if there had been more Fantasy and less Counterpart in the cultures, and the history of the cultures. Clearly for some this trope works.
      • Kara-tur is also the origin for two more East Asian-inspired spin-offs/subsettings; The Hordelands, based on Mongolia during the era of Genghis Khan, and Malatra, a Stone Age Indochinese jungle full of primitive tribes and dinosaurs.
    • Eberron has fun with its Asia-inspired country, the mysterious land of Riedra. Only this isn't your typical Asian-esque realm: think more North Korea with psychic powers and a dash of Cosmic Horror Story.
  • The GURPS fantasy RPG setting Yrth includes a pseudo-Asian nation called Sahud, which was founded by a random mix of Chinese, Korean and Japanese peasants transported from Earth by the Banestorm. The involuntary settlers attempted to rebuild their social system from their confused memories of what the upper classes looked like from afar, and "modern" visitors will find themselves in a land that seems to be half Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado and half Monty Python's The Tale of Genji.
  • The RPG Legend of the Five Rings is all about this. For example, the staple food is rice and sushi. True enough for a clone of medieval Japanese culture, right? Except the Empire itself is modeled after China. As in: huge tracts of inland, a Great Wall (though on the southern border), and a curiously independent island chain off the eastern coast.
  • Lampshaded in Munchkin Fu, where the background says the players are still arguing over whether they're in Tokyo or Hong Kong.
  • Old World of Darkness Year of the Lotus event gave us East Asian settings for every game. They include Kindred of the East, Hengeyokai, and Land of Eight Million Dreams. However, only the Hengeyokai are actually related to their counterparts in the rest of the world. The other two main books introduced entirely new types of supernatural creatures which, for some unclear reason, only exist in East Asia.
    • Wraith: The Oblivion has an unusual example in the Dark Kingdom of Jade, which encompasses the whole of East Asia and Southeast Asia but subverts this trope by being explicitly dominated by Chinese wraiths. Yu Huang, the ostensible wraith of Qin Shi Huangdi, conquered these territories soon after his death and his empire is deeply racist, with Han Chinese at the top of the social pyramid and everyone else regarded as slaves or potential raw material for White Jade.
  • Warhammer
    • The dominant human empire in the east of the Old World is the Empire of Grand Cathay (an archaic name for China), which keeps the Hobgoblin Khanate and the Kurgan (Death Metal northern Tatars who nearly took it over around fifteen hundred years before the setting's present) out with the "Great Bastion", is ruled by the "Dragon Emperor" and is described as "Land of the Celestial Dragon Monks", home to serpentine dragons, Temple Dogs of living stone, mystical Kirin, cities of jade, terracotta soldiers and reclusive monkey warriors. Games Workshop claim it is based on a real life culture, but to this day nobody in the Warhammer fandom has ever worked out which. Common consensus is that it is based on Swindon.
      • When Cathay started being expanded upon in the franchise's later years (starting with the Tamurkhan: Throne of Chaos Forge World supplement but especially in Total War: Warhammer III and by extension the upcoming Warhammer: The Old World relaunch), it was solidly marked down as a straight Imperial China analogue, albeit one that combines elements from multiple dynasties ranging from the post-Three Kingdoms Jin all the way to the Ming a millennium later. However, there are still a few Japanese elements present in the modern incarnation. For example, there are the Dragon-Blooded Shugengan Lords (Shugengan being derived from the Japanese Shugenja) and the Onyx Crowmen which are basically Tengu.
    • There is also the kingdom of Nippon, on an island just east of Cathay, but little of it is known save that it is highly isolationist and home to a rigid caste system enforced by knights in elaborate armor of lacquered wood. South of Cathay lie also the Hinterlands of Khuresh, but little to nothing is known of them save that it is mostly covered in jungle and that bloodthirsty nagas reign over it.

    Video Games 
  • AdventureQuest Worlds has Yokai Island, which is explicitly based on Japan, but celebrates Lunar New Year in an obvious Chinese style.
  • In Anno 1701 there is a foreign culture called "The Asians" that only has one city. However, the leader is named Liang Wu (a Chinese name) and the cities always have Chinese names. The architecture is mostly Chinese, and the ships used in The Sunken Dragon are Chinese Junks. However, in Mission 9 of the Sunken Dragons, Ramirez, the pirate captain mentions the Asians eating Sushi, which is Japanese. In The Sunken Dragon, they worship the Fire Dragon, but Buddha statues are common in their holy city.
  • Alice: Madness Returns has a chapter set in the "Oriental Grove" or the "Mysterious East", where you'll find Chinese mahjong tiles, Japanese fans, silk, "Samurai" and "Daimyo", fine porcelain, and everything that a 19th century English person would have considered "exotic" and "Asian". The mash-up is deliberate, as the world is created out of Alice's own experiences and knowledge.
  • Koei's Crimson Sea and its sequel are set in a sci-fantasy future which mishmashes Chinese and Japanese elements in terms of costume and weapon design. The main character is virtually a Wuxia hero with a plasma shotgun.
  • Dark Souls features a foreign region referred as Far East, which appears to be a combination of Chinese and Japanese culture. Shiva of The East, one of the Forest Guards, borrowed the name of a Hindu god and was voiced by a Chinese voice actor.note 
  • Fallout 3's Operation: Anchorage DLC takes place in a VR simulation of the reclamation of Alaska from the Chinese Communists, but they also have futuristic ninjas (complete with stealth camouflage suits) wielding katana-style swords, and their commander can be talked into committing seppuku at the end. Note that an actual Japanese samurai, wielding a katana and donning Japanese armor, makes an appearance in Mothership Zeta as an alien abductee. One character repeatedly refers to him as "Chinaman" until another corrects him.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has the Eastwatch, whose party members' names were Japanese.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has a region known outright as the Far East, which comprises the continent of Othard and the archipelago of Hingashi. The former is home to the region of Yanxia, and within it the kingdom of Doma, which are culturally Japanese with samurai and ninja but take geographical cues from China, as well as the fantasy-Mongolian Azim Steppe. Hingashi, meanwhile, is more shogunate-era Japan as an isolationist, xenophobic island nation.
  • In Guild Wars, the Far East is actually far south, combining elements of several Asian nations and some original ones, with the entire continent of Cantha. Would be a Wutai, except that the Canthan campaign is as large as the original generic fantasy one.
  • Hidden City zigzags this. Taking place in an Urban Fantasy realm that was cut off from the rest of the world due to some Applied Phlebotinum, the Lower City features both Chinese and Japanese-inspired locations. The game, for the most part, does a good job in distinguishing the two areas (which are treated as separate districts, even though they technically exist in the same City), but the daughters of the Chinese Emperor have Japanese names for some reason.
  • The world of Jade Empire mostly avoids this by being about 90% based on Imperial China, with fantasy touches such as magic and gunpowder-propelled rocket planes. However, there are dashes of other Asian cultures thrown in: Some of the hairstyles are more Japanese than Chinese, many of the houses look Thai and Laotian, the protagonist runs like a ninja in Focus Mode, and Silk Fox resembles a (stereotypical) ninja. note 
  • MadWorld: Asian Town, the second area, is brutally lampshaded as being The Theme Park Version of Asia in general. It has ninjas, geishas, sumo wrestlers, and various ways to horribly murder people with fireworks. Lampshaded when the Voice with an Internet Connection Amala points out that the people who designed "Great Wall Street" probably haven't even seen a real Chinatown, let alone Asia. In Anarchy Reigns there is a place called "Hong Long" where there are plenty of Asian styled things. It seems to be styled more after China, and at one point Baron says "it's a motherfucken ninja, straight outta Japan."
  • The Mortal Kombat series' sustained inability to differentiate between Eastern cultures is a great source of amusement for people who actually can. The first movie alone features a Chinese man going back to a monastery supposedly in China but obviously a Thai temple, greeted by monks dressed in Thai robes, and then a Japanese thunder god appears (played by a white man). There is a good explanation for why so many of the ninja in the series are Chinese; despite looking like the modern day ninja archetype, they are part of a Chinese assassin cult known as the "Lin Kuei", which is explained as having been the progenitor of ninjas in Japan (such as Scorpion's Shirai Ryu clan). Bonus points for the Lin Kuei actually being real. Though, despite superficial similarities they probably had very little to do with Japanese ninja, nor were they mercenaries, just a badass survivalist sect that happened to teach some no holds barred self-defence and had a penchant' for stealth and forest-dwelling. As in the games, they had a habit of abducting children from other villages to refresh their numbers, but they were more like highly-trained warrior bandits or even Chinese Native Americans than shinobi when its all said and done. Also, they never called themselves Lin Kuei; thats just the name outsiders gave to them. They still exist, but only as a small group dedicated to simply keeping the art alive (minus the child-abducting bandit stuff, of course).
  • The Neopets online game has an area known as Shenkuu, which is basically based around this trope.
  • Shadow Warrior (1997) is set in a mishmash of Chinese and Japanese culture — starting with player character Lo Wang, a Japanese, katana-wielding ninja with a Chinese name.
  • The land of Yafutoma in Skies of Arcadia, while mostly Japanese, has a number of Chinese influences as well, including a floating Great Wall.
  • The Tengai Makyo games operate on this trope: Japan through the eyes of a 19th century American.
  • Occurs to a limited degree in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, in which there are a few statues of Buddhist gods in Hindu temples where they don't belong. (There is at least one variant of Hinduism that claims Buddha (as in, Siddharta Gautama) was an avatar of Vishnu, but that's probably not it.) Other than that, though, strikingly averted, going so far as to have dialogue in the correct Tibetan dialect and accent for the region.
  • In-universe example in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines when you are sent an email asking you to undertake a quest at Kamakazi Zen in Chinatown. Your contact doesn't know why it's got a Japanese name either (and it's spelled incorrectly).
  • Happened in Warcraft III when the designers created a race of panda-people whose culture and style of dress was overtly Japanese. When Chinese fans objected to having their national animal depicted as "Japanese", the pandas were re-designed to be more Chinese and less Japanese. As a result, the far south continent of Pandaria in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is explicitly Chinese-inspired. World of Warcraft also has the Centaurs, who are based on the Mongols and call their leaders Khans, wear fur-lined conical helmets, travel in nomadic hordes, and live in tent villages.
  • Wizard101 plays this straight in the world of Mooshu. The sister game Pirate101 downplays this by dividing Mooshu into a mostly Chinese half and a mostly Japanese half, with the cultures blending together in between.

  • The Order of the Stick's Azure City is blatantly Japan-inspired, but they also worship the Twelve Gods, the animals of the Chinese zodiac. The prequel books reveal that it was once part of a vast empire that absorbed a number of different cultures and ethnic groups, making it a counterpart to East Asia. In addition, many of the names of the people there are Asian-esque names, such as O-Chul (Korean), Zhou Bo (Chinese), Ho Thanh (Vietnamese) and Saha Kapoor (Indian). Pointed out and parodied in this strip.
    Miko: What is this Japan you speak of? I have never heard of it before.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender plays with this. Although the entire planet is a mish-mash of Asian cultures, each actual nation is largely based off of a single culture, or the cultures of a few culturally and geographically similar countries. It's all actually very logically done.
  • The Legend of Korra (the Sequel Series to the above-mentioned Avatar) puts a twist on all this by updating the setting to its equivalent of The Roaring '20s. Furthermore, Republic City presents a justified version of this trope by being a melting pot metropolis, complete with "Little Italy"-style ethnic enclaves.
  • Parodied on an episode of Catscratch, where neither Mr. Blik nor Gordon can apparently tell the difference between China and Japan, in spite of claiming to have always wanted to visit China.
    Mr. Blik: Soon enough I will fulfill my dream of going to China. Land of the geisha.
    Waffle: That's Japan.
    Mr. Blik: Land of miso soup.
    Waffle: That's Japan.
    Mr. Blik: Land of cherry trees.
    Waffle: ...That's still Japan.
    Mr. Blik: Ah, China.
  • King of the Hill
    • Hank's new neighbor Kahn goes to some length to explain that he's Laotian, as in "from Laos." Hank and his buddies aren't sure whether that means he's Chinese or Japanese.
    • Amazingly, of all people, Cotton gets his ethnicity right. This may have something to do with the fact that Cotton served in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, and thus had some actual exposure to the peoples of the region. Also, in a later episode, Kahn tries to earn membership to an Asian-American country club, but needs to get Hank to join as well (the club is looking for a "token white guy" in order to deflect accusations of racism). At one point, Hank asks Kahn to translate what a few of the members are saying, with Kahn responding "They're speaking Chinese. Do I look Chinese to you?!" Hank just stares back with a poker face.

    Real Life 
  • By the same token, how many local TV stations called their weekly showings of old kung fu movies something like "Samurai Theater"? More generally, it's common in Western speech to refer to eastern martial arts as either "karate" or "kung fu" regardless of what it is.
  • Many Asian-Americans work in restaurants based on countries they have no relation to - e.g. sushi restaurants staffed entirely by Chinese - relying on the average customer's inability to notice the difference. Better yet, the practice of restaurants offering a random variety of foods with varying or dubious Asian origins, especially in smaller towns. It's not uncommon, though somewhat jarring, to visit a Chinese buffet with sushi on the menu. Some places have the good sense to identify themselves as "Asian/Pan-Asian restaurants," but most do not. Wikipedia has an article about it.
  • In Europe, that happened/happens mostly when the local people already thought a certain dish was Chinese (because it was Asian) and the Chinese/Taiwanese immigrants who set up restaurants basically went 'Sure, why not?'. In the Netherlands for instance, most of the dishes they consider Chinese are actually Indonesian. Some of these "Indonesian" dishes were created by enterprising Chinese setting up shop and adapting to the local ingredients and customer base. Wikipedia has an interesting article on this as well.
  • An odd expansion of this trope can be found in the term "Pacific Rim", used (mostly in the western United States) as a sort of code for generic Asian. Thus a "Pacific Rim Festival" will offer foods, crafts, entertainment and whatnot from a wide range of Asian (and, to be fair, Polynesian) cultures, many of them quite far from the Pacific Ocean (one may well find Indian dishes being offered), while utterly ignoring the fact that the actual region also encompasses such places as eastern Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico and the western parts of Canada and the US. The film of the same name averted that exclusion; the main cast includes Japanese, American, Russian, Chinese, and Australian pilots. The supplementary material manages to catch most of the other Pacific cultures. The only two characters in the cast who are not from the Pacific Rim are a pair of European scientists, there in a purely advisory capacity.
  • There's an important immigrant Asian community in Chile, almost all of them Chinese and Korean, and they are a very unified community which adds to the confusion of the average Chilean who can't see the difference. For example, a shopping center owned by Korean and Chinese families is named after the street where is located, but everyone knows it as the "Chinese Mall", so they display that name in the billboard.
  • There is also a Separated by a Common Language thing going on here: even in the highwater days of the British Empire, Britain's imperial reach never went much further than the Indian subcontinent (with the exception of Hong Kong and some scattered Pacific islands). for the United States, its dealings with Asia went west through its Pacific seaboard. Therefore expect confusion between Americans and Brits when the word "Asian" is used. For the UK, it means South Asians onlynote  and in some rare informal context West Asiansnote . To Americans, it denotes the cultures immediately on the other side of the Pacific. British people, particularly of an older generation, might use a portmanteau expression like "Oriental" or "Far Eastern" to denote what Americans call "Asian". Same way American use the terms "Middle Eastern" and "Desi" for West Asians and South Asians respectively. This is slowly fading out and modern usage now tends to differentiate by nationality for Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, et c. But never "Asian", which connotates the South Asians Brits are more familiar with - and here, both sides do the same thing and tend to mash all those separate cultures, ethnicities, religions and societies up into an all-purpose "Asian". "Indian food", for instance, is a mish-mash of different cuisines from Nepal to Sri Lanka, for pretty much the same commercial reasons detailed above. British Asian people tend to call people out on this. A lot.