Cultural Guide to Japan

Jin Kong is a guest research fellow with The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) for the next six months. This fellowship is sponsored by The Mission Continues. Through this fellowship, Kong is researching to gain a better understanding of the populist sentiment towards immigrants in the Cincinnati region. This is one blog of many on his research of immigration and Cincinnati. To learn more about Jin Kong click here


Japanese Culture and History

Japan is a chain of almost 7,000 islands stretching from Siberia in the north to Taiwan in the south. Of these islands, Hokkaido to the north and is the home of the Ainu people. The largest Japanese island is Honshu, the main island. It is slightly larger than Great Britain and is the home of Mt. Fuji—an active volcano at 12,388 ft. The Shikoku island to the south is the ancestral home of Shingon Buddhist Kōbō Daishi (774–835), and the 88 Sacred Temples of Shikoku. Kyushu is the southernmost region bordered by the East China Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east, and stretches along the Ryukyu archipelago out for some 700 miles to the southwest.

The Paleolithic people from the Asian mainland was said to have settled on the islands some 35,000 years ago. About 10,000 years ago, the Jomon hunter-gatherers emerged and are said to be ancestral to the Ainu people. Korean settlers came around 400 BCE and brought with them metal-working, rice, and weaving to Japan.

Japanese recorded history began with the Kofun period (250 CE) and is characterized by burial mounds, ruling warlords, and adoption of many Chinese customs and innovations. Early records of Buddhist monks from China can trace to this period of the Japanese history, but official introduction of Buddhism is date to the Asuka Period in 522 CE by Korean emissary monks.

The first Japanese central government came in the 8th century. Buddhism and Chinese calligraphy flourished with the aristocratic class; Shintoism—a collection of native beliefs and mythology devoted to the worship a multitude of gods (kami), was more popular with the commoners during this period. This period also saw the rise of a uniquely Japanese culture with imperial court artisans, poets, and the emergence of the samurai warrior class.

Shoguns demanded blind loyalty from their samurai and became more powerful over time. They eventually took power in 1185, and ruled Japan in the name of an emperor until 1868. A constitutional monarchy was established thereafter, headed by the Meiji Emperor; and marked the end of the shoguns. Meiji Emperor’s son was chronically ill and this gave opportunity for the country to further democratize.

Japan controlled Korea and northern China during World War I. Emperor Hirohito oversaw Japan’s expansion during World War II. He surrendered at the end of the war and subsequently reigned as Japan became modern industrialized nation. Today, Japan is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with 47 prefectures. It has a civil law system based on the German model and heavily influenced by the Americans.

Japanese People and the Arts

The Japanese people values cooperation, have a strong work ethic, and are polite, calm, and reserved. The Japanese economy is prized for its interlockings and efficiency. In 2016, it was the fourth-largest economy in the world but it has faced repeated recession and slow growth in recent decades. The Japanese mindset centers around their natural environments, from jagged mountains to cascading waterfalls. Their fascination with nature is evident in their spiritual interest in Shinto, the Way of the Gods—a belief that every mountain, stream, tree, or impressive rock has a spirit. These spirits (known as kami) are watchers over human affairs. Confucianism gained popularity in Japan in the 7th century and persisted for centuries (it was the stated ideology during the Tokugawa period in the 17th century).

The Japanese writing system was imported from China. The earliest Japanese texts were written in Classical Chinese; however, the Japanese written language evolved gradually and branched during the 9th Century. Almost all modern written Japanese has a mixture of kanji (Chinese) and kana (Japanese native). Kana is itself two distinct syllabaries: the Hiragana—often seen in poetry, diaries, and novels, became a cursive abbreviation for the kanji (Chinese), used mostly by women as they were excluded from the study of Chinese characters; and the Katakana—used by Buddhist monks as laced mnemonic devices to help bridge the inflections between spoken Chinese and Japanese.

Japanese art styles range from ink painting and calligraphy on silk and paper, to woodblock prints, origami, and more recently manga. The Japanese aesthetics incorporates elements of foreign culture such as China that complemented their preferences. In the 9th century, Japan began to develop indigenous forms of expression and painting is the preferred medium. Japanese ceramics is also well known around the world; and the Japanese prefer to build their homes with natural materials and tends to blend the interior and exterior space to reflect harmony and family character.

Tea

“Chanoyu,” translated literally as “hot water for tea,” refers to the art of preparing and serving tea. Chanoyu is meant to indoctrinate gathering of friends evoking self-awareness, generosity towards others, and a reverence for nature. The tradition was introduced from China in the 12th century by Japanese Buddhists. Its principles include harmony between guests, hosts, nature, and setting; respect and sincerity toward another; spiritually cleanse; and inner peace allowing one to truly share.

Each tea gathering is a once in a lifetime event. Therefore, the sharing of a bowl of tea should be conducted with humble nature and the utmost sincerity.

Immigration to the United States

Since 1639, Japan had maintained a strict isolation policy and emigration out of Japan was strictly controlled. In 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States Navy forced a trade relationship between Japan and the U.S. With this opening up, Japan underwent great transformations. But rapid urbanization and industrialization brought agricultural decline. As the US economy boomed, the lure was difficulty to resist. By the 1880s, Japanese emigration policy relaxed and Japanese immigration into the United States soon followed. The Japanese government even selected emigrants from time to time favoring ambition and good connections.

Between 1886 and 1911, more than 400,000 Japanese immigrated to the United States mostly landed in Hawaii and the West Coast. The Japanese were among the last immigrant groups to come to Ohio. In 1940, only eighteen Japanese were documented as having resided in this state. During World War II, Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps. Some of the internees were eventually allowed to leave and many found employment in Midwestern cities. Some of these migrant Japanese workers returned to the West Coast after the war. The Japanese Americans who remained in Ohio were mostly recent immigrants from Japan; some came here as spouses of American servicemen.

In recent years, many Japanese migrants have settled in Marysville, Ohio, due to the Honda manufacturing plant. According to one census, there are about 800 Japanese in the Cincinnati region. However, the popularity of Japanese food has been growing steadily in Cincinnati including the popular KaZe in OTR.


The blog is in part of the Mission Continues blog series, written by Jin Kong and therefore all words and thoughts are his own and not a reflection of GCWAC.

Culture Guide to Vietnam

Jin Kong is a guest research fellow with The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) for the next six months. This fellowship is sponsored by The Mission Continues. Through this fellowship, Kong is researching to gain a better understanding of the populist sentiment towards immigrants in the Cincinnati region. This is one blog of many on his research of immigration and Cincinnati. To learn more about Jin Kong click here.


History to Present

Human habitation of the now northern Vietnam dates back 500,000 years; primitive agriculture dates back to 7000 BC. The Chinese colonized the region for a better part of Vietnam’s recorded history. There was a brief Vietnamese independence in 40 A.D. led by the Trung Sisters; and another some 900 years later in 938 A.D. But Vietnam again came under China’s control in the early 15th century and once more sought independence by Le Loi’s famous victory over the Chinese in 1428.

Between the Portuguese landing in 1516, the French and Japanese occupations, and the eventual America’s failed war, the Vietnam region was split between the north and the south. Historically it began with Trinh ruling the north and the Nguyen ruling and expanding the south, each aligned with a European colonial opportunist. The division and resentment worsened the anti-colonialism sentiment long held by the Vietnamese people. Eventually, communism became the successful party to lead an anti-colonialism campaign to “liberate” the South, which began in 1959.

After the Vietnam War, United States re-established its diplomatic relationship in 1994 following the lifting of its embargo that had been in place since the 1960s. Vietnam entered the World Trade Organization in 2006 and experienced significant economic growth thereafter; it is now a major tourism destination for many.

Due to the long Chinese influence, the Vietnamese people maintains a traditional family and clan based society. Although heavily influenced by Confucius and its feudal views of male importance, women play the most important role in family life. Moreover, Vietnamese women have long been inspired by the heroics of the Trung Sisters who led the very first independence campaign and won. Vietnam in its modern age has passed a number of laws on marriage and family in order to make family relations equal between men and women. But the time-honored Confucian tradition of “respect for the elderly and love for the children” are maintained and advocated in Vietnamese families.

People, Places, and Celebrations

There are approximately 95 million people in Vietnam; 54 ethnic groups are recognized and the majority group is Kinh (Viet), which constitutes 86% of the country’s population. Vietnamese is the official language but English is favored as a second language. Chinese, French, and various mountain languages are also spoken. By far, the country is Buddhist and majority of the country’s population is between the working age of 25 and 54 (according to the World Factbook).

Vietnam is one of the most densely populated region on earth and perhaps artistically vibrant for this reason. Vietnamese Literature has been developed with a unique multi-identity. Its traditional form takes shape in folklores, tales, humor, as well as Chinese and Vietnamese scripts. Its contemporary literature came to age with the introduction of a Vietnam national language (Quoc Ngu).

Between 1945 and 1975, Vietnamese literature reflected aspiration for peace and independence; today it is much more a call to national identity and progress. The Vietnamese performing arts include popular, classical, and reformed theatre, water puppet, court music and dancing, folk-song, duets, ceremonial songs, etc.

Vietnamese architecture consists of wood, stone, brick and thatch, bamboo and leaves, typically represented in pagodas. Vietnamese architecture is also influenced by European and North American styles. Many famous buildings were built in the classical European style, such as the Presidential Palace, Supreme Court, Hanoi Opera House, and the State Bank of Vietnam. Vietnam architecture was also influenced by the Soviets; for example, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Friendship Cultural Palace, etc.

Vietnamese paintings are traditionally worships and celebratory. Its current artists, on the other hand, attempt to explore global subject matters and new styles of Vietnamese paintings on oil, lacquer and silk. Vietnam also has a long and rich history of hand-crafting ceramics, lacquer, silk, rattan and bamboo.

Most Vietnamese festivals are held during traditional agricultural “leisure times” which are spring and autumn. Many of the major celebratory festivals are commonly found in other Asian countries: e.g., the Lunar New Year and Fall Full-Moon festival. The Lunar New Year is the biggest one among Vietnam’s traditional festivals. During this time, family get together and enjoy traditional food, visit relatives, friends and colleagues and wish them a happy new year.

Vietnamese Cuisine

6a0192ac16c415970d01a3fc34e8eb970b-500wi

People of Vietnam respect the rule of balance and it is evident in their cuisine choices. Vietnamese food typically exhibits five taste elements: spicy, sour, bitter, salty, and sweet; corresponding to five organs: gall bladder, small intestine, large intestine, stomach, and urinary bladder. Vietnam cooking typically select five types of nutrients: powder, water/liquid, minerals, protein, and fat; and it also tries to have five colors: white, green, yellow, red, and black in their dishes. Rice is a dominate component to a meal, and choice protein often include fish, meat, or tofu. Vietnamese food is also well-known for its pickled, steamed, or fresh vegetables; fish sauce, made from fermented fish, is also commonly used.

The North and South Vietnamese food differ much like the way China’s north and south differ in their eating habits. Southern Vietnamese food are often bold, made of fresh ingredients, often with rice, and strong in salt and fish flavors. Northern Vietnamese food are heavily influenced by the Chinese, including the iconic pho (China’s northern cuisine preference include noodles and breads).

Due to its colonial history, Vietnamese food also takes a European spin. For example, Banh mi is a popular modern-day Vietnamese street-food that requires the use of baguettes, which was introduced by the French. But the Vietnamese people make their bread with a mix of rice and wheat flours.

Vietnamese in America

In 2010, Vietnamese was the 4th largest among Asian population groups in the United States. Majority of the Vietnamese immigrants live in California, Texas, Washington, Virginia, Florida, and Massachusetts.

Immigration from Vietnam began as a humanitarian inflow due to the Vietnam War. In recent decades, family based immigration is more common. A 2014 census survey reported 1.3 million Vietnamese immigrants, accounting for 3% of the nation’s total immigrant count. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2014 American Community Surveys).

Vietnamese immigrants generally have higher incomes compared to other foreign- and native-born populations. In 2014, median household income among Vietnamese immigrants was $59,933; and there were less Vietnamese immigrants living in poverty compared to other foreign- and native-born populations.

Vietnamese immigrants mostly came to the United States prior to 2000. Since then, Vietnamese immigration significantly decreased. Today, Ohio is home to estimated 11,000 Vietnamese immigrants. Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio claimed to have resettled more than 10,000 refugees in Cincinnati since the Vietnam War exodus. One census report puts Vietnamese population in Cincinnati to approximately 3,100 (closing-in on the approximately 4,000 Chinese and 3,300 Indian immigrants in Cincinnati).

Along with this increased Vietnamese cultural presence, Cincinnati is now the home of many Vietnamese restaurants including the popular Pho Lang Thang, Quan Hapa, and lunch favorite located in downtown Cincinnati—Saigon Subs and Rolls. The University of Cincinnati has a Vietnamese Student Association claiming 311 members.


The blog is part of the Mission Continues blog series, written by Jin Kong and therefore all words and thoughts are his own and not a reflection of GCWAC.

Chairman’s Letter

To all our esteemed members,

I’ve been recently elected and will have the pleasure and great honor to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce during the 2017-2018 fiscal year. I shall continue to build on the chamber’s success; and with everyone’s help, together we will continue to grow our Chamber’s visibility, involvement, and influence in the Greater Cincinnati economic region.

I would like to thank our Executive Director, Tessa Xuan, and our immediate past Chair, Mr. Jin Kong, Esq., Chairman during 2016-2017, for their services to this Chamber. Under their leadership, our Chamber continued on the path of becoming one of the most active membership-based organizations in our geographic area. Mr. Kong will remain with the Board as Chair Emeritus and will continue to serve as trusted advisor. Ms. Tessa Xuan remains our faithful Executive Director leading our day-to-day operations.

Also, I want to thank Ms. Hui-Pin Sepulveda (Deloitte), Ms. Rhonda Schechter (Frost Brown Todd), Mr. John Guo (Fifth Third Bank) and Mr. Franklin Lim (The Kroger Co.) for their involvement and great work as part of Chamber’s 2016-2017 Executive Team.

Most of you know that 2017 is the year of the Rooster and we will be welcoming in 2018 the year of the Dog. It is traditionally believed that the upcoming Year of the Earth Dog is a good time for lifestyle changes and for the start of new business ventures. We hope you will join us for more good things throughout this new year. Be part of our family as we embark on a new phase for our Chamber: a time where we will focus on our members, their wellbeing, their growth and new relations.

Collaboration is the relentless goal of our Executive Director. Ms. Tessa Xuan sincerely believes that this Chamber needs to work more closely and together with our members as well as help them collaborate with one another. Our future focus is to connect and bridge the gap between Greater China and our region. When people work together everyone benefits: the company, the people, the community.

As Chairman, I will welcome and highlight involvements of our members. I hope to encouraging them to reach out and inform us of their specific needs. I also hope to see more member companies stepping up to contribute time, effort, and resources to build our common business interest between this region and Greater China.

This coming year is an opportunity to fine-tune our programming for the inclusion of all member categories, should they be fortune 500 companies or mom-and-pop noodle shops. I will solicit their input and ideas for bettering our community, bringing all sides together for a stronger regional economic ecosystem. My personal commitment is to help people connect, create and develop relationships. My desire and future focus as the new Chairman will be to expand upon the relations we carved thus far.

With the leadership of our Executive Director, Tessa Xuan, and the help of my fellow Executive Committee Officers, 1st Vice-Chair Ms. Rufan Li (University of Cincinnati), 2nd Vice-Chair Mr. Marvin Cunningham (Long-Stanton Mfg.), Treasurer Mr. Kevin Kahn (K2 Industrial Controls Int’l Ltd.) and Board Secretary Ms. Rhonda Schechter (Frost Brown Todd), I hope to take our great Chamber of Commerce to new levels of excellence and recognition.

Thank you all for being part of our Chamber family.

Sincerely,

Catalin Macarie
Assistant Professor – Educator of Management
Business Essentials, Entrepreneurship & Innovation
Director of Freshmen Experience
Carl H. Lindner College of Business
University of Cincinnati

Enduring immigration perspectives: the “contradictory and impossible”? or a hopeless aspiration?

Jin Kong, Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce Board Chair, has been working at the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) for six months through a fellowship with The Mission Continues. He is looking to “receive a better understanding of the populist sentiment towards immigrants in Cincinnati.” Through this research, Kong will be sharing weekly blog posts through GCWAC’s website on Chinese culture in Cincinnati. Click here to read more of his blogs.

The word “immigration” comes from the Latin verb “immigrare” and is generally used to mean coming into a place for the purpose of permanent residence. Philosophically, we are all “immigrare’s” of some sort; and conceptually, “immigration” is not in itself controversial.

But it becomes a contentious topic when compounded with the complexities of human creations—for example, racial or religious prejudices. To best put it,

“We demand the contradictory and impossible. We desire [immigrants] to be excluded because of our own prejudices and admitted because of our need of the sort of productive energy which they posses, and because we realize that one, if not the chief, of all the glories of this country, is that the asylumship for the unfortunates of practically every race of people on earth.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, Japanese Immigration, June 26, 1920; emphasis added.)   

The topic of immigration (distinguished from the concept) therefore becomes an easily self-serving one. On the one hand, we utilize it to create an “us” versus “them” phenomenon, so that we can easily articulate and justify our fear to our advantage. On the other hand, we utilize it as a contrite method of discussing labor economics at our convenience; we are capitalists, after all.

This playacting on the topic is nothing new. It is easily recognizable today on both sides of the political aisle. It is naive to think this phenomenon does not reach far back into our country’s history, or that it does not permeate to all walks of life. Perhaps naivety is simply my ideological denial, but I find what was old is now new again. The topic‘s self-serving seems evergreen for its worth in political or economic gains.

For example, an 1878 Cincinnati Enquirer editorial piece articulating the immigration problem in California:

“Appeals to Congress for protection are circulating all over the State, and are signed by all except those who profit in some way … the body of this Asiatic death which is weighing down the people of the [California] state and paralyzing every industry of the coast. …  but when the field of labor is full here they will go east and south.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, California’s Curse, Feb 11, 1878).

Another 1880 editorialist’s title simply read:

“Garfield’s Death Warrant – His famous letter advocating an extended Chinese immigration, he declares himself adverse to the laboring man’s interest and is favor of the employer’s union, advising them to employ the cheapest labor available.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, October 23, 1880; it should be noted that James Garfield, a Ohio native, was elected the 20th President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1881 until his assassination later that year.)   

And one from 1911 reads:

“Limiting the number of new comers permitted to land during a year from certain specific countries believed to send undesirable materials … they insist that there is a scarcity of labor in this country …. The objection made by some that as things are going the country will become Roman Catholic [are regarded] as cowardly and narrow in a land of religious tolerance and freedom …” (Cincinnati Enquirer Immigration Consideration, January 29, 1911).

Finally, the topic of immigration has also been tagged with the kind of self-serving opinion in the context of post-Civil War African American migrations. (E.g., Cincinnati Enquirer, The Rights of Labor – Negro Immigration, July 16, 1862; South Carolina Now and as She Was, February 17, 1871).

But is this topic strictly limited to being self-serving? Or is there some hope in being the naive:

“To the Members of the Volunteer Associations & other Inhabitants of the Kingdom of Ireland who have lately arrived in the City of New York.

Gentlemen …

The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent & respectable Stranger, but the oppressed & persecuted of all Nations & Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights & privileges, if by decency & propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.”

From George Washington to Joshua Holmes, 2 December 1783.

In 1783, George Washington welcomed new Irish immigrants in the City of New York and his remark suggests something important, does it not? 

First, the “opulent and respectable Stranger” as well as the “oppressed & persecuted of all Nations & Religions” are equally entitled to participate in “all our rights & privileges” set forth in the Constitution. Second, this entitlement of participation is condition upon the participant’s “decency and propriety of conduct” that merit the enjoyment of such equal protection and opportunity.  

Immigration to the United States has never been just about humanitarianism, politics, or economics. This country is not a place where the road is paved with gold and our democratic republic is not just about handing out its preciousness to all who walk upon its streets. Perhaps immigration is an aspiration of a national strategy—a call to participate in the constitutional experiment as we know it; and in such an experiment, it is important to remember that we are great together not by asking what we shall receive, but what we can do to contribute.

In the famous words of the good who died young:

“My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

So while this country’s immigration history may prove to be self-serving at times; its founding principles may be worth saving, at least for a naive immigrant such as myself.  

Jin Kong is a fellow through Mission Continues working with GCWAC. Original articles found here.

The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) is a 501(c)(3) international non-profit organization that builds global understanding and promotes international awareness through education, information, and exchange of people and ideas. We work in cooperation with the government, companies, as well as cultural and educational bodies. CLICK HERE for more information.

The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. Their operations in cities across the country deploy veteran volunteers alongside non-profit partners and community leaders to solve some of the most challenging issues facing our communities: improving community education resources, eliminating food deserts, mentoring at-risk youth and more. Through this unique model, veterans build new skills and networks that help them successfully reintegrate into life after the military while making long-term, sustainable transformations in communities and inspiring future generations to serve. CLICK HERE for more information.

A Cultural Guide to China and the Cincinnati Chinese Community – Part 2

Week 5 – World Affairs Council Cultural Guides

Jin Kong, Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce Board Chair, has been working at the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) for six months through a fellowship with The Mission Continues. He is looking to “receive a better understanding of the populist sentiment towards immigrants in Cincinnati.” Through this research, Kong will be sharing weekly blog posts through GCWAC’s website on Chinese culture in Cincinnati. Click here to read more of his blogs.

China – Part 2 – A Cultural Guide to China and the Cincinnati Chinese Community

Language and Culture

China has over 1.3 billion people representing 56 ethnic minority groups. The largest is the Han Chinese with about 900 million people. There are five legal religions in China: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. Confucianism is technically not considered a religion but a state sponsored philosophy. However, it does take on some religious characteristics.

There are seven major dialects of the Chinese language. The most spoken is Mandarin. Wu is spoken by about 8% of the population followed by Cantonese with 5% of the population speaking it. The lesser known dialects are: Xiang (spoken by 5% of the population), Hakka (4%), and Gan (2%).

Cincinnati is the home to many Chinese who speak different dialects. Most of the Chinese that immigrated to Cincinnati before the early 1990’s are from Taiwan or Hong Kong or other southern regions of China. They mostly speak Hakka or Cantonese. After 1990, a rush of “Mainlanders” came to Cincinnati from China. They mostly speak Mandarin. There is no census data on what ethnic groups comprise of the Chinese population here in Cincinnati.

Food

Food is important to the Chinese. Despite what you see in the United State, Chinese food is as diverse as China’s language and customs. There are eight major regional cuisine styles: Yue, Chuan, Su, Zhe, Min, Ziang, Hui, and Lu.

Yue Cuisine originates from the Guangdong/Canton region. It is the most popular internationally. It is commonly sweeter favoring braising and stewing.

Chuan Cuisine originates from the Sichuan region and is famous for being spicy and bold. Chuan Cuisine is known to use a lot of garlic, ginger, and peanuts.

Su Cuisine originates from the Jiangsu province and Shanghai. It’s usually fresh, salty and sweet. It is known for the precision of cooking methods favoring seafood, soup, and colorful presentation. It is known to be refined and gourmet.

Zhe Cuisine originates from Zhejiang (south of Jiangsu). It is mellow using fresh fish, bamboo, and various cooking methods. It is similar to Su Cuisine but less elaborate.

Min Cuisine originates from Fujian. It is known to be lighter with sweet and sour taste using ingredients from the sea and the mountains.

Xiang Cuisine originates from Hunan. It is probably spicier than Chuan Cuisine. But unlike Chuan, Xiang Cuisine does not peppercorn so it is not a numbing spiciness. The techniques of Xiang Cuisine usually involve stir-fry, steaming, and smoking.

Hui Cuisine originates from Anhui. It tends to use wild plants and animals for ingredients favoring stewing and using more oil.

Lu Cuisine originates from Shangdong and is a northern style of cooking. Seafood is a favorite and often cooked with simple ingredients. Unlike southern Chinese food, northern cooking usually involves less rice and more wheat-based food such as noodles. Lu Cuisine also is known for its use of vinegar.

Cincinnati is the home of many Chinese restaurants. The earliest record of a Chinese restaurateur is probably Mr. Wong Yie. Mr. Wong Yie began with a small café on Walnut Street sometimes in the 1910’s. He opened his full-size restaurant and ballroom on the northwest corner of Sixth and Main in 1921. (“ORIENT IS VISUALIZED: By Guests at Opening of Chinese Restaurant and Ballroom.” Cincinnati Enquirer, Nov 15, 1921).

Today, Cincinnatians can taste Yue Cuisine in most Chinese restaurants, albeit much Americanized. There are a few well-known Chuan Cuisine places most notably Sichuan Chili next to Cam Market on Reading Road. The head chef at Sichuan Chili, Zhao, is a native to Sichuan. He began cooking at age 15 and has served as head chef of restaurants in Sichuan, Beijing, and Chicago.

China is also famous for noodles. Over the centuries, many different styles of noodles developed in China. One notable style is called “La” (pulling). Noodles are made by pulling, stretching, and folding dough repeatedly until it becomes very thin. You can try this type of noodle at the Fortune Noodle House in Clifton. They are also set up so you can actually see the chef “pull” these noodles.

The Arts

The ancient Chinese are avid writers and philosophers. There is a rich history of literary work in China most famously the “Four Major Works” – Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, Journey to the West, and Dream of the Red Chamber.

The Chinese also pay attention to the development of both body and mind in its artistic endeavors. Kung Fu is developed not only as a self-defense technique, but also a way to advance the mind and the spirit.

Chines musical instruments are classified into eight categories: silk, bamboo, wood, stone, metal, clay, gourd, and skin. The Chinese Opera is a popular form of entertainment. It is often high-pitched and tells of famous stories that children learn from a young age. The styles of opera are many and characters of an operate are usually marked by painted faces.

Authentic Chinese music is making an appearance in Cincinnati. The Greater Cincinnati Chinese Music Society has been putting on annual performances to introduce Cincinnatians to traditional Chinese music and instruments. This year’s (2017) concert presented a Kun Qu Opera, “the crown jewel of hundreds of local Chinese operas with a rich history of over 600 years.” The concert also featured an Er Hu player Lu Yiwen and a Dizi player Wan Junkan. They performed alongside CCM Philharmonia orchestra directed by Maestro Mark Gibson.

Celebrations

The major celebration of the Chinese is its lunar new year, or The Spring Festival. It usually falls between January and February depending on the lunar calendar. It is a 15-day celebration marked by family gatherings, food preparations, fireworks, and customs and traditions such as dragon dance and paper lanterns.

Chinese New Year celebrations have been a long tradition in Cincinnati. The earliest record dates back to 1894. The Cincinnati Enquirer editorial noted Sam Kee’s laundry closing down for the lunar new year and celebrating with close to 30 Chinese living in Cincinnati at the time. (“’SUN NIN,’: The Chinese New-Year’s Day, Celebrated By Cincinnati Celestials with Much Ecla.” Cincinnati Enquirer, Feb 6, 1894).

In 1921, Mr. Wong Yie celebrated Chinese New Year with some 500 Cincinnatians with some notable judges and city council members. The Postmaster gave the celebrating toast. (“RARE FEAST IS SERVED: By Wong Yie, Chinese Restaurateur, To Host of Friends.” Cincinnati Enquirer, Jan 4, 1921).

Today, there are many Chinese lunar new year celebrations in Cincinnati. Most large companies (e.g., 5/3 Bank) have their own Employee Resource Groups and they host new year banquets. Additionally, the Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce hosts a new year celebration each year and many Cincinnatians have been in attendance in the past.

Jin Kong is a fellow through Mission Continues working with GCWAC. Original articles found here.

The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) is a 501(c)(3) international non-profit organization that builds global understanding and promotes international awareness through education, information, and exchange of people and ideas. We work in cooperation with the government, companies, as well as cultural and educational bodies. CLICK HERE for more information.

The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. Their operations in cities across the country deploy veteran volunteers alongside non-profit partners and community leaders to solve some of the most challenging issues facing our communities: improving community education resources, eliminating food deserts, mentoring at-risk youth and more. Through this unique model, veterans build new skills and networks that help them successfully reintegrate into life after the military while making long-term, sustainable transformations in communities and inspiring future generations to serve. CLICK HERE for more information.

A Historical Guide to China and Chinese Immigration to Cincinnati

Week 4 – World Affairs Council Cultural Guides

Jin Kong, Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce Board Chair, has been working at the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) for six months through a fellowship with The Mission Continues. He is looking to “receive a better understanding of the populist sentiment towards immigrants in Cincinnati.” Through this research, Kong will be sharing weekly blog posts through GCWAC’s website on Chinese culture in Cincinnati. Click here to read more of his blogs.

China – Part 1 – A Historical Guide to China and Chinese Immigration to Cincinnati

Terracotta

China’s recorded history began some four-thousand years ago. Three dynasties preceded the unification of China in 221 BCE: Xia (2070 BCE), Shang (1600 BCE), Zhou (1046 BCE). The Zhou period is a time of flourishing civilization. The writing was codified and ironwork became more sophisticated. China saw the rise of philosophers such as Confucius and Lao-Zi (Taoism) in this period.

During the mid-Zhou dynasty, power was decentralized and China entered what is known as the “Spring and Autumn Waring Period” (722-221 BCE). Sun-Zi and The Art of War emerged during this time. China was fractured into seven kingdoms. In 221 BCE, the Kingdom of Qin subdued the other six and proclaimed its king, Ying Zheng, the First Emperor of China – “Qin ShiHuang.”

During Qin ShiHuang’s reign, writing and measurements were unified under a single system; government rule was centralized; trade was made easier by uniformed currency and standardized width of cart-wheels. Qin-ShiHuang was also famous for building the first section of The Great Wall of China and his “Terracotta Army” which accompanied him to his tomb.

Many dynasties followed Qin. Most notably the Tang Dynasty, which was known as China’s golden age (618-907 AD); the Song Dynasty, which saw great scientific and technological advancements (960-1279 AD); and Ming Dynasty, which saw the completion of the Great Wall and the Forbidden City (1368-1644 AD). The last dynasty of China, (Qing) was ruled by the Manchus and ended in 1911. The Qing dynasty was succeeded by China’s modern republic age and eventually saw the rise of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

During the Qing dynasty (in 1868), the United States and China entered into the Burlingame Treaty. This treaty established a formal relationship between the two countries. China was granted “most favored nation” status and immigration were encouraged. The first wave of Chinese immigrants arrived in the United States between the 1850s to 1880s. They mostly settled along the coasts (in California or New York). Most Chinese immigrants were labors working to build railroads.

In the 1870s, there were repeated efforts to limit Chinese immigration to the United States. The Fifteen Passenger Bill of 1879 limited the number of Chinese passengers to 15 in any single voyage to the United States. President Rutherford B. Hayes vetoed the bill because it violated the terms of the Burlingame Treaty.

Chinese Exclusion

Following the veto, President Hayes sent James Burrill Angell to China and he successfully negotiated a new treaty allowing restrictions on Chinese immigration. Following the Angell Treaty of 1880 was the passage of the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This Act was not repealed until 1943 under the Magnuson Act. Following the repeal, the second wave of Chinese immigrants to the US began from the late 1970s to the present.

The first Chinese migrants in Ohio were mostly descendants of Chinese immigrants who had settled on the West Coast. A majority of them moved to northeastern Ohio (Cleveland area). Some came to Cincinnati and made this region their home. According to a local new paper report of the Census Bureau account, there were 17 Chinese living in Cincinnati in 1910 (“SEVENTEEN CHINESE: And Seven Japanese Lived in Cincinnati in 1910, Report Says.” SPECIAL DISPATCH TO THE ENQUIRER, Nov 28, 1914). However, as early as 1894, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Chinese New Year Celebration by about 30 Chinese men led by a laundry shop owner Sam Kee (“‘SUN NIN,’: The Chinese New-Year’s Day, Celebrated By Cincinnati Celestials with Much Eclat.” Cincinnati Enquirer, Feb 6, 1894). In 1876, the first Chinese American reportedly voted in Cincinnati. (“The First Chinese Voter.” Cincinnati Enquirer, Apr 4, 1876). In 1912, the Enquirer reported the first woman and child immigrant moving to Cincinnati (“CHINESE: Wife and Child Coming To Take Up Their Residence in Cincinnati – Similar Distinction May Be Given Covington.” Cincinnati Enquirer, Sep 26, 1912). In 1914, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported  the first Chinese Baby born here to Mr. and Mrs. Wong Yie at their Vine Street restaurant (“CHINESE BABY, First To Be Born in Cincinnati, Is Christened Wong Gut Ting in Fathers Home.” Cincinnati Enquirer, Jun 8, 1914).

Today, thousands of Chinese descendants call the Greater Cincinnati region their home. Thousands more immigrate to Cincinnati to work or attend school. There are more than a dozen active Chinese community organizations in this region doing all sorts of charitable work. Most notably, the Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Cincinnati Chinese Society, the Chinese American Association of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Chinese Church, and the Cincinnati Chinese Culture Learning Association.

Jin Kong is a fellow through Mission Continues working with GCWAC. Original articles found here.

The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) is a 501(c)(3) international non-profit organization that builds global understanding and promotes international awareness through education, information, and exchange of people and ideas. We work in cooperation with the government, companies, as well as cultural and educational bodies. CLICK HERE for more information.

The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. Their operations in cities across the country deploy veteran volunteers alongside non-profit partners and community leaders to solve some of the most challenging issues facing our communities: improving community education resources, eliminating food deserts, mentoring at-risk youth and more. Through this unique model, veterans build new skills and networks that help them successfully reintegrate into life after the military while making long-term, sustainable transformations in communities and inspiring future generations to serve. CLICK HERE for more information.