Asian culture is unique. From the different New Years to water festivals and zodiacs, there is so much to discover.
There is no doubt that Asia is a continent where cultural wealth is abundant. And it is this same diversity that fascinates millions of people around the world. It is therefore no wonder that many have used Asia as a source of inspiration to stimulate their creativity. In fact, various forms of entertainment have adopted Asian themes simply because they are visually appealing and pleasing. From architecture, literature, cuisine, traditional music and performing arts – even the online casino industry has drawn inspiration from this melting pot.
1. Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world
In Asia, more than 2300 languages are recognized. But the most widely spoken language on the continent and globally, with 918 million native speakers, is Mandarin Chinese.
It is the official language of China, Taiwan and Singapore, while it is also spoken in Malaysia, Macau and Hong Kong.
2. There has never been a McDonald’s in Cambodia
Sounds pretty strange, no, but it’s true! We’re not exactly sure why you can’t find a Big Mac in a mall, but rumor has it that it could be because the owners of Burger King and KFC aren’t too keen on the competition. In other Southeast Asian countries, finding the golden arch on every corner can be a little more difficult than in the United States.
3. South Korea has a day to celebrate singles
In South Korea, Valentine’s Day (February 14) is celebrated with a slight difference from Westerners – women usually give men chocolate on Valentine’s Day. Then, a month later, White Day is when men return a gift to women.
Calling all single women! Black Day, or Singles Day, on April 14 is a day to honor being single or unattached to someone in a romantic way. It is celebrated by hanging out with friends over a bowl of jajangmyeon, the black noodle dish that gives the day its name.
4. China has all the pandas in the world
Every giant panda you’ve watched on YouTube and ripped off because “it’s too cute” most likely belongs to the People’s Republic of China.
Since pandas are the legal property of China, they can be loaned to other countries and placed in zoos. Standard loan terms include fees of up to US$1 million per year and a requirement that all cubs born are owned by the Chinese government for the duration of the loan.
5. Spot the national anthem on the Singapore $1,000 note
Have you ever read the fine print on Singapore notes? Maybe you got caught for holding a $1,000 bill, so the finer details may have escaped you.
But if you had pulled out your microscope, you might have noticed in Malay the lyrics to Singapore’s national anthem, the “Majulah Singapura,” written in microprint on the back of the $1,000 note.
6. Grass 草 = ‘LOL’ in Japanese Internet slang
In Japanese, if you mean laugh out loud or “LOL”, you use a certain kanji, 草it means grass.
Bear with me. So normally you would use the kanji, 笑 “Wara”, or “laugh” to mean that you are laughing. But, when you want to say “hahaha” or “LOL” via text, you have to type the kanji “Wara” repeatedly.
So people just started typing ‘www’ instead. Then they thought, “hey that looks like blades of grass”. This led netizens to use the kanji “Kusa” 草meaning grass, to symbolize the laughter.
7. Heads are considered sacred and where the spirit resides
In many Asian cultures, the human head is considered the most sacred part of the body. It is therefore a custom not to stroke the head of a child or a Buddha statue. The feet are considered the dirtiest part of the body because they touch the ground and are furthest from the head.
8. Thailand AKA Land of the free
Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country that Europeans did not colonize. And in the Thai language, the name of Thailand is Prathet Thai, which translates to “land of freedom” – quite appropriate.
9. The Man in the Moon, or is it the Rabbit?
You’ve heard of the Man on the Moon, but what about the Rabbit on the Moon?
In East Asia, pareidolia is a moon rabbit or moon hare pounding something with a mortar and pestle.
But what the rabbit does depends on the region and its culture’s interpretation. The Moon Rabbit legend can be seen in China, Japan, India, Korea, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar.
10. Chess was invented in India
Some evidence suggests that the game of chess originated in northern India in the 6th century. The game; Chaturanga, is considered the earliest precursor to modern chess as it included two features that were found in later chess variants.