It's impossible to understand how others see the world without first examining your own cultural context. It is our culture that shapes who we are. The majority of individuals consider culture to be the shallow exterior aspects such as clothing and certain sports and festivals.

They have no idea how much culture influences our understanding of the world. Culture has an impact on how we perceive life, think about it, and act. Our stories are shaped by the society in which we live, and the society in turn has an impact on what we choose to tell.

All known human societies, from the wealthy industrial West to the tiniest hunter-gatherer groups, tell tales.

According to the evolutionary function of storytelling, it seems to have been primarily used as a vehicle for passing knowledge and cultural norms on to others in order to assist them to learn how to control or restore order in certain circumstances.

In most situations, adults tell tales to youngsters about what is and isn't right with the world, what they should and shouldn't value, and how they should act if they want to be part of society's norms.

Moral lessons, punishments, and rewards are frequently included in stories as a result of this. Stories are formed in accordance with the culture in which they are told, as a result of this.

This is regarded to be a highly effective and vital method that has been instilled in children since their brains are still malleable and developing.

There are many different ways to tell a story, and each culture has its own traditions and styles. Asian storytelling has a long and rich history that spans many different cultures.

Japanese storytelling is known for its structure and styles, Chinese storytelling is known for its oral traditions and role of storytelling, and Korean storytelling is known for its unique performing arts.

In this article, we will explore the art of Japanese storytelling, Chinese storytelling, and Korean Storytelling. We will look at the role of storytelling in these cultures, and discuss some of the most popular storytelling styles.

Finally, we will compare Eastern storytelling to western storytelling traditions, and see how they differ.

Role of Storytelling


Children adore tales. Tales have the ability to construct alternative worlds, emotions, and thoughts, and make the ordinary seem remarkable. They are capable of teaching us empathy and taking us on fantastic trips. They can make us laugh, cry, jump in fright, and then comfort us with a good conclusion.


We learn how to enjoy a story for pleasure and also how to use it to make sense of the world and ourselves from an early age. A great narrative can make language learning more interesting and engaging, allowing Young Learners to enjoy hearing the language in a dynamic, sometimes stylistic, and entertaining way.


Using the right words and phrases can help you understand rhythm and structure. This atmosphere of fun and creative expression generates a desire for additional similar experiences.


The ability to tell stories also aids in the appreciation of intonation and tone of voice, natural-sounding statements, and words, as well as native speaker interaction.


Storytelling is one of humanity's most ancient forms of communication, and consideration has been written in the literature about its effectiveness as a pedagogical tool in teaching language abilities in a first language as well as a foreign or second language.


Furthermore, narrative methods are said to be more successful in language learning than conventional teaching materials such as textbooks.


In conclusion, studies have shown that telling stories is effective in terms of learning outcomes since it is pleasurable, engaging, and extremely memorable to listeners, stimulating learners' interest in listening to tales as well as speaking, writing, and reading about them.

Japanese Storytelling


Storytelling in Japan: the Edo Period (1603–1868), Rakugo, the traditional Japanese art of storytelling, was created as a form of leisure for common folks.


Rakugo (literally, "dropped words") is a type of Yose that is itself a form of Japanese verbal entertainment.


On a raised platform, the single narrator (storyteller, Rakugoka) straddles a kōza. When performing Rakugo, a paper fan (Sensu) and a tiny cloth (Tenugui) are used as props.


The performer sits in the seiza posture without getting up while telling a lengthy and intricate funny (or sometimes sentimental) tale using just these two items. The tale is always told through the conversation of two or more individuals.


The distinctions between the characters are conveyed solely via a change in tone and a modest turn of the head.

Chinese Storytelling


Storytelling in China: The classic Chinese performing art of storytelling without music is known as Pingshu (or Pinghua), which is derived from the Cantonese words pung, meaning "to tell," and Hwa, meaning "story." It's generally referred to as Pingshu in northern China and Pinghua in southern China.


Pingshu was extremely popular in the 1980s when the Chinese people were able to afford radios, through which many such radio drama programs were transmitted to every household.


People, young and old, would stick to the radio when they had the time, listening to these storytellings, many of which originated from ancient Chinese history.


In the countryside, farmers would take radios to their fields and listen to the stories while they were working. In cities, old men would sit in a comfortable bamboo chair enjoying the stories while sipping tea.

Korean Storytelling


P'ansori, the art of storytelling, legitimized oral tradition, music, theater, literature, and folklore in Korea. UNESCO has declared p'ansori in Korea a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage.


P'ansori is the Korean term for a form of talking folk narrative music. It originated during the reign of Sukchong of Joseon, who reigned from 1675 to 1720. The performance began with shaman chants but grew into a depiction of regular customs and daily life.


P’ansori is a solo performance accompanied by a barrel drummer. Songs (sori), narrations (aniri), and gestures (pallim) are used to tell thrilling tales. They also employ a fan and handkerchief as signifiers.


An introductory song is sung before the start of the show as a warm-up exercise by the artist. The drummer and audience join in with calls of encouragement at this time.


Upper-class patrons, who possessed economic and political influence in the second half of the 1800s, had a great deal of control over P'ansori's text and performance.


The authors' preoccupation with ‘proper' P'ansori works and their use of them as reference material helped to improve the content. This, however, was at odds with the interests of lower-class listeners and P'ansori musicians.


Unfortunately, the process resulted in a reduction in P'ansori songs. Confucian censorship was unable to eradicate those parts of P'ansori with filthy and obscene texts and themes.


The ethical ideals derived from Confucian teaching are the major themes of the five remaining traditional P'ansori songs. Loyalty to the king, filial piety to parents, fidelity to husband, brotherhood, and sincerity to friends are some of them.

Eastern Storytelling vs Western Storytelling


Kishōtenketsu describes the structure and development of classic Chinese, Korean and Japanese narratives. The structure originated in China and was called qǐ chéng zhuǎn hé and used in Chinese poetry as a four-line composition, such as Qijue.


From there, it moved to Korea where it is called gi seung jeon gyeol (Hangul: 기승전결; Hanja: 起承轉結). Finally, the art style came to Japan, where it is referred to as kishōtengō (起承転合), from which the English word derives.


The Kishotenketsu plot structure is used in Asian narrative. The introduction (ki), growth (sho), turn (ten), and conclusion (ketsu). Unlike more well-known stories, the conflict act is not included, therefore it needs to be described.


But, if the narrative does not rely on an inciting incident, what propels it forward? To better comprehend it, let's go through each stage in detail.


The introduction (kiku, in Japanese) is the introduction, as the name implies: the characters' presentation and era... you know, the essential elements of your tale.


At this point, the tale comes to life. The events of your story begin to take shape, triggering action.


When things start to get interesting, that's when the story (tenku) takes a turn. The plot has been building up gradually so far. The western audience may anticipate a climactic event to occur, but the twist changes the plot's direction and gives the tale a new perspective.


Is it possible that the twist was caused by a particular event? Yes. However, this is not always the case. The conclusion (ketsu) is the final part of the tale. It usually binds all of the plotlines together.


The three-act structure is commonly recognized by Western storytellers. Aristotle referred to these phases as the beginning, middle, and end. We may also call them crisis phases, struggle phases, and resolution stages.


The Greek hero Odysseus, for example, leaves his home in Ithaca and journeys to the land of the Lotus-eaters, where he overcomes tremendous odds and difficulties before confronting King Polyphemus (often with treasure).


This is a wonderful illustration of how Greek myths represented ancient Greek views on the individual and how he or she can dominate his or her surroundings.


They are the tales of how anybody, as long as they have the bravery and resolve, can accomplish anything if they put their mind to it.


The Three-act structure of Greek drama has been found in Western children's stories and morals since they were very young. Scholarly research has shown that when parents ask youngsters to create a narrative, they typically follow the Greek three-act model subconsciously.

Chinese Storytelling Structure


There are variations of this dramatic structure based on the region due to differences in how the Chinese characters are interpreted per the country and culture. The Chinese interpretation is:


: means start or introduction, usually meaning the reason something started


: meant handling, process, or hardships


: turn, turning point, crescendo


: result.

Japanese Storytelling Structure


The Japanese interpretation of it is:


kiku (起句) is 'ki ()': introduction, where can mean rouse, wake up, get up


shōku (承句) is 'sho ()': development, where can also mean acquiesce, hear, listen to, be informed, receive


tenku (転句) is 'ten ()': twist, where can mean revolve, turn around, change


kekku (結句) is 'ketsu ()': Conclusion, though can also mean result; consequence; outcome; effect; or coming to fruition; bearing fruit

Korean Storytelling Structure


The Korean interpretation is:


: raising issues and introducing characters


: the beginning of the action (But not to solve a problem, necessarily more for self-realization)


: a change in direction or reversal


: the thing to be concluded and any lessons gained through the process or results.

Japanese Storytelling Styles


Meet kamishibai – This ancient Japanese storytelling tool, which many librarians, nursing homes, and schools use across the world, is known as kamishibai.


The street style of storytelling is similar to two Japanese traditions: etoki, the art of picture narration that dates back to the 12th century, and benshi – silent film narrators in the 1900s.


Unlike a picture book, which is intended to be read by an individual, kamishibai is a group activity - a communal experience. Storytellers engage their audience, eliciting reactions and answers from the public.


What is Kyogen Theatre?

Kyogen is a type of traditional Japanese theater that emerged as an intermission and comic relief between the serious noh pieces. The costumes, masks, and props for the kyogen are basic and minimal because it is brief. Nomura Mansai is one of the most popular characters in the series, usually portrayed by male actors. He's also known as "The Man with a Stained Glass Hand."

Chinese Storytelling Traditions


The Chinese culture has a long tradition of storytelling, which has served as an important way for people to communicate and share information about China’s cultural history and identity.


Traditional Chinese storytelling – known as ‘Pingshu’ – comes in various forms, including oral testimony, written forms, drama, and music. Pingshu has been particularly popular in recent years, with many Chinese people enjoying listening to stories that are told in a traditional style.


The popularity of Pingshu has led to a resurgence in interest in Chinese culture and storytelling traditions. This is evident in the growing number of Chinese people who are learning about and sharing Chinese stories with others.


In addition, there has been an increase in the number of books, movies, and TV shows that feature Chinese stories or tell Chinese stories in a modern context. The resurgence of Chinese storytelling is not only helping to preserve Chinese culture and traditions but is also providing people with a new way to connect with their heritage.

Korean Storytelling Traditions


Storytelling traditions vary the world over, but many traditions do have some common factors. One of those characteristics is an oral tradition that is again becoming popular. People are rediscovering the pleasure of telling stories and are using this skill to keep their culture and traditions alive.


Most Korean tradition is P'ansori, a form of Korean narrative singing that is traditionally performed by a single singer. The singer tells a story using a combination of narration, dialogue, and song, usually accompanied by a Korean drum called a janggu.


P'ansori began as a folk art form, but it has become increasingly popular in recent years. Thanks to its unique blend of music and storytelling, P'ansori has captivated audiences both inside and outside of Korea. As more people discover the joy of Korean storytelling, this centuries-old tradition is sure to continue thriving for many years to come.

Asian Storytelling - Conclusion

Asian storytelling is a complex and diverse art form that has been passed down through generations. In Asian cultures, storytelling is often seen as a way to impart wisdom and teach important life lessons.

There are many different types of Asian stories, ranging from folktales to mysteries, and each has its own unique style and flavor. While some Asian stories are lighthearted and playful, others are dark and suspenseful. No matter what the tone or subject matter, Asian stories always contain a deep understanding of the human experience.

Asian storytelling is an important part of the region's cultural heritage, and it is a centuries-old tradition that continues to be enjoyed by people all over the world.