Showing posts tagged The Fire Nation is not Japan

The Buddha Statue in the Fire Sages’ Temple

is Thai style Buddha statue. It’s hands are in the a mudra (gesture) of Leisure and Charity. (source)

Image source: One, two, three, four, five

I made a comparison post of the different Buddha styles used in different countries, but tumblr is refusing to upload the picture. Seriously, I’ve tried for more than FIVE HOURS now. 

<3 imgur!


The Mountain Near Hama’s Village

A lot of the Fire Nation’s landscape is modeled on Iceland. Hama’s village is no exception. The mountain in the background is based on the Herðubreið mountain. (Art Book, p. 147)

Herðubreið (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈhɛrðʏpreiθ], broad-shouldered) is a tuya in north-east Iceland. It is situated in the Highlands of Iceland in the midst of the Ódáðahraundesert and close to Askja volcano. 

Image source: One

The Wall hangings in Li and Lo’s beach house show traditional Thai patterns

This is an amazing Thai Art blog, do check it out! They explain Thai art way better than I ever could :D

This is also really cool: The Thailand National Knowledge Base

Image source: One, two, three

The Swords the Fire Nation guards have are a kind of Chinese broad sword called Dadao

The dadao 大刀; literally “big knife”;  one of the varieties of dao or Chinese saber, is also known as the Chinese great sword.

Based on agricultural knives, dadao have broad blades generally between two and three feet long, long hilts meant for “hand and a half” or two-handed use, and generally a weight-forward balance. Some were made for military use, but they were most commonly associated with civilian militias or revolutionaries. While not a particularly sophisticated sword, the weight and balance of the dadao gave it considerable slashing and chopping power, making it an effective close combat weapon for untrained troops.

Interesting to know:

The dadao was used by Chinese troops in the Second Sino-Japanese War. (WWII)

The Second Sino-Japanese War (July 7, 1937 – September 2, 1945), called so after the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95, was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from 1937 to 1941.

More about Chinese swords: Click me!

Image source: One, two

Ember Island

Enjoy the pretty. This is several screenshots put together.

I already did an entry about how Fire Nation architecture is based a fair bit on Thai architecture: Here.

From ‘The Art of the Animated Series’ (page 25)

Zuko in his most samurai-influenced design, just prior to season one. At the last minute, we went with a more Chinese style for the Fire Nation’s clothes and architecture. Designs by Bryan Konietzko

Fire Nation Clothes: The Thai Influence

Fire Nation fashion/clothes are hugely influenced by traditional Thai clothing. The closer you look the more obvious it becomes. From Thai fisherman’s pants, to Thai wedding dresses, temple dancers etc.

More about the Thai Influences in ATLA: CLICK ME

Image source: One, two, three, four, five

The Hat Katara Wears as the Painted Lady is Called ‘Wei Mao’.

The 帷帽 wei mao style hat was created in the Jin dynasty, the style continued to be worn during the Tang Dynasty, but with a higher, conical top-hat like, hat. Click me for image.

The Jin Dynasty晋朝was a dynasty in Chinese history, lasting between the years 265 and 420 CE. There are two main divisions in the history of the Dynasty, the first being Western Jin (ch: 西晉, 265–316) and the second Eastern Jin (ch: 東晉 317–420). Western Jin was founded by Sima Yan, with its capital at Luoyang, while Eastern Jin was begun by Sima Rui, with its capital at Jiankang. The two periods are also known as Liang Jin (ch: 兩晉 lit, two Jin) and Sima Jin by scholars, to distinguish this dynasty from other dynasties that use the same Chinese character, such as the Later Jin Dynasty (ch: 後晉).

Image source: One, two

I was asked about Zuko’s workout vest:

The shirt/jacket Zuko is wearing is a Tang Zhuang vest with a Mandaring collar and Chinese knot buttons.

Tangzhuang  唐装 refers to the Chinese jacket that originated at the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). Tangzhuang evolved from Magua (马褂), a Manchu clothing, which was in turn adopted by the Han Chinese during Qing Dynasty. At that time, only noblemen, aristocracy and government officials were wearing it, however, in modern times it was eventually adopted by common people.

Image source: One

Fire Nation Origins – What does canon show us? 

The misconception that the Fire Nation is mainly based on Japan, and that Fire Nation Japanese elements make up the majority of the Fire Nation culture, has been around for a while. Since I get asked about this topic several times a week, I have decided to make this a feature. Please note that this post is not about what you do in you fanfic or fanart, which is your own choice, but about what we see in the show.

We are going to take a closer look at the Fire Nation’s language, clothing and armor, geography, political system, architecture, food, hairstyles, names, festivals, traditions, weapons and last, but not least, real world parallels.

Definition of ‘is’. I define ‘is’ in the terms of “The Fire Nation is Japan” to mean more than 50%, or at least the biggest or most influential portion of all influences. If by ‘is’ you mean, in the Sino-centric a:tla universe, the Fire Nation features a few references to Japan; congratulations, I agree with you.



Let’s for the sake of this essay assume that they are not speaking English, that we are just hearing it this way.  Speaking English and writing in Chinese would be odd, to say the least.

We also have to assume that everyone in the A:TLA universe speaks the same language and that there are no distinct accents. No one ever points out an accent in the show, and Katara, Sokka, Toph and Aang pass as unnoticed in the Fire Nation, as Zuko and Uncle do in the Earth Kingdom.


Everyone in the Aang era A:TLA universe communicates in Mandarin, written in traditional characters.

No one writes in Japanese. Chinese characters and Japanese Kanji are not interchangeable. Even though Japanese Kanji originate from Chinese characters, their meaning, pronunciation and writing has changed over the centuries.

Please compare:

Official show title in Japanese: アバター 伝説の少年アン

Official show title in Chinese: 降世神通

And just so that it cannot be argued that the writing I am using as an example was not intended for Fire Nation people, the examples used are from Fire Nation citizens to/for Fire Nation citizens.

Example one: Toph’s wanted poster from season three, episode “The Runaway”:

Toph’s wanted poster is written in Chinese, not Japanese.





極之危險 報訊即賞

Wanted — The Runaway.

Authorities are offering a reward of one-thousand gold coins for the arrest of this twelve year old girl. She is small and disguises herself as blind . (She is) extremely dangerous. Any information (leading to her arrest) will be rewarded.



Example two: Uncle’s letter to Zuko is also written in Chinese.


The Fire Nation’s Sages secret histories are hidden in the Dragon Bone Catacombs.