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.
The landscape of the Fire Nation is composed from elements from several different regions/countries: Iceland, South East Asia, Mesoamerica and Japan.
Iceland Ever wondered why the Fire Nation doesn’t look lush and tropical?
Iceland was also the model for most of the Fire Nation’s volcanic landscape:
BRYAN: … I wanted to go somewhere that would serve as a model for designing the Fire Nation’s volcanic landscape. I ended up fulfilling a lifelong dream and visited Iceland … the landscape was raw, rugged, and violent, with a terrible beauty that perfectly encapsulated what I had in mind for Zuko’s turbulent homeland. I shot thousands of photos and edited them down for the background designers and painters … all these efforts helped us to give the Fire Nation a distinct geological flavor separate from every other locale we had seen in the Avatar world. (Art Book, page 132)
Thailand and South East Asia
There are a few times when the Fire Nation appears tropical. Mainly on Ember Island and the Sun Warriors’ Island.
Ember Island’s landscape and architecture, especially the beach (minus the black sand) is strongly influenced by Thailand.
☾– The man was useless, his mind empty, spare for a FATIGUE brought on by the monotonous lifestyle he was forced to live. Once, seemingly so long ago, he was an intellectual asset to the Fire Nation. Originally born in Ba Sing Se, Dipper had been taken as an apprentice to an innovative military inventor by unfortunate chance, and found himself working against people he once loved. Because of his intelligence, he aided in the creation of weaponry, but this elusive work got the young adolescent to challenge Fire Nation authority, soon locking him away in an insane asylum for ‘conspiracy theories’. The war continued without him, and as it gradually deteriorated the ONCE great nation, Dipper had not left the inner walls of the asylum. As the hushed rumors of a royal joining them became a jarring reality, Dipper found himself intrigued rather than displaced, finding a brief window of time to talk to someone he once (albeit unknowingly) worked under. –☽