Buddhism And Confucian Influence On Japan

Good Essays
Currently, Japan is often known for having a very distinct culture, cultivated due to their relative isolation as an Island country. Indeed, many people reference the Tokugawa Edicts as the reason for this perception. However, while Japanese civilization is certainly a highly distinctive society, it also has strong ties to Chinese culture that began long before the Tokugawa era. In fact, as early as the first century A.D., the people of Japan were sending missions to China; they established a trade and tribute based relationship. This initial relationship gave way to the later Chinese influence that would shape Japan. From these encounters, the Japanese extended this influence to art, literature, and even government. Eventually, these influences…show more content…
“The period of disunion in China [during the T’ang Dynasty] produced conditions favorable to the spread of Buddhism”(Varley 19). Buddhism would become a crucial component of the early Sinification project in Japan. Buddhist traditions and texts were kept in Chinese, so Buddhist monks and scholars were required to study Chinese. Additionally, many Buddhist works of art were brought to Japan for religious ceremonies and rituals. These artworks would later influence Japanese art. In addition to Buddhism, Confucianism emerged from China and quickly spread throughout Japan. More of a philosophy than a religion, Confucianism teaches people the proper way to behave in a society. For example, Confucianism added a hierarchy to Japanese society, including the five main relationships and particularly filial piety. This social hierarchy based on Confucianism also made way for a Chinese-based governmental structure (Varley…show more content…
During the reign of Emperor Saga, Chinese poetry was tremendously popular in Japanese society. In addition to Chinese poetry, Chinese fashion, books, and works of art, many of them introduced by the scholar Kukai, became prevalent in high Japanese society. Indeed, “Kukai…returned not only with many books and works of art, but also with knowledge of the latest Chinese fashions” (Varley 56). Furthermore, many Buddhist monks brought Chinese works of art to Japan for use in rituals, and these works of art highly influenced the painting styles of Japanese artists. Eventually, Japan had created their own fine arts culture that was an altered form of the Chinese arts. According to Varley, “a contemporary observer might well have judges, from the preferences of such luminaries at court as Saga and Kukai, that Japan of the early ninth century had indeed become a miniature model of China.” (Varley
Get Access