The Influence Of Chinese Culture On Japanese Culture

There have been relations between Chinese and Japanese cultures for nearly 2,000 years, and the influences of that connection are still seen today. As the older and more sophisticated of the two civilizations, Chinese culture had an enormous impact on nearly all aspects of life in Japan. You can see the influence of Chinese culture on Japanese culture in so many ways.

Language

When the two civilizations first met, there was no written Japanese language. So when the cultures met, the Japanese adopted the Chinese script so that communication between the empires was possible. Over the centuries, the styles of writing in both cultures have changed enough that they are now each unique.

Religion

Without an organized religion of their own, there was a strong appeal for both Buddhism and Confucianism when the two cultures met. Though many people in Japan still follow their older Shinto beliefs, there is a large Buddhist following still in Japan today. Even within the native Shinto practice, the art of building permanent shrines and temples came from the Chinese approach to Buddhism.

Government

Though both nations had an Imperial Court form of government in the past, the Japanese Emperor adopted many aspects of the Chinese bureaucracy, including their versions of various titles, ranks and official functions. The first form of their constitution was influenced by the Chinese approach to a more centralized and organized government.

Architecture

As Buddhism came to Japan, so did the practice of building elaborate temples. And with that development, other building began to take on more complex forms with larger rooms and inner courtyards. The classic curved roof style definitely came from Chinese influence, and it is still seen throughout Japan today.

City Planning

The ancient Chinese approach to city planning involved the use of organizing city roadways in regular rectangles for easier navigation and communication, and you can see this concept put into use in Japanese cities like Kyoto and Nara. Even fields and irrigation systems started to use this organized and efficient system.

The Arts

As new artistic styles came with the import of Buddhist monks and temples, the overall art world in Japan took on many Chinese elements over the eras. Painting and sculpture was developed to display Buddhist concepts, and that impacted the overall art scene. Paintings done on fine paper in Chinese ink were very popular during the Nara period, including many forms of decorative scrolls. The practice of calligraphy as an art medium also came to Japan.

Other forms of art including masked drama known as Gigaku came from China, as did the Gagaku Imperial court dancing.

Music

The world of music was heavily influenced by China, partly by the introduction of new styles of music but also by the import of new musical instruments. Different forms of bells, gongs and rattles came to Japan as part of Buddhist ceremonies, and these new sounds soon made their way into the popular music of the time. This is most evident in the Kabuki style of music.

Clothing

Though the kimono seems to be the quintessential Japanese icon, it was inspired by Chinese fashions of the Han period. Ironically, the clothing styles in both nations have been further influenced by the styles of the West so that traditional clothing is becoming less common.

24 thoughts on “The Influence Of Chinese Culture On Japanese Culture

  1. Really helpful information. Also using this for my project and some extre information on Chinese influences in Japan would be so useful!

  2. is this site legitimate because I am using it for a research project and it is a .com site which stands for commercial and therefore can be changed or people can add onto, is there a way I can cross reference this because this information is extremely helpful if it is legit. thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>