The Chinese civilization was a much older civilization than the Japanese civilization. The Chinese and the Japanese had cultural and commercial relations that date back to 200 A.D. Chinese culture flowed out of China and into Japan to influence Japanese culture in several waves. The degree to which the Japanese adopted Chinese cultural influences depended on the receptivity of the latter at that particular historical juncture. Chinese influence on Japanese culture is readily apparent.
Some of these influences are:
- Language. The Japanese had no written language at the time of their first contact with the Chinese and their use of Chinese proved important for the purpose of political unification under the Japanese Emperor.
- Religion. Buddhism and Confucianism are important features of Chinese culture. As a systematic belief system, Buddhism forced the local Japanese religions, which were less coherent systems, to define themselves in relation to Buddhism. Confucianism, a systematic religious belief system, had a lot to say about governance and society and proved attractive for the Japanese. Consequently it had an important influence on Japanese culture.
- System of government. The method of organization of the Imperial Court, a significant element of ancient Chinese culture, was also adopted by the Japanese. The Japanese Imperial Court as well as its bureaucracy, including titles, ranks and functions, soon came to be modeled after Confucian principles. City-planning is also an aspect of Chinese culture borrowed by the Japanese. Kyoto and Nara, capital cities constructed along these lines, are examples. Several localities around these old capital cities reveal a system of fields and irrigation systems divided into even rectangles based on the ancient Chinese model of city planning. The use of a road system to hasten communication and control rebelling localities are also important features of this system of planning.