Today, Japan is considered the country that has developed its distinctive culture, language, and society. However, behind the political, religious, and cultural development of Japan, there is the powerful influence of China. Chinese writing, poetry, bureaucracy, teachings, beliefs, and other useful things were appropriated by the Japanese (Welter & Newmark, 2017). The influence of China during the first millennium CE was the most important in shaping the Japanese culture, as well as its political and religious life.
Japanese-Chinese relations were firmly strengthened in 645 when the Japanese emperor Kotoku came to power. He wanted to reform the state system and economy and took the system of government of the Tang Dynasty as a model. The important elements that came from China at that time were Buddhism, traditions, bureaucracy, architecture, and urban planning (Welter & Newmark, 2017). At this time, the Chinese geopolitical model was adopted as well. Japan was considered the land of the gods, protected from external filth and unrest. The emperor was located in the sacred center of the state and, like in China, was the source of sacred culture.
As for religion, Confucianism in Japan was borrowed from China through Korea and had a significant impact on the formation of statehood. Literacy training took place according to the texts of the Confucian canon. Buddhism, also borrowed from China through Korea, became official in the 6th century (Welter & Newmark, 2017). Most Japanese Buddhist schools are adaptations of Chinese tendencies. The influence of this religion on Japanese culture and its popularity is enormous. Thus, the teachings and practices of the Chinese school of Ch’an Buddhism are known throughout the world in the Japanese version as Zen Buddhism. Unlike in China, Buddhism exerted a significant influence on the government in Japan. The institution of monasticism was used for vertical mobility and as an instrument of political struggle.
Thus, the influence of China on Japan during the first millennium CE had a positive effect on the political and religious development of the country. Borrowings not only did not damage the existing traditions but raised them to a new, higher level. The result of cultural adoptions, as a rule, was the appearance of phenomena that became iconic for Japan. Many borrowed elements served as new means of expressing the main thing that underlies the national convictions of the Japanese and contributed to the strengthening of the specific features of their culture.
Welter, A., & Newmark, J. (Eds.). (2017). Religion, culture, and the public sphere in China and Japan. Palgrave Macmillan.