In general, when an independent culture meets another independent culture, they will either refuse to communicate and be solitary or they will actively learn from each other.
Japan is the kind of nation that as long as it discovers a more superior culture, then it will find a way to learn from the superior culture.
As we all know, China, one of the four great ancient civilizations, has no doubt influenced Japan in many different ways.
In ancient times, China has led in many ways of science, architecture, manufacture and etc.
Therefore, a lot of Japanese as students or businessmen, came to China to study China’s leading technology in the past.
After the Japanese went back to their home, they taught the others what they had learned in China and even built a city, Kyoto, which is after the pattern of Chinese city Xi An.
Now let’s take a further look at what did Japan borrow from China.
Chinese influence on Japanese language: Characters
Chinese characters were introduced to Japan in the Western Han Dynasty(206 BC – 9 AD).
At that time, Japan had only its own oral language but no writing characters.
Due to the convenience of Chinese characters, Japan began to learn Chinese on a large scale and use Chinese characters.
Chinese characters are used as records, but the Japanese found that there were still many shortcomings in actual use, such as the order of expression.
As a result, the Japanese created their own writing system – Katakana which is based on the Chinese characters and used them as a phonetic character.
The Japanese has creatively transformed Chinese characters and formed their own unique character system. The widespread use of Chinese characters has enabled Japan to accelerate the pace of learning Chinese culture.
Chinese influence on Japanese religion: Buddhism
Buddhism was introduced to China through India during the Eastern Han Dynasty, and later from China to Japan.
During Prince Edward’s regency, Buddhism was actively spread. Based on the idea that “the world is false, but Buddha is true.”
Against such a historical background, Japanese culture has achieved considerable development, especially in architecture, sculpture, painting, and decorative arts, and has formed a golden age of Buddhist culture centered around the Prince Edward’s era.
Buddhism promotes the concepts of punishing evil and promoting goodness, reincarnation, moral self-cultivation, etc. so it has played a very important role in protecting the country and benefiting the people in Japanese history.
Buddhism has also played a huge role in the development of Japan. Without the Japanese monks who traveled a long way to China to bring back the superior knowledge, Japan would not achieve its historical development.
Chinese influence on Japanese food and art: Japanese tea ceremony
Growing and drinking tea originated in China, and the tea ceremony has become a national art of Japan, which is also the result of the cultural exchange between China and Japan.
In Japanese, it is now called cha-no-yu (茶の湯) or sadō, chadō (茶道)
Chinese tea was introduced to Japan about 1,200 years ago in the Nara period (710-794 AD) when the Chinese emperor gave tea to the Japanese monks in the palace.
After bringing back the tea tree seeds to Japan, the Japanese people found it comfortable to drink tea. The Japanese monks also enthusiastically promoted tea drinking to the society, which laid the foundation for the Japanese tea ceremony.
The Japanese tea ceremony absorbed and transformed the Chinese tea ceremony, and developed it into a kind of communicative activity that uses tea and tea tasting as a means to connect feelings, cultivate character.
The game GO
The game Go originated in China.
Go games have been recorded in the Chinese ancient book — “Zuo Zhuan” and “The Analects of Confucius” on the ancient Chinese chronicle Spring and Autumn Annals.
Playing Go was very popular among the people in the Tang Dynasty.
After Japan sent envoys, foreign students, and academic monks to the Tang Dynasty, many of them learned and even mastered Go and brought it back to Japan.
In the Edo period (1603-1867), Go became even more popular. The level of Japanese Go players has caught up with China and even surpassed China.
After the resumption of diplomatic relations between China and Japan in 1972, there are frequent communication between Chinese and Japanese Go players to promote China-Japan friendship.
Chinese influence on Japanese clothing: Kimono
Kimono is a unique national costume in Japan. Japanese women wear colorful kimonos at festivals or weddings to make them look especially beautiful and luxurious.
In fact, the kimono evolved from the Tang Dynasty clothing in China. In the second to third centuries AD, Japanese women still wore pants with a piece of cloth and a hole to pull on.
After the fourth century, influenced by Chinese culture, the Japanese began to wear separate clothes. In the fifth century, the incumbent Emperor sent people to Jiangnan, China to hire brocade workers and tailors.
There are different types and accessories of Japanese kimonos. All the footwork, handbags and even jewelry of kimonos must be matched.
The belts used on the women’s kimonos were also influenced by Chinese clothing and made into a tube shape. Later, they were widened and thickened, and the knots were tied behind the waist. There were even more than 200 knotting methods alone.
The history of Chinese wearing wooden clogs is at least 3,000 years.
According to ancient records, wooden clogs have begun in the Chinese Warring States Period.
Wooden clogs have many advantages. For example, Wooden clogs are particularly suitable for use in hot, wet and humid southern regions. Therefore they are loved by southern Chinese.
In the early days, most farmers in southern China still wore clogs, especially in Fujian and Taiwan. Many people mistakenly acknowledged that wooden clogs were Japanese products. In fact, Japanese wooden clogs were brought back to Japan by the Japanese students during the Tang Dynasty. Then the wooden clogs have been widely spread in Japan and they are still very popular in present Japan society.
Japanese people wear wooden clogs in festivals, ceremonies or formal occasions to match the traditional kimonos. Wooden crickets are an important accessory in the entire kimono.
Wooden clogs now become an important part of Japan’s traditional culture.