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Unformatted text preview: he Introduction of Buddhism 25 Dangerous as they were, the missions to China from the seventh
through the mid-ninth centuries were essential to the establishment of
Japan’s first centralized state. The Japanese borrowed freely from a civilization that, at least in material and technological terms, was vastly superior to their own. Yet Japan’s cultural borrowing was sufficiently selective
to bring about the evolution of a society which, although it owed much to
China, became unique in its own right.
The influence of Korea in this transmission of Chinese civilization to
Japan has not yet received adequate attention among scholars. During
the first century or so a.d., Japan’s relations with Korea had been close,
and various Japanese tribal states had dispatched missions to China via
the Han Chinese military commanderies in Korea. Sometime in the late
fourth century, as observed in the last chapter, Japan established Mimana
on the southern tip of the Korean peninsula; and for the next two hundred years Japanese armies were involved in the endless struggles for supremacy among Korea’s three kingdoms of Paekche, Silla, and Koguryô.
By the sixth century, Japan had come in general to support Paekche—
which is credited with officially introducing Buddhism to the Yamato
court in 552—against the rising might of Silla. But Japan’s efforts were
not sufficient to alter the trend of events in Korea. Silla destroyed
Mimana in 562, Paekche in 663, and Koguryô in 668; it thereby unified
Korea as a centralized state on the lines of T’ang China, much like the
newly reformed state that was emerging in Japan during the same period.
Koreans and Chinese had migrated to Japan from at least the beginning of the fifth century. But during Silla’s rise to power the number of
immigrants from the continent—especially refugees from Paekche and
Koguryô—increased substantially, as we can tell from accounts of how
they were given land and allowed to settle in different parts of the countr...
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- Spring '13