ASIA212Varley

The influence of korea in this transmission of

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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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