October 09, 2019 in Culture

Korean Influence on Early Japan

There are many facts that can be used to demonstrate and explain that Korea had greatly impacted the rise and development of early Japan. The Korean Peninsula acted as a gate through which most social complexity and cultures entered Japan. A centralized Yamato state was formed there in the 500s. “When the Japanese Yamato state was just beginning to consolidate its new territory in the Kinki region of Japan, the three kingdoms of Korea were already full developed , and centralized power”. It is clear that there are existing direct links between the Japanese and Korean culture that resulted from Korean immigrations to Japan. It might be mistaken that the Japanese have acquired Chinese culture since the Chinese worked closely with the Japanese. However, it is the numerous Koreans who immigrated to the country. Their presence in Japan had a positive influence on culture regarding language, food, and lifestyle among other aspects. 

Korean Influence of Japan

“The period of intense formative interaction between Korea and Japan spanned centuries.”. It commenced before 400 B.C. and lasted several centuries. The period was long enough to naturalize culture into the Jamon, who were developing then and changed their lifestyle from hunting, fishing, and gathering to better survival methods. The growing number of people in this small country needed better food supplies, and the Koreans revealed this understanding to them. It was essential that the Japanese learn the art of farming in order to utilize their fertile land, thus changing their ways of life. “The Koreans had been doing millet farming in the north and growing rice in the south”. The interaction within this prolonged period involved trading activities, which provided the Japanese with metals, pottery, and other crucial goods originated from Korea. The Korean ideologies, culture, and technological skills entered Japan with the flow of immigrants, artisans, traders as well as official allies and envoys. It is worth noting that numerous immigrants were spanned by the social tension in Korea and the population that was growing rapidly. Both the social tension and the increasing population were catalyzed by the advancement in technology. Later immigrations into Japan from Korea were sparked by soaring reversals of the military and battles for political power in Korea. 

“Japan itself developed economically, politically, and military. Its emerging elites began entering into political, trading and military alliance relationships with Korea counterparts”. The alliances were a form of territory expansion to fulfill the desire for growth and being felt beyond borders. Japanese embassies were established in the southern parts of Korea. The armies that were sent to Korea in order to help the allies prolonged the influencing period. The agreements formed common ground for both Japan and Korea. Their treaties served as indicators of unity. They spurred more interactions between the two countries, and the continuous process of working together meant that the Koreans’ influence on Japanese was lasting. The Korean royal court situated at Baekje also sent artists, craftsmen, physicians, architects, musicians, Confucius classic scholars, and Buddhists priests to Japan. These persons influenced the Japanese in various ways. Buddhist priests spread religion to the locals, thus making a large part of Japanese people Buddha followers. Buddha priests are the foundation of the current Buddhism in Japan. The religion has been passed from one generation to another. Music and dancing in Japan and Korea have similarities. For instance, the traditional costumes worm by the Japanese and Korean dancers are almost similar. The roots date back to the times when a few musicians were sent by the royal court from Korea. The class they presented in Japan triggered many people who desired to become musicians in this growing economy to copy and implement what the foreigners were practicing. The truth is that humanity has a coping tendency. This explains the present Korean image in the Japanese music. The Japanese architecture resembles the Korean, and the similarity is attributed to the architects sent from Korea. Since Korea was ahead in development as compared to Japan that was in transition, the Korean architecture was considered superior to the existing Japanese counterpart. Many elites borrowed these new designs, and young learners learned the peculiarities of the Korean architecture. Although distinctions between the Korean and Japanese building technology can be figured today, it is still clear that the borrowed knowledge remains in the buildings of Japan.

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Cultural Linkages

The cultural linkages provided by the evidence of research show that the Japanese Yayoi and Korean Mumun constitute a similar historical and cultural origin. The integrated system that came from Korea arrived in Japan at the time when urgent replacement of food provision was vital. The ongoing fishing, gathering, and hunting in northern Kyushu was insufficient in the provision of food for survival. The Koreans’ arrival was a crucial point of intervention. Soon after the arrival of Koreans in Northern Kyushu in Japan, transition commenced. Land clearing began, and numerous members of the Japanese community recognized the importance to adopt a new way of earning a living. The conducive farming climate acted as a strong base to support the farming idea introduced to them by the Koreans. 

Anthropological evidence demonstrates that the arrival of new persons in Japan can be proved by tall statures of archeological excavations. The statures are of Koreans who immigrated to Japan, died, and were buried there. The statures, chemistry of blood groups, metric indices, morphological traits as well as dental characteristic show correlation of Korean and Japanese people. The current DNA studies prove that the Koreans were present in Japan and intermarried to give common descendants. The arrival of Koreans during the Yayoi era led to Korean males marrying Jamon women. The resulting effect was the birth of the modern Japanese people. Skeletal changes and demographic stimulation by using computers of the prehistoric era show increased population in Japan from 75,000 to 5,400,000. Such rapid population rise was influenced by the Koreans. “The Japanese ultimate homeland of Japanese is in Korea, more specific somewhere in the southern (Kaya). This happened, because the Koreans brought new farming technologies that improved food supply. They also participated in actual reproduction through intermarriages. Each Korean man who married Jamon woman raised a family, while the indigenous population was procreating as well.

Korea University and the research institute devised high technology for producing quality tools and weapons. Besides, the institutions advanced in steel and iron technology. Pottery technology where better and modern means were used to produce items also arose. Clay tech became high with an adoption of kilns that enabled deoxidation or reduction at high heat. There were none of such technologies in Japan. However, they were needed to alter the life of the society. The consequent and continued immigration to Japan predetermined the transfer of needed experience and information. The immigrants not only took the technologies with them but also practiced its principles and taught the next generations. The technical know-how of producing weapon influenced the Japanese to create advanced and better armies. The structures in the army were established, and the people now were set to defend themselves. Clay wares that were better now were available in the Japanese market. Trading became an everyday activity due to the increasing number of wealthy merchants who traded medicine, weapons, agricultural products, and pottery. Pottery making varied across regions in Japan. In some regions, such as Kaya, potteries had inscriptions of geometrical designs such as triangles, circles, waves, spirals, and squares among others.

Between 300 and 400 A.D., there were numerous technologies, materials, and political systems introduced from the Korean Peninsula to Japan. The items were of particular significance, since any social class could use them when needed. Among the items were iron blades and iron farm tools, household ovens, aristocratic fineries, religious and statecraft tools. “Entering the archipelago in the wake of the imports of the Yayoi age, these borrowings

helped to define a material culture that lasted as long as a thousand years”. The ensuing tomb era, which lasted from 300 to 400 A.D., is characterized by the growing number of iron materials in the Southern Korea. The fifth century had much-increased iron sites in Japan. This means that much effort had grown in Japan regarding iron mining and processing. Iron was a vital part of people’s life, since shields and spears needed for armies had to be made for wars. Evidence from archeology in Japan, Osaka’s Hakayama Tomb, revealed ten suits that were of complete iron amour with helmete.

The effects of development in Japan caused social divisions, thus creating classes of people. There existed schools where teachers taught apprenticeship as well as reading and writing. Besides, people were taught to become specialists in iron and steel industries. Merchants worked on buying and selling farm products that farmers harvested. They also brought items that were processed or manufactured in Korea. Japan became a big business center with the wealthy merchants and other rich people settled in centers. The advancements and employment combined with business led to the demand in housing. 

The presence of Korean technology in Japan attracted Chinese investors and traders as well. The partnerships in production and marketing within Japan provided jobs for the Japanese. The Chinese presence improved public relations and minimized conflicts and consequent arguments that could deter development. The Chinese needed quality products made by using better technology. They also required a market for their products, and thus the increased population in Japan was better ground. The Koreans’ technical know-how attracted the Chinese, who led to the further development of the Japanese.

Baekje developed to become a full-fledged state between 346 and 375 A.D. The state embarked on political and territorial expansion. The governor wanted nothing but power at all cost. These territories were acquired through agreements where applicable and force whenever the former did not work. It adopted Buddhism to serve as a national unity symbol. The state had a government based on a monarchy, where the power was passed on by the principle of inheritance. “The state adopted Confucian Classics of learning. The scholars Wang and Ajikki introduced in Japan the Confucian classic”. The government adopted administrative departments that were bureaucratic that had sixteen official ranks. Each rank had a different color of clothing to distinguish and identify it. Qualifying to get into the ranks required one to be a soldier with abilities to lead attacks during wars. The administration was purely by the army. A constructed fort of about three and a half kilometer circumference existed in the second and third centuries A.D. The fortress enclosed an oblong city that had 600 people living in it. Establishing such a fortress was a symbol of civilization and the state of security as well as the proof of power of the monarchial administration in Japan. The governors had tight control and used the weapons produced with the Korean technology. The population in the fort was fed with agricultural yields that were produced using the knowledge of the immigrants. 


In conclusion, Korea can be defined as the mother of Japan. The reason is that whenever the narration of the rise of Japanese is done, Korea is always mentioned. It was the Koreans who immigrated into Japan and intermarried with Jamon women, thus creating the Japanese society. The occupants of the Japanese islands practiced fishing, hunting, and gathering. The immigration of Koreans changed everything in Japan: from the people to entire lifestyles. The development of Japan incorporated the shift to farming, manufacturing, and consolidated administrations. Japan utilized technologies borrowed from Korea, whose development was far ahead of Japan’s. Thus, whenever Korea required army reinforcements, it hired the Japanese soldiers in return for iron exports. Nevertheless, Japan managed to greatly develop via the utilization of borrowed knowledge.

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