Thursday, June 29, 2017

Japan, Korean, and Southeast Asian

Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.
Chinese civilization also greatly influenced surrounding peoples. Civilization in Japan was largely inspired by contacts with China, and the Japanese initially developed a centralized imperial political system modeled in many ways on that of China. Chinese Buddhism also heavily influenced the Japanese, many of whom accepted it side by side with their own native religion, now called Shinto, which was based on a belief in gods or nature spirits called kami. The Japanese also adopted the Chinese style of writing, as well as such things as artistic designs, road engineering, medical knowledge, and even styles of clothing.

While imperial rule was usually centralized in China, a different pattern developed in Japan after about 800. Although the emperor remained an important spiritual symbol, power gradually shifted to great war lords. Eventually a decentralized kind of political system developed that resembled feudalism in Europe. Under the theoretical authority of the emperor, a shogun, or supreme military commander, ruled loosely over powerful local lords, who were in turn supported by warriors known as samurai. Eventually, the most powerful lords, known as daimyo, or “great names,” fought among themselves for power, while the emperor and the shoguns were relatively powerless.

Chinese influence was even more pronounced in Korea, the rugged, mountainous peninsula south of Manchuria on the east coast of Asia. China had conquered Korea under the Han dynasty. After the fall of the Han, three kingdoms emerged in Korea, which struggled for control of the peninsula. Eventually, the strongest, Silla, united Korea under its own rule. Thereafter, apart from conquest by the Mongols, Korea retained its political independence, but continued to be heavily influenced by Chinese culture. Koreans adopted the Chinese civil service system, for example. Korean scholars also studied the Confucian Classics. Chinese Buddhism, especially Zen Buddhism, became extremely influential in Korea. Nevertheless, the Koreans retained their own sense of identity, expressed in such things as their own language and their native dress.

Chinese influence even penetrated to Southeast Asia, where the modern-day countries of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Thailand (formerly Siam) are found. China controlled northern Vietnam, for example, a region then known as Nam Viet, for much of its history. Other parts of Southeast Asia, on the other hand, such as Cambodia, were heavily influenced by contacts with Indian civilization and Hinduism, as well as Indian versions of Buddhism.

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