Spread of Chinese Civilization Essay

Due to the success of the Chinese civilization in the postclassical period, it began to spread and be accepted by many surrounding areas. The civilization’s most significant influence would be on Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. The spread of Chinese culture in Japan and Korea, specifically, involved many similarities and differences in terms of religion, political structure, and social aspects, including a specific distinction in how exactly the culture spread throughout the two regions.

In both Japan and Korea, religion played a major part in the spreading of Chinese civilization, or Sinification. Buddhism was the religion that provided the key links to the Chinese culture. However, Buddhism was more widely accepted in Korea as compared to Japan, as it was supported by both the royal family and the Korean elite. Whereas in Japan, the imperial government was under constant threat of Buddhist disruption, and the emperors were eventually forced to restore the powers of the aristocratic families in order to counter the Buddhists’ growing influence throughout the region.

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Seeing the success of the Chinese government, both Japan and Korea adopted aspects of the system in order to reform their own. In Japan, where Chinese influence peaked in the seventh and eighth centuries, these were called the Taika reforms, which were intended to follow the Chinese models of court etiquette, diplomacy, historical writing, and Confucian philosophy. In contrast, Korea broke free from Chinese rule and formed three kingdoms: Koguryo, Silla, and Paekche.

Due to the internal conflict between the three kingdoms, the Silla aligned with the Tang to destroy Koguryo and Paekche, leaving the Silla as the sole kingdom in Korea. With the multiple reforms that were taking place throughout Japan and Korea, it was natural that the social aspects of living were to be affected as well. For example, in the Heian society in Japan, poets developed a poetic tradition in a Chinese script for the Japanese language. Along with the Japanese poets, Korean artisans were also affected by the spread of Chinese ulture, producing pottery and other artwork that often rivaled those of the Chinese. However, unlike in Japan where almost all classes experienced the changes and reforms, Sinification in Korea was largely limited to the elite classes. Though elements of the Chinese culture reached and spread through Japan and Korea in different ways, the effects of the fusion of systems in obvious. The influence of Buddhism, government reforms, and social classes laid a major impact on the two regions, and set the foundation for the other sets of reforms that took place after this postclassical period.