Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture

By John S. Bowman | Go to book overview

Japan
ARTS, CULTURE, THOUGHT, AND RELIGION

KOFUN PERIOD: A.D. 250-600

250–400: Early Kofun period. Confucian scholar Wani arrives from the Korean state of Paekche with eleven volumes of Chinese classic writings. He becomes tutor to the crown prince and becomes the first scribe. Literacy spreads very slowly at the Japanese court. In fifth- and sixth-century Japan literacy is possessed mainly by immigrant families from the Korean peninsula. Invaluable to the bureaucratic state, scribes are essential for keeping accurate records.

538 (or 552): According to tradition, Buddhism is introduced into Japan. By the end of the century it is firmly established as the official religion, politically valuable as a means to increase the authority of the rulers, and it leads to a spread of literacy. Elites vie with each other in constructing temples in the Asuka region and commissioning art works for them. Eating four-legged animals is banned for religious reasons, leading to a decrease in hunting. By the end of the century, Buddhism ends the practice of building Kofun tombs, which it sees as inappropriate. The tombs continue to be built in Kanto and Tohoku regions until the end of the seventh century.

554: In return for Japan's aid, the Korean kingdom of Paekche sends back specialists in Confucianism, Buddhism, divination, calendars, herbs, and music. Learning is apparently highly valued by Japanese of this era.

c. 585: Up to this time, inhabitants of Japan believe that malevolent native spirits (kami) cause calamities. With the arrival of Buddhism, they believe that plagues and disasters result from a failure to worship Buddha. Buddhism does not replace native religions of Japan and cults of sacred places and spirits centered at ancient shrine of Ise. Now known as Shinto (the way of the kami), these rites and shrines persist into the modern era.

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Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture *
  • Contents v
  • Consultants and Contributors vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture *
  • Part One - East Asia 1
  • China - Political History 3
  • China - Arts, Culture, Thought, and Religion 79
  • China - Science-Technology, Economics, and Everyday Life 99
  • Japan - Political History 118
  • Japan - Arts, Culture, Thought, and Religion 162
  • Japan - Science-Technology, Economics, and Everyday Life 179
  • Korea 193
  • Taiwan 225
  • Hong Kong 236
  • Macau (Macao) 244
  • Part Two - South Asia 250
  • India - Political History 251
  • India - Arts, Culture, Thought, and Religion 325
  • India - Science-Technology, Economics, and Everyday Life 355
  • Pakistan 370
  • Bangladesh 379
  • Bhutan 384
  • Maldives 389
  • Nepal 393
  • Sri Lanka (Ceylon) 400
  • Part Three - Southeast Asia 408
  • Brunei 409
  • Cambodia 415
  • Indonesia 436
  • Laos 452
  • Malaysia 465
  • Myanmar (Burma) 476
  • The Philippines 488
  • Singapore 501
  • Thailand 506
  • Vietnam 521
  • Part Four - Central Asia 545
  • Mongolia 547
  • Central Asian Republics 566
  • Tibet 577
  • Appendix 1 - National/Independence Days 583
  • Appendix 2 - Scientific-Technological Achievements in Asia 590
  • Appendix 3 - Asian History: a Chronological Overview 603
  • Index 679
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