Script error

The Korean influence on Japanese culture refers to the cultural influence of the Korean Peninsula upon Japanese culture. As Korea was the cultural bridge between Japan and the Chinese civilization through much of history, it is inevitable and well-documented that at various times this influence would be felt in various aspects of Japanese culture. This influence was reflected most notably in the introduction of Buddhism to Japan from China via the Korean Peninsula, but it can also be seen in Japanese art and architecture, ranging from the design of Buddhist temples and palaces to various smaller objects such as statues and pottery.


In 552, King Seong of Baekje introduced to Japan a laudatory memorial consisting of the teachings of Buddhism, an image of Shaka Butsu in gold and copper and several volumes of the "Sutras".[1]

  1. REDIRECT Template:Citation needed span After the initial entrance of some craftsmen, scholars, and artisans from Baekje, Emperor Kimmei requested Korean men who were skilled in divination, calendar making, medicine and literature.[2] During the 6th century, Soga Umako went to great lengths to promote Buddhism in Japan with the help of the Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla kingdoms of ancient Korea.[3]


During the Asuka Period, Japanese architecture was primarily influenced by models from the Korean kingdom of Baekje. Japanese nobility, wishing to take advantage of culture from across the sea, imported artists and artisans from the Korean Peninsula (most, but not all, from Baekje) to build and decorate their first palaces and temples.

Temple Architecture

In 601, Prince Shōtoku began the construction of his palace, the first building in Japan to have a tiled roof. Next to it he built his temple, which became known as Hōryū-ji. He employed workers from Baekje for both of these projects. The temple became his personal devotional center where he studied with Hyeja, a Buddhist priest Damjing from Goguryeo; it also housed people who practiced medicine, medical knowledge being another by-product of Buddhism. Next to the temple there were dormitories which housed student-monks and teacher-monks.

The first Horyu-ji burned to the ground in 670. It was rebuilt, and although it is thought to be smaller than the original temple, Horyu-ji today is much the same in design as the one originally built by Shotoku. Again, the temple was rebuilt by artists and artisans from Baekje, which had since fallen to Silla; many craftsmen, artisans, and scholars from Baekje fled to Japan when it fell.

  1. REDIRECT Template:Citation needed span Two other temples, Hokki-ji and Horin-ji, were also possibly built by Baekje workmen.

Iron ware

Iron processing and sword making techniques in ancient Japan can be traced back to Korea. "Early, as well as current Japanese official history cover up much of this evidence. For example, there is an iron sword in the Shrine of the Puyo Rock Deity in Asuka, Japan which is the third most important historical Shinto shrine. This sword which is inaccessible to the public has a Korean Shamanstic shape and is inscribed with Chinese characters of gold, which include a date corresponding to 369 A.D. At the time, only the most educated elite in the Paekche Kingdom knew this style of Chinese writing"[4]

"Inariyama sword, as well as some other swords discovered in Japan, utilized the Korean 'Idu' system of writing." The swords "originated in Paekche and that the kings named in their inscriptions represent Paekche kings rather than Japanese kings." The techniques for making these swords were the same styles from Korea.[5][4]


  1. REDIRECT Template:Citation needed span has been found throughout Japan. Two basic kiln types — both still in use — were employed in Japan by this time. The bank, or climbing, kiln, of Korean origin, is built into the slope of a mountain, with as many as 20 chambers; firing can take up to two weeks. In the updraft, or bottle, kiln, a wood fire at the mouth of a covered trench fires the pots, which are in a circular-walled chamber at the end of the fire trench; the top is covered except for a hole to let the smoke escape.

Satsuma ware

It is documented that during Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea (1592–1598) Japanese forces abducted a number of Korean craftsmen and artisans, among them a disputed number of potters. Some sources claim only a few,[6] others claim many more.[7] Regardless of the number, it is undisputed that at least some Korean potters were forcibly taken to Japan from Korea during the invasions, and that it is the descendants of these potters who produced Satsuma ware.[8]


One of the most famous of all Buddhist sculptures from the Asuka period found in Japan today is the "Kudara Kannon" which, when translated, means "Baekje Guanyin."[9] This wooden statue formerly stood as the central figure in the Golden Hall at the Horyu-ji.

  1. REDIRECT Template:Citation needed span "This tall, slender, graceful figure made from camphor wood is reflective of the most genteel state in the Three Kingdoms period. From the openwork crown to the lotus pedestal design, the statue marks the superior workmanship of 7th century Paekche artists." [10]
  1. REDIRECT Template:Citation needed span The number of protrusions from the petals is identical, and the coiling of the vines appears to be the same. Crowns of a nearly identical type remain in Korea, executed in both gilt bronze and granite. The crown's pendants indicate a carryover from shamanist designs seen in fifth-century Korean crowns.[10]
  2. REDIRECT Template:Citation needed span

More examples of Koreas influence were noted in the New York Times, whose reporter writes when looking at Japan's national treasures like the Miroku and Koryuji sculptures; "It is also a symbol of Japan itself and an embodiment of qualities often used to define Japanese-ness in art: formal simplicity and emotional serenity. To see it was to have an instant Japanese experience. I had mine. As it turns out, though, the Koryuji sculpture isn't Japanese at all. Based on Korean prototypes, it was almost certainly carved in Korea"[11] and "The obvious upshot of the show's detective work is to establish that certain classic "Japanese" pieces are actually "Korean.""[11]


Facing slavery and persecution as neo-Confucianism took a stronger hold during the Joseon Dynasty in Korea, many Buddhist-sympathetic artists began migrating to Japan in the 15th century. Once in Japan, they continued to use their Buddhist names instead of their birth (given) names, which eventually led to their origins being largely forgotten. These artists eventually married native women and raised children who were oblivious to their historical origins.[12]

Many famous artists in Japan fall into this category. Yi Su-Mun, who left for Japan in 1424 to escape persecution of Buddhists, painted the famous "Catching a Catfish with a Gourd". The famous Tenshō Shūbun of Shokoku-ji also arrived on the same vessel as Yi Su-Mun.[13]

Imperial family

It has been theorized that the Japanese imperial line has Korean ancestry. As reported in National Geographic, Walter Edwards, professor of Japanese studies at Tenri University in Nara, states that "Blood links between Korea and the Japanese imperial family are documented from the eighth century. Even the current emperor [Akihito] has said that he has Korean ancestry." [14] Since 1976, foreign archaeologists have been requesting access to the Gosashi tomb which is suppose to be the resting place of Emperor Jingu, but these requests have been denied.[14]. In 2008, Japan gave foreign archaeologists limited access to the site, but without allowing any excavation. As National Geographic wrote, Japan "has kept access to the tombs restricted, prompting rumors that officials fear excavation would reveal bloodline links between the "pure" imperial family and Korea"[14]


  1. Korean Impact (2001), pp. 44-45
  2. Korean Impact (2001), p. 46.
  3. Korean Impact (2001), p. 47.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Korean Impact (1984)
  5. 5000 Years of Korean Martial Arts
  6. Purple Tigress, blog post
  7. The Met, Muromachi period
    1596 Toyotomi Hideyoshi invades Korea for the second time. In addition to brutal killing and widespread destruction, large numbers of Korean craftsmen are abducted and transported to Japan. Skillful Korean potters play a crucial role in establishing such new pottery types as Satsuma, Arita, and Hagi ware in Japan. The invasion ends with the sudden death of Hideyoshi.
  8. New York Times (1901), paragraph 1
  9. Ampontan - Japan from the inside out.
    the Chinese characters for Baekje (百済) are read Kudara in Japanese.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Korean Impact (2001), p. 58.
  11. 11.0 11.1 NYT (2003): Japanese Art
  12. Korean Impact (2001), p. 99.
  13. Korean Impact (2001), p. 100.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2


  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error (first paragraph only. PDF scan of full article here: [1])
  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error
  • Script error

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.