Korean influence on Japanese culture

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Korean influence on Japanese culture refers to the influence of Korean culture on Japanese culture. As the Korean Peninsula was the cultural bridge between Japan and the Asian continent through much of history, this influence has been felt in various aspects of Japanese culture. This influence was reflected most notably in the introduction of Buddhism to Japan from India via the Korean Kingdom of Baekje.


Baekje buddhist priest and physician[1] Gwalleuk came in the reign of the Japanese Empress Suiko, and brought books on astronomy, geography and calendrical science, which led to use of the calendar in Japan,[2] whereupon students were chosen to be educated in these sciences. He also taught medicine to the young students selected by the Japanese imperial court.[3]


In the field of Korean and Japanese music history, it is well known that ancient Korea influenced ancient music of Japan.[4] Since the 5th century, musicians from Korea visited Japan with their music and instruments.[5] Komagaku, literally "music of Korea", refers to the various types of Japanese court music derived from the Three Kingdoms of Korea and northern Korean state of Balhae,[6] later classified collectively as Komagaku.[7] It is made up of purely instrumental music with wind- and stringed instruments(became obsolete), and music which is accompanied by mask dance. Today, Komagaku survives only as dance accompaniment and is not usually performed separately by the Japanese Imperial Household.[8]


As early as the 5th century the Kudaragoto, which resembles the western harp, had been introduced from Baekje to Japan along with Korean music. It has twenty three strings, and was designed to be played in an upright position.[9] And the 12-string long zither Shiragigoto was introduced as early as 5th or 6th century from Silla to Japan.[5] However, today, the two instruments has fallen out of use by traditional music performers.

Some instruments in traditional Japanese music originated in Korea: Komabue is a six-hole traverse flute of Korean origin.[10] It is used to perform Komagaku and Azuma asobi[11](chants and dances, accompanied by an ensemble pieces). San-no-tsuzumi is an hourglass-shaped drum of Korean origin.[10][12] The drum has two heads, which are struck using a single stick. It is played only in Komagaku.

Imperial family

According to the Shoku Nihongi (続日本紀?), Takano no Niigasa, background of the naturalized clansmen Yamato-no-Fumito (和史?), was a 10th-generation descendant of King Muryeong of Baekje who was chosen as a concubine for Emperor Kōnin and subsequently became the mother of Emperor Kanmu.[13][14] 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." [15] Since 1976, foreign archaeologists have been requesting access to the Gosashi tomb which is supposed to be the resting place of Emperor Jingu, but these requests have been denied.[15] 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"[15]

See also


  1. ^ Encyclopaedia of Asian civilizations, Volume 3. L. Frédéric, 1977
  2. ^ Monumenta Nipponica, Volume 54. Sophia University(Jōchi Daigaku), 1999
  3. ^ John Z. Bowers. Medical education in Japan: from Chinese medicine to western medicine. Hoeber, 1965
  4. ^ Vadime Elisseeff. The Silk Roads: Highways of Culture and Commerce. UNESCO, 2000
  5. ^ a b Liv Lande. Innovating Musical Tradition in Japan: Negotiating Transmission, Identity, and Creativity in the Sawai Koto School. University of California, 2007
  6. ^ Benito Ortolani, Japanese theater in the world. Japan Foundation, 1997
  7. ^ Denis Arnold. Oxford Companions Series The New Oxford Companion to Music. Oxford University Press, 1983
  8. ^ University of California, Los Angeles. Festival of Oriental music and the related arts. Institute of Ethnomusicology, 1973
  9. ^ Charles A. Pomeroy. Traditional crafts of Japan. Walker/Weatherhill, 1968
  10. ^ a b William P. Malm. Traditional Japanese Music and Musical Instruments. Kodansha International, 2000
  11. ^ Ben no Naishi, Shirley Yumiko Hulvey, Kōsuke Tamai. Sacred rites in moonlight. East Asia Program Cornell University, 2005
  12. ^ Shawn Bender, Taiko Boom: Japanese Drumming in Place and Motion. University of California Press, 2012
  13. ^ Watts, Jonathan (Dec 28, 2001). "The Emperor's New Roots". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-06-11. "I, on my part, feel a certain kinship with Korea, given the fact that it is recorded in the Chronicles of Japan that the mother of Emperor Kammu was of the line of King Muryong of Paekche," [Emperor Akihito] told reporters. 
  14. ^ Fujiwara no Tsugutada; Sugano no Mamichi, eds. (797). 続日本紀 (Shoku Nihongi) (in Japanese) 40. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 壬午。葬於大枝山陵。皇太后姓和氏。諱新笠。贈正一位乙継之女也。母贈正一位大枝朝臣真妹。后先出自百済武寧王之子純陀太子。皇后容徳淑茂。夙著声誉。天宗高紹天皇竜潜之日。娉而納焉。生今上。早良親王。能登内親王。宝亀年中。改姓為高野朝臣。今上即位。尊為皇太夫人。九年追上尊号。曰皇太后。其百済遠祖都慕王者。 
  15. ^ a b c [1] Tony McNicol. Japanese Royal Tomb Opened to Scholars for First Time. National Geographic News, 2008