Japan and East Asia 600–900

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Map Code: Ax01823

The exchanges of embassies with China played a critical role in the development of Japanese culture and society, and many Chinese methods and ideologies were readily adopted. The fall of the Later Han dynasty in 220 CE and China’s subsequent unstable structure of regional kingdoms halted early exchanges. During this time, in addition to immigration and regional trade, Japan undertook exchanges of embassies with Paekche and Silla instead; it is understood that Buddhism was first introduced to Japanese scholars through these exchanges. Missions to China resumed in 589 under the Sui dynasty, but were most frequent under the Tang dynasty. Appointed by the Japanese court, official envoys would serve as Japan’s representatives in China with the aim of retuning home with knowledge and learning in religion, government, economics and culture. Goods such as Japanese silks and raw materials were exchanged for calligraphy, musical instruments and religious imagery. Some envoys stayed in China for years, and their knowledge and new-found skills were keenly received upon their return.

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