Japanese Culture

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Japan's cultural history has always had close ties to religion. From China and Korea came Buddhism, which to Japan brought not only new religion, but also new culture. Buddhist ideas, such as karma, impermanence, and simplicity were extremely influential in forming the contents and aesthetic ideals of Japanese poetry and art in general. Buddhist art, paintings and sculpture, as well as its architecture helped shape Japanese arts and architecture in general. However, Japanese culture is unique from that of China's and Korea's. This comes in part from a mixed religious atmosphere. Another significant religion in Japanese history, Shinto, has also had a great influence on Japanese culture, especially in performing arts. The two most famous forms of Japanese theatre today, Noh and Kabuki, derive from Shinto rituals. Since ancient times, dances and songs performed at shrines served as means to evoke deities and pacify them. Up until very modern times in Japan, the interest of emulating the culture and technology of the western world was checked by the equally strong desire to retain and redefine the traditional culture. As for the arts, western music and film are flooding Japan. Western homes, beds, tables, clothes, and food are what Japanese people are starting to want. This could be in part to Japanese Buddhism and Christianity not having much communication with young people and creating a gap between popular culture and established religion, where the two were one in the same long ago. The pendulum of culture is on the upward swing towards the western world, but Japan still holds to some old, and creates new culture today. In fact, modern art like manga and anime can reveal much about the spiritual and mental situation of young people today. Though old culture in Japan is waning due to the younger generation's objective opinion of religion, Japanese people can blend the fundamental doctrine and culture of Shinto, Buddhism, and older folk religions...
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