Return to Previous Page


Chinese Influence on the Japanese Literati

Chinese literature and culture had been highly regarded in Japan since its introduction in the sixth century, however, it was not until the Tokugawa shoguns came into power and began the Edo period (1615–1868) that the culture of China gained prominence. The teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–479 B.C.E.), which include theories on proper governance and social order, helped establish peace in Japan during this period.

In art, the paintings and lifestyle of the Chinese literati (scholar-officials) offered a new model. Among Chinese artists to whom the Japanese looked for inspiration were the calligrapher Zhang Ruitu and landscape painter Wang Shih-ming. The artistic ideal of the literati was to gain proficiency in the “three perfections”: poetry, calligraphy, and painting. Japanese artists wrote poetry in classical Chinese and addressed Chinese themes. Calligraphic works were often based on Chinese poetry, such as Shakuhachi Jakugon’s Poem by Wang Wei.

Return to Previous Page