Confucianism in Japan - Introduction and Influence

Confucius (孔子, Kōshi) was a Chinese philosopher who lived in China from 551 to 479 BC His teachings, known as Confucianism (儒教, Jukyō), had a profound impact not only in China, but also in Japan.

According to the first Japanese writings, it was introduced in Japan via Korea in the year 285 AD. Some of the most important Confucian principles are humanity, loyalty, morality and consideration.

During the Tokugawa Period (1600-1868), Confucianism had its peak of philosophical influence in Japan. There was a predominant impact on Japanese society at the time, and its influences can still be felt today.

Confucianism in Japan - introduction and influence


Confucianism in Japanese society

In Japan, Confucianism is an important philosophical teaching introduced at the beginning of civilization in Japanese history. Unlike Buddhism, which came from India, Confucianism was, above all, a distinctly Chinese teaching.

It spread from the Han dynasty in China, to Korea, and then entered Japan via the Korean Peninsula. Confucianism overflows high ideals that have always challenged humanity to achieve the highest state of perfection and self-realization. The values and customs of Japanese society were strongly based on Confucius' philosophy.

However, as a political doctrine of the dominant elite, Confucianism was often expressed in cynical, if not selfish, ways that belied their own ideals. Those at the top of the hierarchy only provided verbal support but did not practice what they preached.


Confucianism in Japan - introduction and influence

Confucianism in Japan today

In modern times, Confucian notions that have always been resilient have provided conceptual foundations for integrating much of Western thought. Thoughts about yourself, society, family and politics.

Rather than assuming that history was progressing to better and better levels, Confucians tended to see ideals in the past. Confucian thinking was the philosophical fuel at the time that Japan was a Shogunate.

However, the Western influence that came with the Meiji Restoration ended up atrophying the influences of Confucianism. However, this was not the death of this philosophy in Japan. The idealists of the Restoration, had their studies in the philosophy of Confucius.


However, at the time of the Restoration, the philosophical, political and social aspect managed to remain, despite the introduction of Western policies.