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An Introduction
During its classical period, Japan was highly influenced by Chinese culture. The influence of Buddhism, Confucianism, and other elements of Chinese culture had a profound impact on the development of Japanese culture.

Robert Oxnam :: Japan's classical period spanned the sixth to the twelfth centuries. Unfortunately, this period is often neglected in world history textbooks. In time it falls after the classical eras of Greece, China, and India. lt precedes the quite distinctive medieval period in Japan, famous for its samurai warriors, that began in the twelfth century.

But here in the classical period, we see a pattern that often recurs. The Japanese consciously and deliberately borrow — in this instance from China. Then they create a cultural synthesis which is uniquely Japanese.

The classical period gave birth to a refined court culture, in which many of the prominent figures were women. One of them, Murasaki Shikibu, wrote what is today considered by many to be the world's first novel, the Tale of Genji.

This classical culture laid the basis for later Japanese civilization.

Haruo Shirane :: One of the things about Japanese culture is, it never sheds the earlier periods, as in the Chinese tradition. Each layer continues to coexist with the new. So each period — the medieval period, the Tokugawa period, the modern period — produces new literature, new aesthetics, but the old continues to coexist with it.