In terms of trade, technology, arts, literature, military strategy, administrative organization and techniques of good governance, the process of assimilating and borrowing from China and Korea was of utmost importance for the maturing of the Japanese civilization. These mostly secular variables became interwoven with the religious life of the society to such an extent that the phenomenon of ethnogenesis cannot be understood by treating the factors separately. Incipient Shinto was related to other agricultural and animistic religious manifestations from Asia but later evolved as a completely different religion. Clan chieftains justified their sacred authority by taking the role of intermediaries between the people and the gods. Starting as a wide, unpremeditated range of colorful myths, Shinto was partially reshaped to grant the emperor his sacred nature. Buddhism arrived to enhance this absolute authority, offered a prestige that would eventually make the neighboring countries respect and fully recognize Japan as a sovereign entity, and smoothed the road for radical reforms. From a metaphysical perspective, Shinto influenced Buddhism by offering it a more collectivistic trait, while Buddhism came with a complex system of ethics that was completely lacking in the Shinto teleology. The religious syncretism encouraged a remarkable social cohesion which was behind the success of the imperial system, but it also heavily inspired and transformed all the philosophical and artistic forms of expression from the archipelago. Japan managed to adapt the foreign components to its own particular needs. At the end of this procedure, the unique and authentic character of the Country of the Rising Sun emerged.
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