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Poetry in Ancient Chinese and Japanese Literature

World Literature
June 30, 2013
Poetry and its impact on ancient China and Japan
Ancient China and Japan were both alike and different. Though it may sound like an oxymoron, the development of cultural and spiritual philosophies in China and Japan impacted the way people thought and contributed to the way literature was written and stylized. The literatures behind both these cultures are the basis on which they are structured. Despite being neighboring nations, China and Japan differed on their world views and approaches to the community versus the individual. As a result, Chinese literature focused away from the author while Japanese literature took pride in authorship and credit. It was not until later, after the rise of Daoism and Buddhism, that Chinese culture shifted its focus from the community to the individual. Japan based its cultural focus upon the Classics reworked and held its own separate world view. Both cultures focused on Enlightenment and “The Way” but Chinese culture believed that the community should come first whereas the Japanese believed that by perfecting the individual, society would benefit. However, poetry in both cultures visited topics from politics to daily life, catching glimpses into society. Both Chinese and Japanese society strived to improve their civilizations but ultimately, went about this in diverse ways. In both cultures, literature was written to capture essences of nature, societal ideals, and memories and emotions.
In China, the ruling dynasties were seen as they were given divine power. Each new dynasty meant conquest of a former empire and a shift in power. Justification for claim to power came from “heaven” or the “Mandate of Heaven”. When one dynasty gave way to a new ruling family, they were seen as “sons of Heaven” who were given this power and were worthy; this became each dynasty’s claim to fame. The Classics of Poetry, one of the oldest collections of literature, convey the history and society of the…