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Korean Impact on Japanese Culture: Japan’s Hidden History

From the dust jacket:

This account of the founding of Japan’s imperial line and the subsequent introduction of Buddhism is a major extension beyond already published works. Both in the East and the West, scholars have customarily ignored the pivotal role played by Koreans in the early centuries of Japan’s cultural development.

Facts are drawn from known sources, the eighth-century Nihongi and Kojiki, and several others of early date. However, unlike most accounts, this book does not gloss over the hidden meanings, vague references and outright distortions present in Japan’s earliest written records. Since Korea is mentioned over and over again, it seems strange that now Korea’s influence should be confined to grudging foot-notes.

Archaeology, the most unbiased of sources, through pigments in Japan’s prehistoric tumuli, proclaims continental arrivals and gives the lie to a century of solemn pronouncements about the uniqueness of Japanese origins. The conditions of early travel and commerce disprove the worn-out statements concerning direct Chinese influences on Asuka Buddhist art in Japan.

This deliberate coverup of Korea’s role in Japan’s development, has existed since the late 19th century, but it is as out-of-date as emperor worship. This book includes multiple records and reasonable speculations derived there-from. The time has arrived to recognize the first bringers of high civilization to the Japanese islands—immigrants from the Korean peninsula.

Alan Covell’s section on the “Horseriders” reveals a four year detective-like search for clues as to dates and the identity of the group which conquered Japan in the fourth century. Having spent many years in Texas, Alan Covell knows horses and their capacities, as well as weaknesses. Therefore, Japan’s “invasion” is here projected in a way that could be followed even today, given the same set of circumstances. The magic and symbolism of the horse, as felt by men whose lives depended on these four-legged powerhouses, can be seen in the artifacts which remain in mute testimony to the Horseriders and their ways.

Dr. Covell became intrigued by the impact of Korea on Japan’s history a half century ago, when she studied for her doctorate under Columbia University’s Professor Ryuusaku Tsunoda.

Immediately after receiving her Ph.D., she commenced a manuscript on this subject, but it was pushed aside for a succession of a dozen other books on Japanese and Korean art. Mean-while the evidence kept accumulating, during a decade-long residence at Kyoto’s Daitoku-ji, and six years in Seoul.

Both authors have lived over a period of years in the two countries and seen first-hand numerous times the art objects they analyze in a phenomenological manner, bearing in mind the religious, social and economic conditions which produced these artifacts. This book is intended for popular consumption, rather than the specialist’s tedious reading. Recent published books include Korea’s Cultural Roots (1981), Zen at Daitokuji (1974), Ecstasy (1983), Shamanist Folk Paintings (1984), and Folk Art and Magic: Shamanism in Korea (1985).


Introduction: Horseriding Nomads

Part I: The “Horseriders” Arrive: Japan’s Pre-History

  1. The Land of Across
  2. Ojin: Friend of Paekche
  3. Nintoku: Divine Despot
  4. Puyo’s Rock Deity

Part II: Koreans and Japan’s Historic Period

  1. Asuka and Early Buddhism
  2. Shotoku Taishi, “The Father of Japanese Buddhism”
  3. Korean Impact on Japan’s Nara Epoch
  4. Korean Influence on Later Japanese Art

Entry on here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.