They built simple houses of wood and thatch set into shallow earthen pits to provide warmth from the soil, and crafted lavishly decorated pottery storage vessels, clay figurines called dogu, and crystal jewels.

, bringing their knowledge of wetland rice cultivation, the manufacture of copper weapons and bronze bells (dōtaku), and wheel-thrown, kiln-fired ceramics.

Historians believe that dōtaku were used to pray for good harvests because they are decorated with animals such as the dragonfly, praying mantis and spider, that are natural enemies of insect pests that attack paddy fields.

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The earliest complex art in Japan was produced in the seventh and eighth centuries in connection with Buddhism.

In the ninth century, as the Japanese began to turn away from China, and indigenous forms of expression were developed, the secular arts became increasingly important.

The Japanese, in this period, found sculpture a much less sympathetic medium for artistic expression; most Japanese sculpture is associated with religion, and the medium's use declined with the lessening importance of traditional Buddhism.

During the sixteenth century, the emergence of a wealthy merchant class and urban areas centered around industries such as the production of textiles created a demand for popular entertainment and for mass-produced art such as wood block prints and picture books.

After the Ōnin War (1467-1477), Japan entered a period of political, social, and economic disruption that lasted for over a century.

In the state that emerged under the leadership of the Tokugawa shogunate, organized religion played a much less important role in people's lives, and the arts that became primarily secular.

Contemporary Japanese painters work in all genres including traditional ink and water color painting, classical oil painting, and modern media.

Japanese ceramics are among the finest in the world and include the earliest known artifacts of Japanese culture.

The earliest Japanese sculptures of the Buddha are dated to the sixth and seventh century.

In 538, the ruling monarch of Baekche, King Sông, sent an official diplomatic mission to formally introduce Buddhism to the Japanese court, and presented Buddhist images and sutras to the emperor.

Historically, Japan has been subject to sudden introductions of new and alien ideas followed by long periods of minimal contact with the outside world during which foreign elements were assimilated, adapted to Japanese aesthetic preferences, and sometimes developed into new forms.