Japanese culture consists of the interaction between a strong original Jomon culture and subsequent influences from the rest of the world. China and Korea were first mostly influential, starting with the development of the Yayoi culture from around 300BC.
Classical Greek and Indian cultural traditions, combined into Greco-Buddhism, influenced the arts and religions of Japan from the 6th century AD, culminating with the introduction of Mahayana Buddhism. From the 16th century onward, European influence prevailed, with American influences becoming predominant following the end of WWII.
Japan developed a unique original culture, in its arts (ikebana, origami, ukiyo-e), crafts (dolls, lacquerware, pottery), performances (bunraku, dance, kabuki, noh, raku-go), and traditions (games, onsen, sento, tea ceremony, gardens), as well as a unique cuisine.
Today, Japan is one of the world's largest exporters of popular culture. Japanese cartoons, comic books, fashion, films, literature, and music have gained popularity around the world, especially in the other countries of Asia. Japan's youth are trend savvy and their style preferences influence the fashion and trends around the world. The vibrant youth market provides a strong testing ground for new electronic consumer goods, where the style and function is meticulously gauged by Japanese consumers, before a product is considered for global distribution.
Recently Japan started exporting another valuable cultural commodity, its athletes. The popularity of Japanese baseball players in the United States are increasing the average American's citizens awareness and appreciation of all things Japanese.
The average Japanese really loves their traditional food. A significant portion of the evening TV programs are dedicated to finding the perfect bowl of noodles. Japanese cuisine has achieved worldwide fame with sushi, normally different types of raw fish over a little cold rice with a dab of wasabi paste, eaten all over the world. Japanese cuisine has a seasonal focus, with cold noodles and sashimi in the summer and piping hot bowls of ramen or shabu-shabu in winter.
If you want to learn more about Japan's development, take a look at the Timeline.