Cultural Similarities

Throughout history, India–Japan relations have traditionally been strong. For centuries, India and Japan have engaged in cultural exchanges, primarily as a result of Buddhism which spread indirectly from India to Japan, via China. India is the largest recipient of Japanese


Though Hinduism is a little-practiced religion in Japan, it has still had a significant, but indirect role in the formation of Japanese culture. This is mostly because many Buddhist beliefs and traditions (which share a common Dharmic root with Hinduism) spread to Japan from China via Korean peninsula in the 6th Century. One indication of this is the Japanese "Seven Gods of Fortune", of which three originated as Hindu deities, including Benzaiten (Sarasvati), Bishamon (Vaiśravaṇa or Kubera), and Daikoku (Shiva).

The Hindu god of death, Yama, is known in his Buddhist form as Enma. Garuda, the mount (vahana) of Vishnu, is known as the Karura , an enormous, fire-breathing creature in Japan. It has the body of a human and the face or beak of an eagle. Tennin originated from the apsaras.

The lotus is of great significance in Japan which is always presented to the "lord Kannon" which sounds similar to the god Kanan in India.


Doll Festival (hina-matsuri)
Information: This is the day when families pray for the happiness and prosperity of their girls and to help ensure that they grow up healthy and beautiful. The celebration takes place both inside the home and at the seashore. Both parts are meant to ward off evil spirits from girls. Young girls put on their best kimonos and visit their friends' homes. Tiered platforms for hina ningyō (hina dolls; a set of dolls representing the emperor, empress, attendants, and musicians in ancient court dress) are set up in the home, and the family celebrates with a special meal of hishimochi (diamond-shaped rice cakes) and shirozake (rice malt with sake).

Similarly the same is seen in southern India Bombe Habba (Kannada) or Bommai Kolu (Tamil) or Bommala Koluvu (Telugu)  as a part of navaratri, where rows arranged with dolls, making miniature food items for offerings and children going from home to home to see the arrangement of dolls. The dolls that are arranged are collected and brought down through the generations, every year a new set is added to the collection.  

It is very interesting to note that these cultural traditions like festivities are similar between countries that did not have a direct influence on eachother in ancient history.