With whom did Ancient Japan engage in trade?

Travel Destinations

By Kristy Tolley

Ancient Japan’s location in East Asia made it accessible to many trading partners. The country was able to establish trade relations with various regions across Asia and Europe. Ancient Japan’s economy relied heavily on trade, which was a significant factor in the country’s development. This article highlights some of the countries that Ancient Japan engaged in trade with.

Trade with China

Ancient Japan’s relationship with China was one of the most critical trade partnerships. The two countries traded through the silk route, which allowed for the exchange of goods such as silk, tea, and ceramics. The Chinese also introduced Buddhism to Japan, which had a significant impact on Japanese culture.

Trade with Korea

Japan’s proximity to Korea made it an essential trading partner. The two countries traded goods such as salt, iron, and copper. Korea also played a vital role in introducing Japan to Chinese culture, including the Chinese writing system.

Trade with Southeast Asia

Ancient Japan also engaged in trade with Southeast Asia, a region that included present-day Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Japan imported goods such as spices, wood, and ivory and exported finished goods such as swords and jewelry.

Trade with India

Ancient Japan imported goods such as textiles, spices, and precious stones from India. The two countries also had cultural and religious exchanges, which led to the introduction of Hinduism and Buddhism in Japan.

Trade with the Middle East

Ancient Japan’s trade relationship with the Middle East dates back to the 8th century. Japan imported goods such as silk, porcelain, and tea, while exporting silver, copper, and mercury.

Trade with the Roman Empire

The Romans traded with Ancient Japan through intermediaries such as the Parthians and the Sassanids. Ancient Japan imported goods such as spices, pearls, and silk and exported goods such as ivory, amber, and lacquerware.

Trade with Central Asia

Ancient Japan’s relationship with Central Asia allowed for the exchange of goods such as horses, jade, and textiles. This trade relationship also allowed for the introduction of Buddhism in Japan.

Trade with Siberia

Ancient Japan traded with Siberia, importing goods such as furs, timber, and amber. The Ainu people, who lived in present-day Hokkaido, were intermediaries in this trade relationship.

Trade with the Ainu

Ancient Japan’s trade relationship with the Ainu people involved the exchange of goods such as textiles, weapons, and horses. The Ainu people were also intermediaries in Japan’s trade with Russia.

Maritime trade

Ancient Japan’s location as an archipelago made maritime trade essential. The country traded with countries such as China, Korea, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.


Ancient Japan’s trade relationships with various regions across Asia and Europe allowed for the exchange of goods, culture, and religion. These trade relationships played a significant role in the country’s development and helped shape Japanese culture as we know it today.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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