Prior to the advent of Chinese influence in the sixth century, Japan did not have a stratified society. But the harmony of a large population living off the limited resources of a remote island kingdom, Wa, was dependent on a cooperative attitude and the recognition of social roles. Confucianism brought an emphasis on order and status in the public sphere. Heaven and Nature and human society would be balanced by each person's acceptance of their societal role, and their proper behaviour and contribution in the social hierarchy. This expectation was elegantly derived in the Confucian Da Xue, the Great Learning.
‘The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue
throughout the world, first ordered well their own States.
Wishing to order well their States, they first regulated their
Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their
Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts.
Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in
Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the
utmost of their knowledge.
Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things.
Things being investigated, knowledge became complete.
Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere.
Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were then rectified.
Their hearts being rectified, their persons were cultivated.
Their persons being cultivated, their families were regulated.
Their families being regulated, their States were rightly governed.
Their States being rightly governed, the entire world was at peace.’