The long legacy of Japan has resulted in a culture that is quite unique, this uniqueness, is characterized by a singular mix of indigenous, Chinese and some Western customs.
About 1500 years ago, japanese culture had broad influences from China. Chinese characters were adopted and, after Buddhism established itself besides Shintoism (the native religion), Japan began developing it's national identity.
Also, since Japan's weather is moistier that China's, their achitecture is quite unlike the chinese. Writing also evolved into the Kana syllabic system, that is more compatible with the spoken part of the language, setting Japan farther from the initial chinese influence.
That process was accelerated during the 250 years Japan was isolated, until 1868, when japanese people started to adopt western customs, because of the reorganization resulting from the Meiji restauration of the empire.
Then, Japan began it's modernization following examples from
europe and america, therefore opening itself to other cultures.