In that case, I think there exist things I'd call ˝civilizational attainments˝, a bunch of things that are the product of a civilization, but can be taken up by other civilizations. Basically what the word meme
originally meant, but on a larger scale. It can be something relatively simple, like how to make bronze, to relatively complicated things, like the Western civilization's university system. For example, coins are actually a surprisingly new invention, and the Egyptian civilization (which actually seems to be the last remnant of the bronze age civilization of the Mediterranean, the other parts were destroyed by the bronze age collapse) had a perfectly functional economy that didn't use what we'd recognize as money, because it was based on barter. Even when Greek coins appeared, they were merely integrated to the barter system. An other good example would be the alphabet: according to modern research nearly all alphabets are the descendants of the Sumerian cuneiform in a way or an other, because it was easy to import and adapt that, and in a way it got both more primitive and yet more functional, until Phoenicians turned it into an adjad, and then that turned into a proper alphabet. So writing survived the collapse of several civilizations.
Now, in the case of Japan, the presence of an older and much more developed civilization (the Sinic) meant that as they became more-and-more sophisticated they could import more-and-more of these civilizational attainments without developing an alternative of their own. But that only started to happen once they became a civilization, so it had little to no effect on the underlying culture. A similar thing happened with the Western and the Classic civilization: we got many things from Rome, so instead of developing out own things we just used what we found among the ruins. Spengler writes quite a lot about this, and one of the examples he brings up is intellectual property: Roman law doesn't deal with this, because the whole concept of intellectual property is beyond their understanding. And that's why we have all these problems with copyright laws. He basically identified the source of many of our woes in the 1910s!
But there is one key difference between the Japanese and Western civilization: our chief source of civilizational attainments was already gone when we started the long process that turns a high culture into a civilization, and the next closest existing civilization was the Arabic, and we didn't have a good relationship with it. We still got quite a lot of civilizational attainments nevertheless, but not enough to seriously affect our own development. Japan was simply not that lucky, so they indeed got nearly all of their civilizational attainments from China, but again, that didn't change the underlying culture, even if it means that they became a part of the Sinic civilization. It's the same how all that fapping to Graeco-Roman ideas didn't turn us into Romans.