Vice-foreign minister Liu Zhenmin lodged "solemn representations" in his meeting yesterday with Ambassador Masato Kitera and expressed strong protest and severe condemnation.
A Chinese statement added: "We call upon Japan to rigorously honour their expression and commitment to deeply reflect on their history of invasion or there will be no future to Japan's relations with its Asian neighbours."
The meeting followed visits by ministers and dozens of politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine to mark the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender in the Second World War.
The shrine honours 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including officers executed for war crimes committed against nations including China and Korea.
Beijing regards such visits as an affront to its past suffering and evidence Japan has yet to show true contrition over its wartime actions.
Current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not visit the shrine but the Chinese ministry's statement still criticised him for having had an aide present an ornamental offering bought with his own money.
This year's anniversary comes amid heightened tensions over disputed East China Sea islands controlled by Japan but claimed by China.