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12- Feudal Powers in Japan

Timeline: ~11
FQ: To what extent did the Japanese Adopt & Adapt ideas from its Neighbors?

Main Idea: The Japanese adopted elements of Chinese culture via their commercial and
political contacts. These adopted cultural elements were adapted to suit the unique conditions of
the people of the Japanese archipelago and developed alongside (or fused with) native
traditions. The 'offspring' of this process is a unique culture that changes when necessary
without abandoning time-honored traditions.


I. Chronology of Diffusion
A. History of Asian Mainland Inuence
1. Prehistoric Contact: Series of migrations to the archipelago via Korea Strait
prior to the Yayoi Period
2. Political/ Commercial contact between societies begins in Japan's Yayoi
Period (300 BCE - 300 CE)
3. First Chinese record of Japan (as a tribute-bearing nation) dates to 2nd C. CE.

B. Political Impact
1. Missions to China
2. Taika Reform ("Great Change") in 645
a. Modeled after Chinese Confucian State- a centralized bureaucratic
state. This concentrated power within the imperial throne.
b. Attempt to nationalize all land
c. Divide land equally among peasants, but not nobles

II. Japan Adopts & Adapts

A. Technological and Artistic Impact
1. Writing System
2. Architecture

B.Philosophical/ Religious Impact

1. Buddhism and Shinto
2. Neo-Confucianism

III. The Efforts of Prince Shotoku

Adopted (6th - 9th C.) Adapted (6thC. to Present)
Social Hierarchy: Elitist, Merit Based,
Confucian => Gentry, Scholar Elite, Peasant.
Increased rigidity in social structure. Family birth of greater import.
No ofcial merit-based policy.
View of women as subordinate to men. Greater mobility for women, women contribute signicantly in
Importance of family as a component of
Importance of family from indigenous (Shinto, etc.) and Confucian
The Unitary State tradition is a political tradition of China since the Qin dynasty

IV. Japan's Warrior Clans

A. Migrations from Korea Peninsula ~400 CE
B. Burial Mounds
C. Burial Objects

V. Summary Activity: Why it matters now.

An openness to adapting innovations from other cultures is still a hallmark of Japanese society.

Materials/Sources:#Refer to the course calendar for additional materials, assignments and pertinent due dates.
! World History: Patterns of Interaction
! (Human Record text) Read pages 305 307 Zen Buddhism in Japan source 75 Dogen, On Life and Death
Ideals of beauty: cosmetics, dress, bound
Ideals of beauty: cosmetics, dress, blackened teeth,...
Mandate of Heaven & Emperor as Son of
Mandate of Heaven is not conceptually the same though the
emperor's connection with the supernatural is evident with respect
to Amaterasu.
Writing System: Ideographic, varying
Writing System: modied to become a phonetic (syllabic)
language=> Kana script for women and Hiragana (later).
Modications encompassed character shape, meaning, and
Arts: Painting & Architecture Arts: Painting=> Form & Subjects were modied. Architecture=>
Style and Design were modied.
Concubinage Each wife or mistress had a separate dwelling; Divorce was not
granted in cases involving a woman's inability to have children.
Loyalty & Pride: Ethnic loyalty, Filial Piety,
Loyalty to conscience and superiors, various
social & religious obligations, ...
Loyalty & Pride: National loyalty supercedes lial piety. Loyalty to
superiors over conscience. Unconditional obligations and loyalties
to emperor and society. No equivalent to Mandate of Heaven.
Warrior clans developed after migrations caused cultural changes in the Japanese population.