Jsc history Study Guide Post-Imperial Japanese History


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JSC History Study Guide

Post-Imperial Japanese History

Spring 2011

Instructor Doyoung Park

Osaka Gakuin University

Lesson 1

Building Historical Perspective

How to Approach to History?
Two ways to approach to History: Fact-based or focusing on Interpretation

  • Leopold Von Lanke (1795-1886), German historian

    • history as it essentially was not the duty to judge the past, nor to instruct one's contemporaries with an eye to the future, but rather merely to show how it actually was"

  • Hayden White (1928 - ), American historian

    • "Plot is not a structural component of fictional or mythical stories alone; it is crucial to the historical representations of events as well"

  • Quentin Skinner (1940 – ), British historian

    • A theory of interpretation which concentrated on recovering the author's intentions in writing classic works of political theory

Discussion Topic: Which side will you take if you have to choose one, and why?

Creating Images of Japan
Popular Keywords of Japanese Image

  • Culture: animation, manga, Jpop, geisha, otaku, sushi, kimono, Lexus, Nintendo etc.

  • History: samurai, ninja, kamikaze, atomic bomb, sword, etc.

Discussion Topic: How these keywords affect to the formulation of Japanese image?

Lesson 2

Welcome to the Sun empire

Learning points

Principal gods of Japanese mythology

Japan and the Sun

  • The sun as the symbol of Japan

    • Amaterasu

      • The eldest daughter of Inazagi

      • The Sun Goddess?

      • The first ancestor of the imperial lineage

      • Ise Shrine (伊勢神宮)

      • Popular cultural icon

    • Three legged crow – Sun bird

      • Common sun mythology of East Asia

      • The emblem of the national soccer team of Japan

    • Fuso

      • Divine tree from which the sun arises

      • The brand name of Mitsubishi truck, the name of battleship of Japanese navy

      • Refers to Japan as the origin of sun rise

Geography of Japan and the Sun

  • Far east island from the Chinese continent

    • Isolated from the civilization

    • Difficulty to import advanced culture

  • Emergence of the identity as the land of the sun

    • Out of the Sino-centric world view

    • National pride of Japan



by Micha F. Lindemans from Encyclopedia Mythica

In Japanese Shinto-mythology, the primordial sky, the god of all that is light and heavenly. Izanagi ("the male who invites") and his wife and sister Izanami ("the female who invites") were given the task of creating the world. Standing on Ama-no-ukihashi (the floating bridge of the heavens), they plunged a jewel crested spear into the ocean. When they pulled it free, the water that dripped from the spear coagulated and formed the first island of the Japanese archipelago. Here the first gods and humans were born. When his wife died giving birth, Izanagi went to the underworld to retrieve her, but she refused to come back with him and they parted forever. When Iganami returned from the underworld, he started the first cleaning rites. He washed his left eye and thus created the sun goddess Amaterasu. When he washed his right eye, the moon goddess Tsuki-yomi came forth. From his nose he created Susanowa, the god of the seas and the storms.

The name of Izanagi in Japanese.


by Micha F. Lindemans from Encyclopedia Mythica

The Japanese Shinto sun goddess, ruler of the Plain of Heaven, whose name means 'shining heaven' or 'she who shines in the heavens'. She is the central figure in the Shinto pantheon and the Japanese Imperial family claims descent from her 1. She is the eldest daughter of Izanagi. She was so bright and radiant that her parents sent her up the Celestial Ladder to heaven, where she has ruled ever since. When her brother, the storm-god Susanowa, ravaged the earth she retreated to a cave because he was so noisy. She closed the cave with a large boulder. Her disappearance deprived the world of light and life. Demons ruled the earth. The other gods used everything in their power to lure her out, but to no avail. Finally it was Uzume who succeeded. The laughter of the gods when they watched her comical and obscene dances aroused Amaterasu's curiosity. When she emerged from her cave a streak of light escaped (a streak nowadays people call dawn). The goddess then saw her own brilliant reflection in a mirror which Uzume had hung in a nearby tree. When she drew closer for a better look, the gods grabbed her and pulled her out of the cave. She returned to the sky, and brought light back into the world. Later, she created rice fields, called inada, where she cultivated rice. She also invented the art of weaving with the loom and taught the people how to cultivate wheat and silkworms. Amaterasu's main sanctuary is Ise-Jingue situated on Ise, on the island of Honshu. This temple is pulled down every twenty years and then rebuild in its original form. In the inner sanctum she is represented by a mirror (her body). She is also called Omikami ("illustrious goddess") and Tensho Daijan (in Sino-Japanese pronunciation).

1. She was called the 'illustrious ancestress of the Emperor' prior to 1945. At that time, the Japanese Emperor disclaimed any form of divine ancestry and polytheistic ancestor worship was no longer permitted.

The name of Amaterasu in Japanese.
Lesson 3

Kansai the Heart of Medieval Japan

The Yamato State

  • Establishment of the Yamato State (ヤマト王権)

  • About 250-710

  • Implication of Yamato to Japanese

    • Yamato Nadeshiko: perfect Japanese woman

    • The battleship, Yamato

    • Yamato refers to Japan or Japanese spirit

  • New Japan comparing to previous states

    • Expanded territories

    • Importation of advanced culture

    • Sophisticated institution

The earliest Japanese state we know of was ruled over by Yamato "great kings"; the Yamato state, which the Japanese chronicles date to 500 A.D., that is, the time when a new wave of Korean cultural influence passed through southern Japan, was really a loose hegemony. Yamato is the plain around Osaka; it is the richest agricultural region in Japan. The Yamato kings located their capital at Naniwa (modern day Osaka) and enjoyed a hegemony over the surrounding aristocracies that made them powerful and wealthy. They built for themselves magnificent tomb-mounds; like all monumental architecture, these tombs represented the wealth and power of the Yamato king. The keyhole-shaped tomb-mound of Nintoku is longer than five football fields and has twice the volume of the Great Pyramid of Cheops.

   According to the Japanese chronicles, the court of the Yamato kings was based on Korean models for the titles given to the court and regional aristocrats were drawn from Korean titles. As in Yayoi Japan, the basic social unit was the uji ; what had been added was an aristocracy based on military readiness. This military aristocracy would remain the single most powerful group in Japanese history until the Meiji restoration in 1868. The various aristocratic families did not live peacefully together; the Yamato court witnessed constant struggles among the aristocratic families for power.

   During this period, Japan had a presence on the Korean peninsula itself. Korea was in its most dynamic cultural and political period; the peninsula itself was divided into three great kingdoms: Koguryo in the north, Paekche in the east, and Silla in the west. Paekche understood the strategic importance of Japan and so entered into alliance with the Yamato state. This connection between the Yamato court and Paekche is culturally one of the most important events of early Japanese history. For the Paekche court sent to Japan Korean craftspeople: potters, metal workers, artists, and so on. But they also imported Chinese culture. In the fifth or sixth century, the Koreans imported Chinese writing in order to record Japanese names. In 513, the Paekche court sent a Confucian scholar to the Yamato court. In 552, the Paekche sent an image of Buddha, some Buddhist scriptures, and a Buddhist representative. These three imports—writing, Confucianism, and Buddhism—would transform Japanese culture as profoundly as the Yayoi immigrations had done. The most important period in early Japan occurs during the reign of Empress Suiko, who ruled from 592 to 628 A.D.. In the latter years of the 500's, the alliance between Paekche and the Yamato state broke down; this eventually led to the loss of Japanese holdings on the Korean peninsula. Waves of Koreans migrated to Japan, and, to make matters worse, the powerful military aristocracies of the Yamato state began to resist the Yamato hegemony.

Richard Hooker


New Capital Kyoto

  • Moved the capital from Nara to Kyoto in 784

  • For political reasons

  • Several theories

  • Out of the influence of powerful Buddhist cleargies and temples in Nara

  • Heian-kyo(平安京)

  • The beginning of the Heian period

  • Benchmarked the Chinese capital Luoyang

Kyoto 1994

  • 1200thanniversary as the capital

  • 17 World’s Cultural Heritages in Kyoto, registered in 1994

  • JR Tokai launched tourism campaign from 1993

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oEYdEUA8-0

  • Legacies and Invented traditions

Lesson 4

Age of Fighting Heroes
Samurai, the Icon of Japanese culture

  • Movies, TV shows, video games

    • Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, etc

    • Samurai Japan, the national baseball team

    • Star Wars, Last Samurai

Samurai Spirit

  • Nitobe Inazo(新渡戸稲造:1862-1933)

    • Author, Educator, Politician

  • Bushido – The Soul of Japan (1990)

    • Moral manner of ruling class”

    • Honor and fair play”

    • Loyalty and braveness”
  • Ruth Benedict (1887-1948)

    • American anthropologist

  • The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

    • Japan has a 'shame' culture, whose emphasis is on how one's moral conduct appear to outsider in contradistinction to America's (Christian) 'guilt' culture, in which the emphasis is on individual's internal conscience.

Myths and Truths of Samurai Spirit

  • Complicated behaviors

  • Death for honor

  • Stealing heads

  • Changing affiliation for better contracts

  • Run out on a debt from merchants

  • The population of samurai 7-10%

  • Samurai was a ruling class in Japan

  • The trend of the ruling class culture is pursued by commoners

  • The concept of lady and gentleman

The First Military Government

  • Emperor, Shirakawa(白川天皇: 1053-1129)

    • Recruited the Taira clan (平氏) for military power

  • Taira clan became high ranking officials

    • Most powerful military and political group

Anti- Taira Clan Movement

Minamoto no Yoritomo, the Rising New Power

  • 源頼朝(1147-1199)

  • Military leader in izu

  • Gathered samurai in the Kanto area

  • Settled down at Kamakura

  • The Master of Kamakura

The Establishment of the Kamakura Shogunate
  • Deal between the emperor and Minamoto no Yoritomo

  • The emperor requested Yoritomo to Enter Kyoto to resist Minamoto no Yoshinaka

  • Minamoto no Yoritomo asked for the area of Tokaido

  • Opened the war against the Taira clan

  • Destroyed the Taira in 1185

  • Grasped the actual power of military and governance

  • The beginning of the Kamakura shogunate

  • Tension between Kyoto and Kamakura

Kamakura Shogunate and Mongol

  • Kublai Khan of the Mongol empire

  • Conquered Korea and attacked Kyushu area, Japan

    • Japanese army defeated Mongolian army

      • Conventional theory

        • Typhoon season – Kamikaze (神風)

      • The other theory

        • Mongolian army was scouting unit

  • Cooperation of the shogunate and the imperial court

Anti-Kamakura Movement and the Ashikaga Shogunate

  • Godaigo emperor (後醍醐天皇 1288-1339)

    • Planned to locate the emperor at the center of power

    • Conflicted with the Kamakura shogunate

      • Issue of the crown prince

    • Exiled for the anti-shogunate plan

    • Anti-Kamakura mood from local warlords

    • The Kamakura shogunate dispatched the Ashikaga to Kyoto

    • The Ashikaga(足利) betrayed the shogunate

    • The end of the Kamakura shogunate

    • Godaigo emperor returned to Kyoto

    • The Muromachi shogunate (室町幕府:1336-1573)

Japanese local identity
  • Connected to local warlords during the Civil War period (Sengoku period)

  • Tourist souvenir and local warlords

Sengoku Period

  • Sengoku boom in modern times

  • Civil War period

    • Collapse of Central Power

    • The Age of local prefectures

    • Everyone could be a conqueror

  • Strong local identity under the leadership of local heroes

    • Who is your master?

    • Edo, the exploiter

      • Victimized local prefectures

Three Heroes
Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582)

  • Warlord of Owari Area

  • Destroyed the Muromachi shogunate

  • Conquered 2/3 daimyo

  • The strongest warlord

  • Killed by his man Akechi Mitsuhide at Honnoji temple

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598)

  • Came from a poor peasant family

  • Low ranking soldier

  • Example of the sengoku dream

  • Former Imakawa army, later Nobunaga army

  • Unified Japan

  • Invaded Korea

Tokugawa Ieyasu

  • Management of manpower

  • Wait for the time

  • Endurance

  • Defeated the Toyotomi

  • Established the Tokugawa shogunate

Characters of Three Heroes

鳴かぬなら殺してしまえほととぎす 信長

鳴かぬなら鳴かせてみようほととぎす 秀吉

鳴かぬなら鳴くまで待とうほととぎす 家康

Lesson 5

Osaka, the Kitchen of Japan
Osaka the number 2 city in Japan

  • Unique culture and humorous people
  • Business outpost

  • Free from serious samurai culture

  • Development of commoners’ culture

  • Land of comedy

  • Osaska and Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Video Source: Cool Japan かっこういいニッポンin大阪

Lesson 6

Edo Built on Sushi

Edo the New Capital

  • Power of the Tokugawa Shogunate

    • Avoiding rebellions

      • Sankinkotai: Daimyo’s attendance to Edo

        • Every 2 years

        • Hostage system

        • Expensive trip

      • Tenkafushin: Construction projects by the shogunate

      • Forcing local domains to spend money

  • Constant construction Works

    • New city plan

    • Repeated earthquakes and fires

    • Increasing population: construction laborers

      • Sushi: street vendor’s food

      • Unbalanced gender ratio 3:1

  • Economic development

    • Money and commodities into Edo:

    • Commoner’s culture

      • Kabuki, publishing,


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