The Creation Story of the Japanese Emperor In 660 BC Emperor Jimmu was crowned the first emperor of Japan, is was a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu, who in Shinto is the also the god of the universe. Her name literally means “Shining in heaven” The Lengths/Limitations of Chinese Cultural/Political Influence on Japan Some of these influences are: ● Language. The Japanese had no written language at the time of their first contact with the Chinese and their use of Chinese proved important for the purpose of political unification under the Japanese Emperor. ● Religion. Buddhism and Confucianism are important features of Chinese culture. As a systematic belief system, Buddhism forced the local Japanese religions, which were less coherent systems, to define themselves in relation to Buddhism. Confucianism, a systematic religious belief system, had a lot to say about governance and society and proved attractive for the Japanese. Consequently it had an important influence on Japanese culture. ● System of government. The method of organization of the Imperial Court, a significant element of ancient Chinese culture, was also adopted by the Japanese. The Japanese Imperial Court as well as its bureaucracy, including titles, ranks and functions, soon came to be modeled after Confucian principles. City-planning is also an aspect of Chinese culture borrowed by the Japanese. Kyoto and Nara, capital cities constructed along these lines, are examples. Several localities around these old capital cities reveal a system of fields and irrigation systems divided into even rectangles based on the ancient Chinese model of city planning. The use of a road system to hasten communication and control rebelling localities are also important features of this system of planning. The Rise of the Shogun (1192) In 1192, the first shogun was appointed. The shogun is appointed by the emperor, but has most of the political control while the emperor is there for theological reasons. Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun (1192–1199) of the Kamakura shogunate, or military government. Japanese Feudal Structure The structure goes as follows: Shogun (also the most powerful daimyo), Daimyo, Samurai, and then the majority: Farmers/Peasants, Artisans, Merchants. Merchants are the worst because they were believed to be lazy (profiting from the work of the farmers and artisans.) The Mongols and Kamikaze The Kamikaze (神風, Japanese for divine wind), were two winds or storms that are said to have saved Japan from two Mongol fleets under Kublai Khan. These fleets attacked Japan in 1274 and again in 1281. Due to growth of Zen Buddhism among Samurai at the time, these were the first events where the typhoons were described as "divine wind" as much by their timing as by their force.
Influence of Europe in the 1500’s Before around the late 1500's there had been no western influence, any foreigners caught in japan at this time was likely to have his head chopped off on the spot. Commodore Perry (American) and his fleet of ships arrived, the Japanese realised that the travellers had far superior technology and this first meetings sparked perhaps the biggest changes in Japanese history. With technology came big changes to the country, merchants (who had previously been the lowest class) became very wealthy and powerful, as they were able to trade a lot more. The leaders at the time, the Shogun, was forced out of power allowing the emperor to retake his rule. All remaining Samurai were wiped out by the new conscript army, armed with portuguese rifles. And so the old feudal system of shogun and samurai was destroyed, it became illegal to wear swords and even the samurai hair style (which was a symbol of great honour) was banned. Tokugawa Isolation and the extent of / reasons for isolating Japan The isolation stopped any foreigners from coming in to the country and the Japanese from leaving. This effort was to get rid of christianity after Spain conquered the Philippines....
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