Japan: A Country of Changes
Located in East Asia, near China and Korea, Japan offers a rich, complex and interesting history. There is a wide array of countries which would surely be interesting to develop on; however, I have always had a fascination with Japan in particular. The differences between their way of living and ours are so extreme that elaborating on them would be unquestionably captivating. In Quebec, the Japanese culture is not taught, nor considered important. International sides of it are showed on television, such as Animes or movies but, what is mostly known about Japan is their peculiar modern culture. I believe educating people on this country’s history would surely bring understanding on the subject and hopefully encourage a more positive attitude toward the differences that make the “Country of the Rising Sun” what it is. From its origins to the modern Era, this paper will discuss the drastic changes of the Japanese culture in modern society. Let’s start by explaining the origin of the word “Japan”. Nihon, the Japanese way of saying Japan, is formed by two kanjis: 日(ni) and 本(hon) meaning respectively “Sun” and “Origin”. The reason is because of its location. Being at the extreme East, the country earned the name of “Country of the Rising Sun”. Japan is composed of exactly 6,852 islands scattered over a distance of 377,944 km2 and is home to more than 126,659,683 “nihonjin” which means “Japanese”. Its history began in 300 years B.C. with the Jōmon period. Divided in numerous parts, the eras are as following: Ancient Japan (-300 to 538), Classical Japan (538-1185), Feudal Japan (1185-1868), the Tokugawa Period (1603-1868), the Empire of Japan (1868-1945) and finally Post War Japan (1945-present). I will be focusing more on the Tokugawa Period or commonly known as the Edo period, one of the most influential time for Japan. Under the Tokugawa Shogunate, shoguns being military dictators picked by the Emperor to be the rulers, Japan was at the time secluded from the world. The term used to describe that period is “Sakoku” which means “chained country”. Under this dictatorship, no foreigners were allowed into the country as Japanese were not allowed to leave it, risking death penalty. Everything was precisely controlled as to what the public was allowed to see and what they could know the existence of. However, as secluded as Japan was, the Edo period is still considered to be the start of the economic growth, as well as being a prosperous time for Japanese arts and culture. During Sakoku, Japan studied Western sciences and techniques in aspiration to create Japanese products that would surpass any others. Also, arts were strongly promoted to Japanese citizens as being a way to effectively spend their spare time. Some prominent forms of art were Geishas, music, the Kabuki and Bunraku theaters, as well as poetry, painting and ukiyo-e, woodblock prints. Finally, the Tokugawa Period collapsed by Japan’s forced opening to the world by the U.S military. However, the anti-shogunate movements and the rise of Western technology contributed to the downfall of Edo. Then, in the 1940s, the events of World War II happened. Because of tensions between China and Japan and the contribution of the U.S government to Chinese threats, on November 1941, the Japanese attacked the Pearl Harbor, a naval base in Hawaii. Though it missed the principal facilities which would have crippled the U.S military’s operations, it certainly angered and provoked them into seeking revenge. This revenge was the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which happened respectively on August 6th 1945 and on August 9th 1945. These 14 tons of explosive filled bombs have been dropped by the American Bombardier Enola Gray, in hope to eradicate the threat that was Japan. The military casualties caused by either the bombing or starvations are over 2.1 million and the civil lives taken come to a total of approximately 600,000 people. Japan...
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