Katana: the Spirit of Japan

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Ancient World to Medieval Times
Week 4 – Artistic Theme Paper
Katana: The Spirit of Japan
[Author's Name Removed]
[Course Ccode Rremoved]: Introduction to the Humanities
Course Facilitator: [Facilitator's Name Removed]February 14, 2004

Katana: The Spirit of Japan
The Japanese sword has evolved alongside with the people of Japan for over a thousand years and has been a striking symbol of the spirit and history of old Japan. History has shown that the nature of the Japanese sword is a reflection of Japan's people, culture, attitudes and tradition. Modern day pop-culture is now focused on Japan's rich history and the craftsmanship of the tireless artisans of old.

The sword has gone through centuries of change and development; unfortunately due to dramatic changes in power during the late Nineteenth Century, much of the ancient traditions have been lost. The fading of the ancient sword making traditions is a symbolic end to the way of the samurai and the beginning of the stifling western influence. The samurai class began a slow decline during the 1800s; one of the defining moments in Japan's history that signified the end of the samurai reign was in 1867 when Emperor Meiji abolished the samurai class (Transition from Edo period to Meiji period) and banned the possession of swords in urban areas. These events caused extreme civil unrest, seppuku (ritualized suicide or hara-kiri), at the time newly banned, became extremely common. During these times, Japan became extremely susceptible to suggestion; European and American forces were permitted entry onto Japanese soil and thus began the westernization and subsequent modernization of Japan.

The lifetimes of hundreds of thousands of men and women have been dedicated to the study, art and meticulous craftsmanship of the sword. During feudal times (Which consists of most of ancient and pre-modern Japanese history), the Samurai warrior was amongst the highest class along with, aristocrats and royalty....
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