JapanBy Shelby Densman and Maggie Hersam

Map1

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Political Map of 17th-18th Century Tokugawa Japan - Worlds Together Worlds Apart Online Edition, iMap

Political Backdrop2
In the 17th century, Japan experienced problems of instability from lack of centralization of power. Daimyos were ruling families that kept watch over the regions of Japan and commanded private armies of samurai. No one daimyo family had authority over another, and the emperor’s power didn’t extend beyond the (first) capital at Kyoto so power was never truly asserted under a single rulership. Political Japan changed when Tokugawa Ieyasu, who came to power in 1603, assumed the title of shogun (instead of emperor) and solved Japan's problem of succession by declaring that rulership was to be hereditary, that "his family would be the ruling household". The new social hierarchy of Japan consisted of the shogun, who was a military leader; the daimyos, who were regional ruling families (similar to European nobles); and the rest of the population—which consisted of artisans, merchants, and peasants. The daimyos were constantly watched over by the shogun in order to help the unification of Japan. One general arranged marriages between the children of the daimyos to solidify political bonds, and also ordered that daimyo wives and children be kept as semi-hostages in houses they looked after in Edo, the Tokugawa capital. Ieyasu changed the way Japan was run by assuming a different title than emperor in order to assert his power on a larger scale—militarily and politically—and changing the location of the capital to Edo from its original location at Kyoto.

Economic Backdrop3

Japan’s economic success relied on taxes from villages, which would allow the daimyos to transfer resources to the seat of the shogunate authority. Agriculture thrived under the Tokugawa shogunate because Japan no longer constantly engaged in warfare. Peace brought prosperity--and prosperity brought economic success.
In terms of trade, Japan only allowed Protestants and non-missionizing Dutch to have access to trade there because of the pressing concern for the intrusion of Christian missionaries and the influence of their rebellious ideas. The Tokugawa also avoided trade with Europe because of the possibility that trading at various Japanese ports would pull Japan's commercial regions in different directions and away from the capital at Edo. Edo was the shogun's preferred place of trade because it created a more organized and centralized trade system in one single location. Despite the issue of European trading, trade with China and Korea flourished, and brought in information about the outside world without Japan taking financial and political risk to enter it.

Timeline4






Aspects of Culture
Social Backdrop5
In 17th & 18th Century Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate, social hierarchy was primarily and traditionally based on age, gender, and kin. Male elders from a well-respected family, for example, often had a lot of power compared to a young orphaned girl. Daimyos were ruling families—based in a specific region—that commanded private armies of samurai. Military leaders often tried to centralize the government through elite families, like marriages between daimyo children.
Japan had a small upper class which enjoyed an elite culture of masked theater, elegant tea rituals, and stylized painting. Contrasting to this elegant lifestyle, the lower class enjoyed a more urban culture. Geishas were female entertainers that played the shamisen (a three-stringed instrument), told stories, and performed. They were an important aspect of lower-class culture because of their popularity among men and traditional Japanese image. Along with Geishas, the lower class enjoyed Kabuki, a type of theater that consisted of songs, dances, elaborate costumes and theatrical acting.
Ukiyo (the floating world) was the concept of upper and lower classes turning upside down because popular entertainment celebrated the colorful world of the common people, rather than leadership and the upper class.


Education6
The education of much of the population in Japan, especially in Edo, was greatly influenced by the Europeans. The knowledge from Europe started spreading to Japan, which eventually led to the lifting of the ban of foreign books. In fact, many Dutch educational texts about science, geography and medicine were translated into Japanese. A Japanese-Dutch dictionary was even created in order to further the knowledge of the Japanese. In particular, one man named Hondo Toshiaki began studying European texts. He found that this new knowledge would be helpful to Japan, and would enable advances in science which would also help with trading. The education of Japan began to grow thanks to the help of European texts and translations.


Artistic Innovation
Buraku.jpg
Bunraku: Heads of four puppets by the University of California, San Diego located in Japan
Bunraku.jpg
Bunraku: Tsuri Onna by the University of California, San Diego located in Japan
These two pictures above represent the art of bunraku puppets. Bunraku puppets were an interesting form of Japanese theater in which three people control one puppet in order to act out a scene.7 This type of performance is a very unique spin on theater that is popular mainly in Japan.


Geisha_2.jpg
Geisha Blackening Teeth at 1:00 p.m. by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi located in the Los Angeles, California
Geisha.jpg
Geisha by Cherry Trees at 3:00 p.m. by Tsukioka Toshitoshi located in Los Angeles, California
These two above images feature the well known Geisha. A geisha was a performer that dressed up in a kimono and lots of make up. They often played the shamisen, which is a three stringed instrument. Geisha's were unique to Japanese culture.8


Male_Actresses.jpg
The actors of Ichikawa Monnosuke II (left), Iwai Hanshirt IV (center), and Iwai Karumo (right), on a landing backstage by Katsukawa Shunsho located in The Art Institute of Chicago collection
Another form of theater in Japan was called Kabuki Theater. This type of theater banned female actors, and therefore men had to play women roles. This is an image representing this drastic change in theatrical performances in Japan.9
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WOODBLOCK PRINT: Kingfisher with Irises and Pinks by Katsushika Hokusai located in London, England
This is another example of Japanese art. They created wood block prints which were very intricate and detailed.

Classic Literary Text10













This is a copy of the Confucian Analects. Neo-confucianism had a significant impact on Japanese culture because it standardized the social hierarchy in Japan and set moral codes and behavioral ideals for followers to live by.
Religion11
There were various religions in Japan during this time period, many of which were influenced by the Chinese. One main religion was Buddhism, which led the lives of some people, for example, some would travel to China in order to meet with Chinese monks or meet with Zen Buddhists. This importance of Buddhism led to the construction of several Buddhist temples. Another religion, called Shinto, began to develop in Japan. This was a native religion that emphasized worshipping gods in nature. They believed in spirits, or kami, who were said to be associated with aspects of nature. This was another religion, like Buddhism, that led the lives of the people. Finally, a third religion that was very powerful is Confucianism. This influenced the social hierarchy of the region, and emphasized teachings such as filial piety and loyalty to those who were above in rank. Although they were not the only religions of Japan, the three main religions proved to be Buddhism, Shinto, and Confucianism.

Architecture12

temple.jpg
Kinkakuji by John C. and Susan L. Huntington located in Tokyo Japan
temple_2.jpg
Saiin at the Horyuji by John C. and Susan L. Huntington located in Nara Japan
The above two images feature the complex architecture of the Japanese. Although architecture was not their main focus, they did create build several Buddhist temples.
teahouse.jpg
1064 Tea House 'Ebisuya', Enoshima by Yamazaki Kimbei located in San Francisco, California
This image is another example of Japanese architecture. It is a tea hosue in which in which a form of drama, called No drama, was performed. It allowed hereditary schools of actors, tea masters, and flower arrangers to develop.



Observations about what we have learned.

The culture of Japan is very unique, especially with its multiple styles of theater and important religions. There are many pictures and images displaying the many types of theater Japan had to offer in 1500-1780 which were interesting to explore. These included bunraku puppets, kubaki theater, and several others. These theatrical performances tie into the social hierarchy because the expected lower class people such as musicians, actors and actresses ended up becoming quite popular among both the lower and upper class. The social hierarchy also ties into religion, in that it was determined based on the religions of the time, particularly Confucianism. The education in Japan was mostly influenced by the Europeans, and resulted in a drastic change in laws. Laws once prohibiting translations and texts from the outside world were repealed, allowing education to flourish. Although architecture was not a major aspect of the Japanese culture, it did play a small role. Much of the major architecture had to do with Buddhist temples, which was another major religion in Japan at the time. Japan had a very artistic and religious based culture that proved to be very unique compared to other regions.

It was an interesting experience, being able to research and understand the culture of 17th-18th century Japan. Not knowing much about the true differences between Chinese and Japanese culture, it was exciting to be able to finally understand those subtle yet massive contrasts. Through internet and book research, it was discovered that Japan's culture consisted of both traditional and contemporary customs and ideals. Though social hierarchy consisted of kin, age, and gender,--which was a traditional way of organizing society--modern ideas of risqué art and theatrical performances referring to the lower class juxtaposed the two factors of Japanese culture.

Footnotes:
1 Robert Tignor, Worlds Together Worlds Apart: A History of the World, 3rd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2011), Online Reader, vol. 2, chap.13.
2 Robert Tignor, Worlds Together Worlds Apart: A History of the World, 3rd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011), 511; 513
3 Robert Tignor, Worlds Together Worlds Apart: A History of the World, 3rd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011), 511; 513.
4 Robert Tignor, Worlds Together Worlds Apart: A History of the World, 3rd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011), 511; 513; 522; 540-541; 558.
5 Robert Tignor, Worlds Together Worlds Apart: A History of the World, 3rd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011), 511-514; 539-542.
6 Robert Tignor, Worlds Together Worlds Apart: A History of the World, 3rd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011), 541.
7 The Drama Review: TDR. (1987; MIT Press, 1971), vol. 12-31, http://www.jstor.org/stable/.
8 Karin Hoffecker, The North American Review. (2002; University of North Iowa, 2002), vol. 287, http://www.jstor.org/stable/.
9 Robert Tignor, Worlds Together Worlds Apart: A History of the World, 3rd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011), 540.
10 Confucius, The Analects. (NuVision Publications, LLC, 2007), http://books.google.com/books.
11 Robert Tignor, Worlds Together Worlds Apart: A History of the World, 3rd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011), 540-541.
12 Robert Tignor, Worlds Together Worlds Apart: A History of the World, 3rd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011), 540.


Bibliography:
Confucius, The Analects. (NuVision Publications, LLC, 2007), http://books.google.com/books.
Hoffecker, Karin, The North American Review. (2002; University of North Iowa, 2002), vol. 287, http://www.jstor.org/stable/.
The Drama Review: TDR. (1987; MIT Press, 1971), vol. 12-31, http://www.jstor.org/stable/.
Tignor, Robert, Worlds Together Worlds Apart: A History of the World, 3rd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011).
Tignor, Robert, Worlds Together Worlds Apart: A History of the World, 3rd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2011), Online Reader, vol. 2, chap.13.