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Ancient Japan Essay

1597 words - 6 pages

Vladimir jeanHuman beings may have inhabited the Japanese island chain as early as 200,000 years ago. Very little is known about where these people came from or how they arrived on the islands. IT is most likely they crossed a land bridge that temporarily linked the Japanese islands to the Korea Peninsula and eastern Siberia on the Asian continent. The Paleolithic culture of prehistoric Japan gave way to a Neolithic culture around 10,000 BC. Known as the Jomon people, these immigrants used more sophisticated bone and stone tools and low-fired clay pots, but they did not know how to work metalsThe arrival of paddy rice cultivation, bronze weapons, and iron-working techniques in Japan around 300 BC revolutionized the lives of the islands' inhabitants. Agriculture enabled peasants to store food from year to year and encouraged them to abandon the nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle and live in fixed settlements. The use of iron farming tools as well as other implements made of wood increased peasants' productivity, and as productivity grew, so did the population. By 300 a.d the new agricultural way of life had spread to the majority of the population.The earliest settlers of the islands did not have a very complex political organization. They lived in small, relatively self-sufficient village communities. Eventually, clusters of villages united in small territorial or tribal units under local chieftains.For all of their expanding influence, the rulers were not absolute monarchs, nor were their powers clearly defined. They relied on chiefs of subordinate clans to manage local peasant populations. The clans controlled their own territories although years of war divided the Clans along class lines: members of the top clans gained special privileges. These nobles began military aristocracies. Incidentally early Japanese structures were highly matriarchal which gave women relatively equal social status.During the first few centuries in what is known as the Common Era the Yamato clan extended its domain over in Central Japan. The clan Chieftain proclaimed himself Emperor and imposed tribute on all of the Land under his rule. Under the new Emperor Japan kept close ties with Korea which to the introduction of Buddhism in 552 IN 645 the Yamato rulers initiated the Taika reform which were influenced by a growing Korean influence and the idea to build the countries defenses . Eventually the Taika reform turned out to be a deliberate attempt by Yamato rulers to create a centralized government. In the 7th century the Yamato rulers embarked on a massive importation of Chinese political institutions, laws, and practices to strengthen their position. The Yamato court was impressed by China's Tang dynasty, which reunified the Chinese monarchical state after nearly 400 years of division. The turn toward the continent was promoted by the chiefs of the Soga clan, who managed the Yamato ruler's treasury and had become powerful patrons of Buddhism.The imperial government...

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