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Decline Of Feudalism Essay

932 words - 4 pages

In what ways and why was feudalism in Japan declining before the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853? Japan was a feudal society in the time that the Tokugawa Shogunate was ruling. Like the Qing period in China, the Tokugawa period was a long, stable rule because it was very closed, hermetically sealed even. However, little did the Tokugawa know, Japan¡¦s stability of feudalism would lead to its own decline. There was, at the time before the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853, the key factor that would bring any society down to its knees. There was discontent amongst the people of Japan. A major factor that keeps a feudal society functioning is the willingness of the citizens to play their roles. Because people of all classes rely on and are responsible for eachother in a feudal society, even a small group that refuses to play their role in the society can make the system collapse. That was exactly what was happening in Japan, as the people of all classes were discontent and thus, unwilling to do their jobs. The daimyo were the highest of class amongst the Japanese besides the Shogun and emperor. So, it¡¦s only fair that they¡¦re respected and given a significant part in the shogunal government. However, the Bakufu who demanded that they practice the ritual of sankin kotai treated them almost degradingly. First off, the sankin kotai was something that daimyos had to do to keep their positions. It involved walking to Edo on a yearly basis. This, of course, kept them in debt because of the expenses needed to travel long distances like food, shelter and clothes. It was also a major waste of time that they could have instead used to train the armies of their domains. When the daimyo were in debt, whether it was because of the sankin kotai or the fact that they had to pay for samurais¡¦ rice, they had to turn to the merchants to borrow money. Because money making was seen as the lowest of the low in their beliefs, borrowing from people who do so was even more shameful. The mean, strong, destined-to-be-warriors samurai were unhappy as well. They no longer played their part in the society, which was a sign that the feudalism was declining. I think the quote, 1¡§They are mean spirited, and behave like shopkeepers¡¨ made by Sugita Gempaku, a Japanese scholar of the late 18th century, best describes the building tension that the samurai must have had knowing that they weren¡¦t doing what they trained all their lives to do ¡V fight. The samurai also had considerably low incomes. Their allowances were worth almost nothing when the economy raised the price of rice without...

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