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Medieval Japanese Culture Essay

771 words - 3 pages

The medieval age in Japan spans the 12th to 16th centuries which is considered the time of disintegration and warfare. Most historians consider the Kamakura period (1185-1333) the dawn of medieval Japan. This period marks the transition to land-based economics and a concentration of advanced military technologies in the hands of a specialized fighting class. Medieval society was shaped largely by the emerging power and status of warriors who resided in the provinces.The fundamental underlying belief of medieval Japanese culture is to fit in with everyone else. Stay in one's place and don't go against power. To know your place in relation to others is to be secure. In the Edo era, rank order was fixed: everybody knew his place on the social ladder and that determined where one lived, what one wore, and how one spoke to others."Sense of being a social unit" (Christopher 249) explains the extraordinary degree of loyalty to the family and others. Japan is a constant discipline culture. You should never think big of yourself. You should always consider, "What will others think of the things that I do?" (qtd. in Richey 2). Everything is ritualized with other human interaction (bowing, honorific speech, serving tea, etc).The most significant aspect of medieval Japanese society was domination by the warrior class. For nearly 700 years, warriors ruled the country. Only members of the warrior class could serve as military rulers, also known as shoguns. Both civil and military affairs were managed by the warrior class. There is constant warfare in medieval Japan. The society is torn apart by this warfare and people seek solace in religion. Buddhism, which had up until now been primarily the religion of scholars and monks, becomes the religion of ordinary people and the popular.By the 1500s, a class of territorial military lords, or daimyo, emerged. The daimyo establish and maintain their domains (called han), build castles, and establish towns around their castles where their samurai retainers reside and serve in their armies. Samurai values of service to a lord and personal loyalty became central to Japanese cultural tradition over the centuries. The loyalty of a samurai is said to have been unconditional and utterly selfless.Literature in medieval Japan reflects the Buddhist notion of the impermanence of life and the need to renounce worldly attachments...

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