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History Of Japan Essay, Research Paper

History of Japan

The history of Japan dates back to 30,000 b.c. where it is believed that Japanese people are descent from Mongolian people because of the similar physical features of fold in the eyelid, a yellow tinge in pigmentation, black hair and so on. A large portion of Japan is very mountainous so that leaves 17 percent of surface area available for agriculture. Japanese people main line of business is products of the sea, for example: fish, shellfish and edible seaweed. The next culture group appears much later and that is the Yayoi the existed between 300 and 100 b.c. and they were an agricultural group growing rice fields much like the chinese. In these times shinto was the main religion in Japan, which has no founder, no inspired scriptures, and no moral code. In 522 b.c Buddism was formaly introduced to the Japanese and scholars were send to Japan as thanks from king of Paikche in Korea. For a long period of time there was a series of dynastic quarrels, and Soga Umako came into power and Empress Suiko took the throne, then her nephew took over Prince Shotoku 572-622 b.c. He was respected for his learing and beloved for his goodness. In 607 the famous Horyuji monastery was built and within the monaster he built his own residence and chapel know as the hall of dreams.

In 710 the capitial of Japan was fixed for the first tiem and located at Nara and the early days there had been no single captial. One of the earliest known examples of printing was in japan, at the beginning of the Nara period the shinto lengends were written down in Kojiki and Nihongi (chronicles of japan). The Heian period, which began with the establishment of the imperial at Heian Kyo(KYOTO), saw the full assimilation of Chinese influences and the flowering of an indigenous aristocratic culture. The development of the Japanese KANA syllabary gave birth to a truly native literary tradition, including some of the finest works of Japanese poetry and prose, such as Murasaki Shikibu s masterpiece, the Tale of Genji. Politically, the Heian period was characterized by the domination of the imperial court by regents of the Fujiwara Family. This age also witnessed the growing power of provincial warrior bands and the proliferation of private estates(SHOEN), which together brought about the disintegration of the Ritsuryo system of centralized government.

Minamot No Yoritomo s victory in the TAIRA – MINAMOTO war heralded the beginning of the Kamakura Periord and the rise to political power of the provincial warrior class. His appointment of provincial governors(SHUGO) and estate stewards(JITO) established the foundations of the Kamakura shogunate , the first in a series of military governments that would rule Japan until the mid-19th century. Other developments of this period included the eventual political ascendancy of the Hojo family, the Mongol invasion of Japan, the introduction of ZEN Buddhism, and the emergence of new popular sects that spread the Buddhist religion among the common people.

The destruction of the Kamakura shognate by the forces of Ashikaga Takauji signified the beginning of the Muromachi Period, an era of great cultural achievement and persistent social instability. The first decades of the MUROMACHI SHOGUNATE were disrupted by conflict between two rival imperial lines (northern and southern courts). The shogunate was unable to restrain the ambitions of powerful provincial governors(Shugo Daimyo) and collapsed entirely after the Onin war, which ushered in a century of civil strife known as the Sengoku Period (1467 – 1568). At the same time, the Muromachi period saw the impressive development of new artistic forms such as No and Kyogen, as well as ZEN-insrired arts such as the tea ceremony, flower arrangements, and ink painting.

The Azuchi-Momoyama period defined by the rise of three successive leaders, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokuga Wa Ieyasu, who brought about the political unification of Japan following a century of civil war. Warrior Patronage supported the construction of castle throughout the country and a spectacular flourishing of the decorative arts, epitomized by the opulent style of artists such as Kano Eitoku. During this brief period, Japan was also exposed to Western(NAMBAN) culture through contact with European traders and missionaries.

The Meiji restoration of direct imperial rule commenced the Meiji period and Japan’s transformation into modern industrial society. Restoration leaders welded former feudal domains into a modem nation-state, established a centralized bureaucracy, enacted a new land tax system, and created a modern conscript army. Abolition of feudal classes and the establishment of universal education helped create a unified national polity. The 1889 Constitution of Japan established the first parliamentary government in Asia. During the latter part of the period Japan emerged as a major imperialist power through victories in the Sino-Japanese war of 1894-1895 and the Russo-Japanese war and the annexation of Korea in 1910.

The Taisyo period was marked by the advent of true party government, increased popular involvement in politics, the growth of organized labor and left-wing movements, and a domestic economic boom fueled by WWI. The democratic tendencies of the period, often referred to as Taisyo democracy, were supported by the emergence of an educated urban middle class and the rise of new forms of mass and paperback books. Eventually, however, an economic downturn and authoritarian measures such as the enactment of the Peace and Preservation Law of 1925 and the expansion of the special higher police began to erode the gains made by Japan’s first experiment with democracy.

The Showa period was one of the most turbulent in Japanese history. In its first decades on ultranationalist coalition of right-wing politicians and army officers seized control of the country. After World war two in 1945, Japan’s defeat ushered in a period of occupation by Allied military forces and sweeping democratic reforms that included a new constitution of Japan. The postwar decades saw recovery from the war, reentry into the international community, and phenomenal economic growth that transformed Japan into the world’s second largest economy by the end of the period.


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