Japan Under the Shogun. Chapter 13.
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Japan Under the Shogun
Asano knew he had committed a forbidden act- he had drawn his sword in the Edo castle and wounded an important official. As a result on order of the shogun Asano took his own life.
Now that Lord Asano was dead, his 47 samurai became ronin, that is warriors without a master. They had lost their honour and their position in society. Out of loyalty to their master, they swore to avenge his death.
They launched a surprise attack and killed Lord Kira in his home. They had fulfilled their duty in avenging their master, but duty now demanded they kill themselves.
The 47 ronin are buried side by side in Sengakuji Temple in Tokyo. Today, they are remembered as great heroes in Japan.
They say that “to understand the story of the 47 ronin is to understand Japan.”
What stories in Canadian history might help people in other countries understand Canada?
The story of ronin took place during the Edo or Tokugawa period of Japanese history, which lasted from 1600 to 1868. Edo the present day city of Tokyo was the capital and the Tokugawa shogun were the rulers.
In the hundred years war before the Edo period, Japan was locked in constant warfare. Powerful landowners, nobles known as daimyo competed with one another for territory and power.
Tokugawa Ieyasu became the most powerful man in Japan after he defeated a rival daimyo and generals in a great battle.
Three years later in 1603, the emporer made him the shogun. This means he technically ruled the land, the shogun really held all the power.
In order to hold onto power he needed to create a strong shogunate where no one would challenge him or his descendants.
He wanted to create a long lasting government
How? By controlling the daimyo.
had to live in Edo. The cost was high to go back and forth. They were essentially hostages to the shogun. If there was any rumours of a plot of uprising family members would be killed.
2. Sharing Power: The bakuhan of two levels of government was established. The shogunate was similar to our federal government that controlled foreign matters. The daimyo controlled local affairs.
3. Strict Laws: Laws established by the shogunate controlled many aspects of the daimyo’s lives such as dress and marriage. The daimyo had to pay for projects in their territory such as roads and buildings.
Increasing Shogun P
Banned peasants from having weapons
Network of secret police to watch population
¼ of land owned by shogun
Decreasing Daimyo’s P
Without weapons peasants were useless to fight daimyo
Needing permission to marry or to change castles the daimyo couldn’t build up defences
Local daimyo were given villages to govern, collect taxes, keep order and build and protect from floods, natural disasters
Rigid social structure to help the shogun rule. Membership was hereditary (by birth). People couldn’t change situation but some did by hard work, talent or gaining wealth.
Example: Upper class women had to wear 12 silk kimono
with all the right colors showing. Peasants were
not allowed to wear silks.
A samurai textbook from the Tokugawa period had this to say about the wife’s duty to her husband
A woman must think of her husband as her lord, and she must serve him reverently….In her dealings with her husband, her facial expressions and her language should be courteous, humble, and yielding. She should never be peevish or obstinate, never rude or arrogant. When her husband issues instructions, she must never disobey them….A woman should look on her husband as if he were heaven itself.
Princess Sayako is the daughter of Japan’s emporer. Upon her marriage she was forced to give up her imperial title and become a commoner. In Japan she is not allowed to be emporer. At the time many people thought Japan’s imperial system was unfair to women. Princess Masako is married to Princess Sayako’s older brother. For years she was pressured to have a male son. She stepped down from her duties caused by stress.
Example leather tanners, butchers, animal disposers
The definition of Ainu is too narrow as language, music, dance, crafts
Does nothing to reverse years of discrimination
Extremely important in Japanese society. Example the story of the ronin. Obedience to authority was important, but avenging their masters death was more important than the law.
The Tokugawa shogun did not create the Japanese social structure. However they used its values and social controls to support their rule. Social controls are the rules and customs in a society that regulate people’s behaviour. The purpose of social controls is to maintain order in a society.
Older BrotherYounger Brother
To be wise, leader to obey
To support and provide to respect
To protectto honour
As masters of the farmers, artisans, merchants…the samurai used their power to keep order.
They organized lower classes into groups of five families called goningumi. Members of these groups were supposed to help each other. Each person was considered responsible for the behavior in their group. Everyone in the group could be punished if one was disobediant, did not show respect or work hard enough.
Example both believed murder and stealing were wrong
10. How might being a member of a small group benefit people in society? How might it affect people’s behaviour if they knew that everyone in their group would be punished for their wrong behaviour?
11. What rules exist in your school and in your classroom to ensure harmony? Which rules would you change and why?
12. Based on what you know of Japanese society why might the Portugese be considered barbarians?
13. How do you think the daimyo would feel about Christian beliefs? How might it be different from the way a Japanese commoner would respond to ideas?