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Chapter 5: Japan. Early Japan Shoguns and Samurai Life in Medieval Japan. Japan’s Geography. Japan’s mountains and islands isolated Japan and shaped its society Because of Japan’s mountains, only 20% of its land can be farmed

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chapter 5 japan

Chapter 5: Japan

Early Japan

Shoguns and Samurai

Life in Medieval Japan

japan s geography
Japan’s Geography
  • Japan’s mountains and islands isolated Japan and shaped its society
  • Because of Japan’s mountains, only 20% of its land can be farmed
  • The rugged terrain forced many Japanese to turn to the sea for a living
  • The vast ocean around Japan kept it isolated and as a result, Japan developed its own intensely independent society with its own religion, art, literature, and government
the first settlers of japan
The First Settlers of Japan
  • The Yayoi people were the early settlers of Japan
  • Around 300 CE the Yayoi organized themselves into clans
  • A clan is a group of families related by blood or marriage
  • During the 500’s a clan called the Yamato became strong enough to rule all of Japan
  • Yamato chiefs claimed they were descendents of the Sun God and the emperor of Japan today is a descendent of these ancient rulers
prince shotoku s reforms
Prince Shotoku’s Reforms
  • Around 600 CE, a Yamato prince named Shotoku took charge of Japan
  • He wanted to create a strong government so he looked to China as an example of what to do
  • Shotoku created a constitution and gave all power to the emperor
  • The emperor had the power to appoint all of the government officials
  • Government officials were sent to China to study Chinese art, medicine, government, Buddhism, and philosophy (much which came from Korea)
  • Shotoku ordered Buddhist temples and monasteries to be built throughout Japan
  • In 646 CE the Yamato began the Taika, or Great Change
  • They divided Japan into provinces and they were all run by officials who reported to the emperor
  • These reforms created the first strong central government in Japan
the shinto religion of japan
The Shinto Religion of Japan
  • The Japanese religion called Shinto was based on nature spirits
  • They believe that all things in nature have their own spirits
  • This idea is called animism
  • Nature spirits are called kami
  • The word Shinto means “way of the spirits”
buddhism
Buddhism
  • During the same time the emperor’s government was growing strong, Buddhism became popular
  • Buddhism became a major religion in Japan and had an important role in government
samurai
Samurai
  • Nobles formed private armies to protect their land
  • To create their armies they gave land to warriors who agreed to fight for them
  • These warriors were called Samurai
  • Samurai lived by a code of conduct called Bushido
  • A Samurai would rather die in battle than betray his lord
shogun
Shogun
  • By the early 1100’s the most powerful Japanese families had begun fighting each other using their Samurai armies
  • In 1192, Yoritomo, the leader of a powerful family, was given the title of shogun
  • The shogun is the commander of all of the emperor’s military forces
  • The military government was known as the shogunate
  • Japan’s government was run by a series of shoguns for the next 700 years
  • In 1274 and 1281, the shogunate successfully held off attacks by the Mongols
the daimyo divide japan
The Daimyo Divide Japan
  • As the shogun’s power weakened, Japan broke into warring kingdoms run by rulers known as daimyo
  • The daimyo pledged loyalty to the emperor and the shogun, but they ruled their lands as if they were independent kingdoms
  • To protect their lands they created their own local armies made up of Samurai warriors
  • Samurai became vassals when they pledged to serve their daimyo in times of war and in return the daimyo gave them land
  • This bond of loyalty between a lord and a vassal is known as feudalism
japanese religion and culture
Japanese Religion and Culture
  • Buddhism and Shinto shaped much of Japan’s culture
  • These religions affected Japanese art, architecture, novels and plays
  • The arts of Japan revealed the Japanese love of beauty and simplicity
  • The art of folding paper, know as Origami, was invented in Japan
  • Calligraphy, the art of writing beautifully, was much admired in Japan
  • Japan’s oldest form of poetry was the tanka
  • Tanka was an unrhymed poem of five lines
  • Tanka poems capture nature’s beauty and the joys and sorrows of life
  • By the 1600’s, tanka poems changed into a new form called haiku
  • Haiku consisted of 3 lines of words with a total of 17 syllables
  • The oldest type of Japanese plays were called Noh and they were written to teach Buddhist ideas
  • Some Japanese nobles, merchants, and artisans grew wealthy during the shogun period, but the lives of women remained restricted in many areas of life
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