Japanese Cultural Topics Japanese Cultural Tradtions
JAPANESE MYTH: THE UNDERWORLD • God Izanaki and Goddess Izanami created the islands of Japan • when Izanami gave birth to the god of fire, she died from the burns. • Izanaki went to the underworld to see her. But she had eaten the food of the underworld and could not return • Izanami asked the god of the underworld if she could return to her love • Izanaki could not wait and he went to the palace of the underworld. where he saw his wife’s decomposing body and the terrifying gods of thunder. • Izanaki ran using a big rock to block his wife from running after him. • That is the rock which divides the underworld and this world.
July 7th Celebration • the God in the heaven had a daughter named Orihime (means Weaver, the star Vega). • She wove cloths for the god using weaver called as tanahata. • one day she met Kengyuh (means Cowherd, the star Altair) who was a cow herder • Love at the first glance and they now forgot their work letting the cloths of god wasted and cows in ill.
7th of July • The god was angry and separated by Ama no kawa (River in the Heaven, the Milky Way). • Orihime wept and the god pitied her agreeing tp allow them to meet once in a year at the night of 7th of July (July is the seventh month. Seven was lucky number from that time). • If it rains on this occasion, the River of Heaven is flooded and prevent them to meet. • 6th of July, people pray for them not to rain on this day, dedicating Tanzaku (a strip of poetry paper) to the star in various colors writing their wishes (including people's own wishes) hunging them on leafy bamboo.
Japanese Samurai • Came into existence in the 12th century after Japanese clans fought wars against each other - the Taira and the Minamato. • The Japanese shogunate, a system of a military ruler, • Under the shogun the next hierarchy were the daimyo, local rulers. • The Japanese samurai were the military retainers of a daimyo. • Ronin are samurai without a master. • Only 20 percent of Japan's rugged and mountainous area can be used for agriculture. Most fights were over land
Samurai Names • Childhood. At birth, a samurai was given a name by which he would be known until his coming of age ceremony. These were occasionally chosen to sound fortuitous or simply by fancy. In a well-known example of the former, Takeda Shingen was born Katsuchiyo, or '1000 Victories in Succession', or, simply, 'Victory Forever'.
Samurai Names • Adult Names. A samurai typically received his 'first' adult name upon the event of his coming of age ceremony (normally conducted in his 14th year). This almost always consisted of two characters, one of which was hereditary to his family and another that might have been given him as a gift from an exalted personage (including the shôgun),
Samurai Names • Religious names. Many samurai - both daimyô and retainer - adopted Buddhist names at some point in their life, at least nominally taking up a monk's habit and shaving their heads.
The Tea Ceremony • samurai pratice the cha no yu, or tea ceremony. • the tea ceremony in many ways could be a metaphor not only for the samurai ideal but also for the land of Japan itself. • the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa took to the tea ceremony practiced the cha no yu which began to develope a secular following.
The Tea Ceremony • The tea ceremony normally took place in a tearoom, the chachitsu. • samurai leave their swords outside • The tearoom was arranged so that those entering would first spy a scroll hanging in the tokonoma - or alcove. • This scroll was normally of calligraphy, with its subject often that of a simple observation • As this scroll is carefully chosen by the host to reflect a mood or the season, the guests customarily spend a moment appreciating it before seating themselves around a small hearth in the center of the room.
The Tea Ceremony • a light meal (kaisek), a modest serving of sake followed by a piece of fruit or some other light dessert is served • The guests then exit the tearoom while the host prepares it for the drinking of tea, replacing the scroll with a single flower in a vase. • Two kinds of tea will be served: koicha, which is the more formal of the two and possessed of a thicker consistency and bitter taste, and usucha - thinner and more 'informal'.
The Tea Ceremony • Throughout the ceremony, the hosts and guests both aspire towards a sense of tranquility.
Samurai • Samurai warriors had several privileges. They were allowed to wear two swords - a long one and a short one. • Commoners were not allowed to wear any weapons at all. • samurai warriors were even allowed to behead a commoner who had offended them. • The Japanese samurai caste itself had different ranks with different privileges; • kenin - meaning "housemen". They were the administrators or vassals. • mounted samurai - Only high-ranking samurai warriors were allowed to fight on horse-back. • foot soldiers
Samurai Reform • Toyotomi Hideyoshi unified Japan after 100 years of civil war • Introduced a series of reforms; thus changing the life of the samurai class. • the samurai live permanently in castles. • they changed from an army of draftees to an army of professionals. • To finance the system he introduced a rice taxation system to support the Samurai
Seppuku - a Part of Samurai History • seppuku or suicide was connected to honor and disgrace. • One occasion for committing seppuku was the death of the lord. • Other reasons were punishment. Seppuku could also be a way of showing a disagreement with one's master. • A frequent reason for committing hara-kiri was in a lost battle to avoid the disgrace of falling into the hands of an enemy.
Seppuku • Hara-kiri means literally "stomach-cutting" and was the practised form of seppuku. • performed in a formal ceremony. Spectators attended the event. • The person doing hara-kiri had to slice up his abdomen. • When finished he stretched out his neck. An assistant was waiting behind him and had to behead the suicide with one stroke of his sword.
Decline of the Samurai • During the Tokugawa shogunate from 1603 to 1867 (the Edo period) the country lived in peace. The samurai warrior class had basically nothing to do. Now they took other tasks, in the bureaucracy for instance.
The Satsuma Rebellion 1876-1877 • Samurai rebels were lead by Saigo Takamori. • It was a clash of traditional samurai weapons against a modern army • 60,000 government troops faced 40,000 rebels. • Saigo Takamori was wounded and committed suicide in samurai tradition. • The casualty rate was more than 50% percent among the samurai rebels. 2,000 more were executed later. • Saigo Takamori became a hero for the Japanese.
Samurai in Modern Japan • Although samurai do not have any official status in today's modern Japan, descendants of samurai families still enjoy a high esteem among the Japanese population.
Murasaki Shikibu Famous novelist • 'The Tale of Genji' (Genji Monogatari) remains as one of the world's literary milestones – • First example of a novel (or, strictly speaking, a psychological novel). • Genji was also one of the world's longest novels - at 630,000 or so words, it stands at twice the length of 'War and Peace'. • The novel's scope is broad, occurring over the course of about seventy years and involving some 430 characters.