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Old 05-20-2005, 10:47 AM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, From the Top (Discussion thread)

Hello,

I am glad I found this thread. Discussing the intracacies of other cultures whether modern or archaic is always good. I think it possible to divide the Feudal Japanese culture in so much as needed for this disussion board in four different headings. I would like to state in the outset, anyone can publish anything on the internet. I've found almost all of my relegious teachings from books, as I've notices misprints, misinterpretations, and the such on the internet. Having said that here goes:

The first and most important aspect of Japanese Feudal culture would be the philosphical and relegious believes of the time. First off it would be appropriate to actually date when we are speaking about. Everything I've read about developement of this game suggests it will be set in the 16 century. By the way, this is just my take on things, what I've learned, and by no means a fully comprehensive study on the culture of that time.

One of the most influential and still practiced Japanese relegions is Shintoism. Shinto is the first of recognized relegions in the area. Shinto's focus was on nature, trees, streams, even mountains were revered as dieties often times. There was no true structured church of Shintoism, it was more an archaic belief that nature itself was the higher power. This lead to a respect of nature, and Shinto has hints and undertones of mysticism as well. The Emperor of Japan still holds to Shintoist believes. The Shinto belief was less focused on society and its well-being and more on the spirit of the individual and his relationship with nature and things natural. A healer would make a great Shintoist priest.

The second major relegio-philosphical movement to move into Japan was Buddhism. The concept of Buddhism was founded by Sidhartha Gautama, born in India, he roamed and looked for the meaning of life in vain. He started as a Hindu mendicant. He tried everything imaginable to come to the realizations of his life. Starving himself, going without sleep, you name it... but one day he sat under a tree, and realized he had all of the answers he needed inside himself. This of course was the famed "Bodi Tree." All he had to do was to uncover the realizations. This was done with meditation. The eight fold noble path was developed. I recommend reading the Dammapada, as it is full good wisdom and its writing is credited to Sidhartha Guatama. The term Bhudda is translated as "enlightened one". Many legends exist of his life and his travels and teachings, he died and the mark he left on the world will be felt forever. Loving Kindness is at the root of Buddhism, it explains that wisdom and compassion should be of equal value to one traveling the Buddhist path. Karma is a major part of Buddhism, as is reincarnation, and our place in the Karmic Wheel. The goal is to evolve as much as possible, becoming enlightened being the pinnacle <a Buddha>. The concept of Bodsittivas is a Buddha that postpones thier enlightenment to help others in their quest. Bodsittivas are as close to a diety as possible in Buddhism too from my understanding, simliar to saints in Wester relegions. Moderation and setation of desires are the main precepts of Buddhist believes, and through this, coupled with meditation one, a person leaving a restrained life, better controls themself, thier mind, and thier life in general. Buddhism is interesting in so much as at its foundation it says not to follow dogmatic teachings or writings. By doing this the relegio-philosphical belief of Buddhism stays fresh and ever-evoloving. Sidharth Gautama lived around 500 AD - 600 AD.

Buddhism by nature invokes thought and questioning your environment and the situations in which you live. It was through this that a new school of Buddhism was born. Called Zazen Buddhism, as zazen translated means to sit or to meditate. One of the major principles of the Buddhist believe is that through meditation one can not only calm thier mind but come to supernatural realizations - satori. Zen Buddhism was born from questioning the beauracracy of the Buddhist church, and the sophistry it created. Sophistry was where students of a certain temple would basically be able to buy thier status in the temple, instead of actually progressing in the church. There are two major schools of Zen Buddhism Renji Zen and Soto Zen. Soto Zen in its nature is to question everything, put all of your energy into every task you do. The Zen Master Dogen is credited with starting the Soto Zen school of Buddhism. While you medidate, medidate, while you eat, eat... do not let your mind wander or become distracted. Without distractions, legendary swordsmen have been forged as death is ever-present on thier minds and in thier hearts. Concentrating all of one's self to one task, if that task is handling a katana nothing less than lethal. It is the constant knowledge that death is part of life, and instead of being afraid, embracing and living life to the fullest at every moment. For a beautiful writing on this, find the Diamond Hard Sutra of the Zen Samurai. That is the text I read it as, it may be another text or go under another name. In closing, meditation has said to release special powers of the mind/spirit by calming the body. This backdrop would lend itself well to perhaps a mage/priest/warrior.

Other believes that influenced 16 century Japan were Confuciousism, which was formed by Confucious. He taught, virtue, "The Law", laws of the universe, fial piety, and politics. Fial piety is respect for your parents, respect for authority, structure of society, and doing what you can do to make it better and keep the laws of it. The main writing of his was "The Analects". In it, virtue is of the utmost importance, he talks about mourning for your parents when they pass, political matters of the time, and other matters worth writing on.

Confucious was a Taoist. Taoist believes hinge on Yin and Yang concepts found in the Tao, called duality. By nature all things will strive for balance. Not only here on Earth but in the Heavens as well. There cannot be evil without good, there cannot be death without life, and there cannot be dark without light. Knowing this and striving for the balance held within is the main principle of Taoism. Lao Tsu and "Tao Te Ching" are good reading on the subject. Taoism is translated as "The Way" . Taoism and Confuciousism were more from China, but did influence the 16th century believes of Fuedal Japan. Sun Tzu and "The Art of War" are also excellent reading on the subject. In so much as possible, he tries to give leaders a way of avoiding war while at the same time giving detailed lessons on the subject.

All of this is what I've learned along the way. If anyone has any other take on things, or wants to discuss any aspect of any of these statements or new statements feel free to reply. I am sure I have left things out, but this what I can remember on a Friday morning, hahaa.

I'll write down my take on the caste system of the time and the feudal hierarchy later on.


Lord Shin
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Last edited by ShininShado; 06-12-2005 at 12:13 AM.
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Old 05-20-2005, 11:03 AM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, From the Top (Discussion thread)

Since you mentioned the "Tao Te Ching" and "Art of War" I would also point people towards Wang Chen's "Martial Tao Te Ching" (or "Tao of War") and one of my favorites "The Six Secret Teachings" by the T'ai Kung, pretty much the father of "unconventional" warfare.

For all of these I suggest Sawyer's translations...but the Denma Group did an excellent "Art of War"
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Old 05-20-2005, 07:52 PM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, From the Top (Discussion thread)

Hello,

Thanks, I'll check those out. The Diamond Hard Sutra of the Zen Samurai might be under a different name or title. Well suited to this environment. Ummm, the text I was thinking of was the Samurai Creed. Was thinking of the Diamond Sutra and the Samurai Creed at same time, was rusty when I wrote first message, haha.

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Old 06-04-2005, 06:20 PM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, From the Top (Discussion thread)

Sorry about the long absence. Fortunately, after exams (over by 14 June), I will be able to devote lots of thought to this without wondering why I am doing more essay-writing.

Shin, thanks for your post. I'll integrate it into what I have written.
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Old 06-07-2005, 08:29 AM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, From the Top (Discussion thread)

Think I have the hang of this now, I'll post info here, let you add to the main one up top. Found this on farming.

Some information on farming during Feudal Japan.

There was a class known as the ‘ji-samurai’; while they were officially of samurai lineage, they were farmers, merchants, and artisans as well. They were the ‘rung of the ladder’ between the samurai who did nothing but serve their lords, and the peasants who were strictly farmers. However, they were also being strangled by taxes, and soon came to seek the protection of Daimyo. This came at a price though; they not only pledged themselves and their clan to their warlord, but they gave him their land as well. Much of this changed, though, when the ji-samurai and peasants alike formed groups called ‘ikki’, who were essentially independent defense corps. They lead a revolt in Kyoto, which triggered similar revolts all throughout Japan to get the attention of the Daimyo. Thirteen years later, they revolted again to stop taxes, besieging Kyoto with riots and arson. After a week of rioting, the Shogunate was forced to cancel all debts, thus relieving the people of their stress. This, however, was a two-edged sword.
From website http://www.gamingw.net/articles/100

Explanation of value of koku and other info.

Feudal Japan functioned much like medieval Europe where farmers paid taxes to feudal lords in the form of crops. In Japan, taxes were levied based on the amount of rice produced or koku (one koku equaling approximately 5 bushels). For this reason, the more land a feudal lord controlled, the richer he became which led to many years of political conflict throughout Japan. In fact, until 1868, rice was Japan’s basic economic unit much like gold had been in Europe. Unlike in Europe, however, the farmer's social station was quite high. The social ladder was structured with the Emperor and ruling class on the top, then the samurai, then the farmer and at the bottom were the merchants and service class.
From website http://www.japancorner.com/rice.asp

Next thing I'll do research on will be the technologies either introduced or already in use during the 16th Century.
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Old 06-13-2005, 10:34 PM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, From the Top (Discussion thread)

Added. Thanks.

Last final exam is tomorrow. Then freedom!


Edit: To show my thanks for your work keeping this alive, you now have a place of honor at the top of the first part of the compilation.

Quote:
This post will hold the extended essay itsself. All original authors will be credited for their work. All citation information from the original posts will be preserved here.

Special thanks to ShininShado, who has found a lot of information and keept "From the Top" alive while I neglected it.

Feudal Japan, From the Top
-A collaborative effort at a comprehensive description of the setting of this game.

Culture
Overview of the Religions of Japan
by ShininShado

One of the most influential and still practiced Japanese relegions is Shintoism. Shinto...

Last edited by Gryph; 06-13-2005 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 06-19-2005, 12:21 AM
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Default Essay on Architectural Influences and Construction in 16th Century Japan.

Thanks for the credit Gryph, but thanks for starting the original thread!! Hopefully giving some background will lend itself to some good roleplay and if nothing else better understanding of the culture and lives of Feudal Japan.

I guess best place to start would be where most of the influences came from for Feudal Japanese architecture. Most of these original influence came from China.
  • Periodic dispatch of Japanese envoys to the Tang Dynasty in China was stopped 100 years after the construction of the Heian-kyo capital, in today's Kyoto, at the end of the 8th century, and this official disconnection with China started the "Japanization" of cultural assets received from China. Japanese people gave birth to and refined architectural styles and techniques that thus became unique to Japan, just like they invented their own phonetic letters or kana based on Chinese characters. (Website http://www.kippo.or.jp/culture_e/build/history.htm)

    Historically, architecture in Japan was influenced by Chinese architecture, although the differences between the two are many. Whereas the exposed wood in Chinese buildings is painted, in Japanese buildings it traditionally has not been. Also, Chinese architecture was based on a lifestyle that included the use of chairs, while in Japan people customarily sat on the floor (a custom that began to change in the Meiji period [1868–1912]). (Website http://web-jpn.org/factsheet/arch/develop.html)

Other influences included climate.
  • Architecture in Japan has also been influenced by the climate. Summers in most of Japan are long, hot, and humid, a fact that is clearly reflected in the way homes are built. The traditional house is raised somewhat so that the air can move around and beneath it. Wood was the material of choice because it is cool in summer, warm in winter, and more flexible when subjected to earthquakes. (Website http://web-jpn.org/factsheet/arch/develop.html)

Buddhism also had a great deal of influence over Feudal Japanese buildings.
  • When Buddhism came to Japan in the sixth century, places dedicated to the worship of Buddha were constructed, their architectural forms originating in China and Korea. In each temple compound, a number of buildings were erected to serve the needs of the monks or nuns who lived there and, as importantly, to provide facilities where lay worshippers could gather.
    The main hall contained the most prominent object of worship. The lecture hall, which in early temples was most often the largest structure, was used by monks as a place for study, instruction and performing rituals.
    (Website http://web-jpn.org/factsheet/arch/buddhist.html) Zen gardens had their place during this time, arrangements of sand, stones and trees, they were a symbol of tranquility and a place for monks and layman to meet and have discussions or just contemplate life. Link here for an interactive chance to create own garden.

Shintoism was as well a contributing factor of Japanese architecture during the 16th Century.
  • Followers of Shinto believe that a kami (deity) exists in virtually every natural object or phenomenon, from active volcanoes and beautiful mountains to trees, rocks, and waterfalls. Shinto shrines are places where kami are enshrined, and also where people can worship.

    Rather than follow a set arrangement, shrine buildings are situated according to the environment. From a precinct’s distinctive torii gate, a path or roadway leads to the main shrine building, with the route marked by stone lanterns. To preserve the purity of the shrine precinct, water basins are provided so that worshippers can wash their hands and mouths. Komainu, pairs of lionlike figures placed in front of the gates or main halls of many shrines, serve as shrine guardians.
    (Website http://web-jpn.org/factsheet/arch/shinto.html)


Novel building ideas of the time.
  • Incorporated into Zen monasteries and temples: On the ceilings of such halls as Shokokuji Temple, Tenryuji Temple and Myoshinji Temple in Kyoto are drawings of dragons. In Shokokuji Temple, when you clap your hands, a long reverberating echo, traditionally called the "roaring dragon", is heard. This sound is in fact caused by the ceiling. A sound produced between two parallel planes, the floor and the ceiling, repeatedly bounces between them, causing acoustic reflections and subtle overlapping of echoes. The result is unique sound waves, the roar of the dragon. (Website http://www.kippo.or.jp/culture_e/build/archi.htm) Dragons and clouds were a popular theme of Zen temples.
  • Another novel idea that was used sometimes to detect intruders, "Nightingale Floors": At some temples, when you walk on the floor you hear the floor sing with your every step. This type of floor is called a nightingale floor, and the singing sound is produced as the clamps used to fix the floorboards rub against holes in the floor boards as a person walks above. The beautiful sound was associated with the singing of a nightingale, hence the name. This phenomenon has been found to be naturally caused by the warping of the floorboards from long years of wind and rain or by the expanding of the holes due to the heavy load of people walking above. (Website http://www.kippo.or.jp/culture_e/build/archi.htm) There are stories of this technique used to warn of intruders as well.

Shiro is the term used for a Japanese Castle, and was a major part of Feudal Japan.
  • The need for castles arouse after the central government's authority had weakened in the 15th century and Japan had fallen into the chaotic era of warring states (sengoku jidai). During that era, Japan consisted of dozens of small independent states which were fighting each other and, for defense purposes, were building small castles on top of mountains. (Website http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2296.html)
  • Shiro’s were built on strategic sites to take advantage of the position itself (eg. height advantage, difficult access for an aggressor, water and supply availability, ease of communication and control of transport routes). The three main situations shiro’s were built were;

    1) on the top of a hill (yamajiro);

    2) and on a hill surrounded by a flat plain (hirayamajiro);

    3) on a flat plain (hirajiro).

    A yamajiro (J. mountain castle) was usually built on a mountain top or some other elevated position, constructed using walls of rocks and earth to reinforce the natural defences of the site, a moat was optional. This form of castle was the favoured form prior to the latter half of the 16th century, were the lessening of civil strife began to show an effect.

    A hirayamajiro (J. flatland hill castle) was constructed on a hill on a plain, thus taking the positional advantage of the surrounding area.

    A hirajiro (J. flatland castle) was developed after the necessity of the yamajiro fortification declined with the cessation of civil war in the 17th century. These castles were built on the plains and served as administration centres of the surrounding area.

    The basic design of a shiro consists four main elements:

    1) Moats or hori;

    2) Walls or ishigaki;

    3) Gates or mon;

    4) and Towers or tenshu.
    (Website http://www.angelfire.com/wy/svenskildbiter/shiro.html)
  • More about construction of the shiro. The typical, large castle consisted of three rings of defense, with the so called honmaru ("main circle") in the center followed by the ninomaru ("second circle") and sannomaru ("third circle"). The castle tower stood in the honmaru, while the lords usually lived at a more comfortable residence in the ninomaru.

    In the town around the castle, the samurai were residing. The higher their rank, the closer they lived to the castle. Merchants and artisans lived in special areas, while temple and entertainment districts were usually located just outside the city. Tokyo and Kanazawa are two good examples among many Japanese cities which evolved as castle towns.
    The main construction material for castle buildings used to be wood, as can be witnessed when visiting the interior of one of the surviving original castles. Most newer reconstructions, however, are made of concrete, and their interiors are modern. Most castles now house a museum.
    (Website http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2296.html)

Next essay on living quarters of the samurai, farmer, artisan and merchants.
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Last edited by ShininShado; 06-19-2005 at 12:30 AM.
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Old 06-19-2005, 08:14 AM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, From the Top (Discussion thread)

Hey Let's not forget the overall effect of Christian missionaries in Japan. Though they were few, the counter-religion (which i love) provided another european influenced thing to seperate and divide the nation from traditional to modern. And now Christianity is one of the leading religions in Japan. \
And i'd love the see the cultural struggle Christianity had more in the cursades section.
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Old 06-19-2005, 03:30 PM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, From the Top (Discussion thread)

Thanks for bringing this topic up, gives me an excuse to research some. Hmmm, though Christianity hadn't really emerged in Japan until the mid 16th Century, I do not doubt that it did have some affect on the culture there. Although, from the research I found, Christianity was basically outlawed by the first half of the 17th Century, seeing as Jesuits and Franciscans were sometimes slaughtered after this ban on Christianity, I am not sure how much of the Christian influence was felt in the realm of architecture. The Feudal Age of Japan was ending as Christianity started to take a foothold. I skipped Christianity all together in the relegion post, as I figured it would go hand and hand with firearms from the Europeans, and incorporating that into the game design would be tough without explaing firearms. If there was any influence of Christianity of architecture in Feudal Japan it was minimal, even though it did alter other aspects of Japan's history. Also, Christian influence was more based upon the culture of the missionaries rather than having its own influence in most cases. Missionaries in South America looked Spanish in nature, while missionaries in other parts of the world may have looked simliar but instead of the "Christian" influence it was more a mirror of the culture of the missionaries who traveled to new lands. Several articles about the subject:

  • Great changes for Japan began in the middle of the 1500's. This was when the Jesuits arrived in Japan. They followed many of the same methods they were using in India. A historian, William E. Griffis, wrote, "Whole districts were ordered to become Christians. The bonzes [Buddhist priests] were exiled or killed, and fire and sword as well as preaching were employed as a means of conversion." Truth Triumphant 377. For a hundred years the patient Japanese people put up with the destruction caused by the Jesuits. Finally they unified to get rid of the foreigners in their country. Signs were made which said, "Christians to the sea." To make sure outsiders wouldn't disturb them, the Japanese banned all foreigners from entering their country. For the next two hundred years Japan was cut off from the outside world. (Website http://www.tt.writtentreasures.org/part_5.html)
  • Christianity had an impact on Japan, largely through the efforts of the Jesuits, led first by Saint Quick Facts about: Francis Xavier
    Quick Summary not found for this subjectFrancis Xavier (1506- 52), who arrived in Kagoshima in southern Kyushu in 1549. Both daimyo and merchants seeking better trade arrangements as well as peasants were among the converts. By 1560 Kyoto had become another major area of missionary activity in Japan. In 1568 the port of Nagasaki, in northwestern Quick Facts about: Kyushu
    The southernmost of the four main islands of Japan; contains coal fieldsKyushu, was established by a Christian daimyo and was turned over to Jesuit administration in 1579. By 1582 there were as many as 150,000 converts (two percent of the population) and 200 churches. But bakufu tolerance for this alien influence diminished as the country became more unified and the openness of the period decreased. Proscriptions against Christianity began in 1587 and outright persecutions in 1597. Although foreign trade was still encouraged, it was closely regulated, and by 1640 the exclusion and suppression of Christianity had become national policy.
    (Website http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/enc...chi_period.htm)
  • Following the accidental landing of a Portuguese ship in 1542 at Kagoshima Prefecture, the zealous Christian missionary Francis Xavier arrived in another part of the territory in 1549. Xavier, left for China in 1551 (dying soon after departure), but his followers converted a number of daimyo (warlords), the most notable of whom was Omura Sumitada. His conversion was to prove profitable, as a deal was struck in which he would receive a proportion of the trade from Portuguese ships at a port that the two parties established in 1571. This port was Nagasaki.(Website http://uk.holidaysguide.yahoo.com/p-...saki_history-i)
  • The timing of Xavier's arrival in Japan and the founding of his Christian missions corresponded closely with the end of Sengoku period and of the Onoin wars and the beginning of the efforts to u nify Japan by Oda Nobunaga. The same year (1552) that Xavier left Japan seeking entry into China for his missionaries, Oda Nobunaga became the ruler of the Oda Diaymo in Owari Province and began the unification of Japan by a constant series of military conquests. This was a very turbulent time in Japanese history and the internal politics of the unification of Japan was a complex affair of interactions between warring factions within the country. Oda Nobunaga embraced and encouraged the manufacture and use of firearms, a technology that was brought to Japan by the Europeans, and by doing so completely changed the way in which warfare was conducted in Japan. (Website http://www.artsales.com/ARTistory/Xavier/Xavier_1.html)
  • In the year 1542, the first Europeans from Portugal landed on Kyushu in Western Japan. The two historically most important things they imported to Japan were gunpowder and Christianity. The Japanese barons on Kyushu welcomed foreign trade especially because of the new weapons, and, therefore, tolerated the Jesuit missionaries. The missionaires were successful in converting quite large numbers of people in Western Japan including members of the ruling class. In 1550, Francis Xavier also undertook a mission to the capital Kyoto.

    Towards the end of the 16th century, the Jesuits lost their monopoly position in Japan when Franciscan missionaries arrived in Kyoto despite a first banning edict by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In 1597, Hideyoshi proclaimed a more serious banning edict and executed 26 Franciscans in Nagasaki as a warning. Tokugawa Ieyasu and his successors continued the persecution of Christianity in several further edicts.


    Monument for the 26 Franciscans in Nagasaki.

    The main reason which led to the complete extinction of Christianity in Japan by 1638 were the government's intentions to excert absolute control over its people. This would not have been possible with the interference of an aggressive and intolerant foreign religion like Christianity of that time.
    (Website http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2298.html)

  • Even some of the daimyos and shoguns of the time actively supported Christianity, the most prominent among them being Oda Nobunga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (although Hideyoshi's support can be seen just as an offshoot of his intense hatred of Buddhism). While Nobunga rose to power, in fact, "Christianity approached the status of a state religion".

    This period of tolerance, however, abruptly came to an end in the early 1600s, culminating in the total banning of Christianity by the Tokugawa regime in 1640. When a young man named Amakusa Shiro led a popular Christian uprising at Shimabara in 1638, he and tens of thousands of his followers were massacred.


    The Japanese, and especially the Tokugawa rulers of the time, saw Christianity as a symbol of the "dangers of European colonialism" The Japanese have always been somewhat distrustful of the West, lasting until Commodore Matthew Perry forcibly "opened" Japan in 1853. Christianity was thought of as a "foot in the door" through which the Western powers such as Great Britain, Portugal, Spain, and France were increasing their influence upon Japanese affairs. The Japanese rulers saw this as a threat to their unquestioned control, and so they began their merciless persecution of Christianity--over the next two hundred years, "all families were to be registered at a Buddhist temple...Christianity was virtually eliminated from the country.
    (Website http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=986571)
  • Tensions between the Buddhists and the Jesuits began as early at 1565, when the Buddhists "persuaded the imperial court to expel the Jesuits from the capital." However, this order was reversed four years later, so all throughout Nobunga's reign, with his encouragement, the Jesuits could practice freely. Nobunga's successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, followed the example of eliminating the power of Buddhist groups. However, he did also practice a sort of religious tolerance towards a section of Buddhists, as well as all other religions at that time. This tolerance was the reason that in 1587, though he issued the "Edict of Banishment of Missionaries" he did not enforce it until ten years later. The edict stated that "henceforward, anyone coming from India who does not interfere with the laws of the Shinto and Buddhist deities may come freely to Japan." This edict was a result of anti-Kirishitan beliefs among his advisors, the Kirishitan daimyo's power struggle, and the disunity of Kirishitan groups. Most alarming still was the almost complete control the missionaries had on parts of Japan.
    Ignoring this edicts, the Franciscans arrived, bringing with them discord and rivalry with the established Jesuit faction. This very public rivalry, as well as the shipwreck of the Spanish ship the Sam Felipe, are listed as direct causes of the martyrdom of 26 men in Nagasaki, in 1597, and the additional order than all Jesuits leave the country immediately.
    Upon Hideyoshi's death in 1598, the persecution of the Kirishitan's stopped. His successor, Tokugawa Iyeyasu, wished to pursue trade with the Portuguese and Spain, so he made peace with the Jesuits and Franciscans. This peace lasted until 1614, when a ban was placed on the Kirishitan religion, on the grounds "that it was detrimental to the welfare of the nation and contrary to the teachings of Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism." The edict also made Buddhism a branch of the governmental structure. Two years later, and even stricter policy on banning Kirishitans was issued, proclaiming that those caught practicing the religion could receive the penalty of death. This intensified persecution escalated, until the seclusion of Japan was put into effect in 1639. At that point, all the Kirishitans who had not been hunted down, killed, or tortured wisely hide their heads, and their faith.
    (Website http://people.stu.ca/~gxlbw/truth/report3.htm)

As far as modern day believes in Japan; By 1996, less than 2.5 percent of the Japanese population were Christians though the numbers had greatly increased to 3,170,000. (Website http://www.asianinfo.org/asianinfo/j...m#CHRISTIANITY), Christian 1%, of whom Evangelicals 0.32% (Website http://www.us.omf.org/content.asp?id=23594) Other sites I read ranged from 2.0% to 0.7%, as opposed to the 85% of Shinto or Buddhist or a combination of both relegions.
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Default Housing of samurai, artisans, and merchants in Feudal Japan.

Housing in any society can reflect many aspects of its culture. As can be expected, the pinnacle of Feudal Japanese housing belonged to the Emperor, followed by shogun, daimyo and other family or clan leaders of the time. Of course, one needed resources in the form of koku to build castles, and there was a culture centered around the building of these castles, sprawling towns sprung up around the castles, known as "Castle Towns", wherein the workers used to create the castle, just made their houses around the castle. This also provided fodder in case of invasion, and gave the troops inside the castle time to react. This essay is about the different lower castes of Medieval Japan and the housing they lived in, the construction, and other interesting aspects. It should be noted that shoes of any sort were not worn in most dwellings in Feudal Japan.

First off, under the daimyo and shogun caste, was the samurai caste. Comprised almost exclusively of warriors, the samurai <translated means he who serves> held both status and power during the time. The actual samurai, whom comprised daimyo's gaurd, retainers to Lords, and whom generally were held by the principals of honor and duty to family and clans to which they served, often times owned their own land, granted them for protection and servitude by the daimyo. Another name for the samurai class was the bushi. Bushi <warrior> and do <ways> translate to bushido or warrior ways or the way of the warrior, and was the code with which most samurai lived their lives.

Knowing that samurai owned their own land, and were often times paid by the daimyos they served, allowing for greater housing and circumstances than almost any during the time. Most of the houses were built "primarily of wood, paper, and thatch and clay tiles(1)." Though this lead to more vulnerablity to fire, it also meant that they could repaired more easily in the case of an earthquake or bad storm. It should be noted as well, though samurai had estates of their own, many lived right on the outside of the castle of the Lord they served, allowing for greater security of the castle and the territory they lived.

The actual construction of the samurai's house consisted in most cases "of several single-story buildings surrounding a small garden or courtyard(1)". These rooms served different purposes for their location. One of the first rooms guests would enter would be "a reception chamber which houses the tokonoma - an alcove in which the family's treasures are placed, along with a wall hanging which is changed according to the season. This room also contains a small altar dedicated to the ancestors.(1)" Worshipping ancestors and honoring their memory was very important to the Shinto way of life, and building an altar with which to remember them was commonplace. The rest of the home is decorated with very simple decorations, "futons (sleeping mats)(1)", tables, and braziers for warmth during winter months. Another important part of the samurai's home was "a formal audience chamber (which) contains a raised dais for the lord to sit on, and probably folding screens in case someone wants a "private" conversation.(1)" Paper walls were also used in the construction of the samurai's home.

Tea ceremonies became popular during the Feudal age of Japan, and a special place to have these ceremonies came to be, called tea houses. These structures were either in the garden of a Lord or samurai, or sometimes actually attached to the home. The only real purpose of these structures were to host tea ceremonies and "tea houses in Japan are usually small, wooden buildings and are located in remote, quiet areas or in the gardens or grounds of larger houses.(2)" The construction of the the tea house was relatively simple and "is usually built of wood and bamboo, and the only entrance and exit is a small, square door which symbolically separates the small, simple, quiet inside from the crowded, overwhelming outside world, and encourages humility in the host and guests, as all must kneel to enter the room. Tea houses usually consist of two rooms, one used for the preparation of food, snacks and tea supplies, and the other for the holding of the tea ceremony itself.(2)" Removing ones shoes or sandals before entering was a must for tea houses.

It should be mentioned too, that depending on the geographic area of the home, it varied with the roofing, floor, or walls. The Northern most would have to built to withstand the snow, and the Southern most the heat. As far as farmer's homes, "some farmers' houses had space to keep their cattle and horses indoors, while the houses of city dwellers were often squeezed close together along the streets.(3)" As well, houses during the Feudal time period were at times constructed with stilts or with the floor being lifted from the ground, in case a flood.

In contrast to the samurai's home being one central building with serveral built around it, for the most part, "a peasant dwelling is usually a single larger building. Few heimin can afford ceilings, raised floors, or paper walls; instead, walls are made of wood, or plaster over bamboo. Instead of braziers, there is an irori (fire pit) which is used for heating and cooking. (1)"

As well, "peasants living in cities usually have row houses; the price of the lot depends on its width, since access to the street is of vital importance. Workshops and stores are located in the part of the building facing the street, while the inner part serves as living quarters.(1)" This was common of the lower castes of the merchants, and artisans, and "as urban homeowners were taxed based on the width of the front side of the house, their houses were built to be long and narrow.(3)"

Very few of the actual houses from Medieval Japan exist today as wood was the main building material used, most that do are national treasures.


Bibliography:

1: http://agatepalace.org/youngsamurai.phtml
2: http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/enc.../tea_house.htm
3: http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/virtual/house/history.html
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Last edited by ShininShado; 06-21-2005 at 09:38 PM.
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