Pagodas-tower-like buildings with upturned, tilted roofs Buddhism

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Study Guide on Medieval Japan

Directions: For Part one you are to identify the following vocabulary/important words to know.

Pagodas-tower-like buildings with upturned, tilted roofs

Buddhism –Began in India, came to Japan from China by way of Korea. Buddhism strongly influenced Japanese religion, art and architecture.

  • Pure Land –appreciated and worshipped nature, focused on how to be happy life after death.

  • Zen-practiced marital arts and meditation to train the mind and promote discipline. Focused on life presently.

Samurai –warriors who fought to the death.

Code of Bushido-code of belief carried by the Samurai pertaining to obedience to their lord whether they have the skills or not to be educated it does not matter but rather discipline should succeed. Ultimately, life will come again to them and they should therefore never surrender and fight to the death. Honor will come in death.

Daimyo-military lords of feudal land

Shogun-titled given to Minamoto Yoritomo the commander of the Minamoto armies who was awarded this royal title.

Shintoism – Japan’s original religion which expressed the love and respect of nature and worshiped spirits called Kami.

Sect - A religious group

Tanka-5 line poetry adapted from the Chinese

Please identify how the following countries were influential to Japan (think about cultural diffusion):

Korea- sculpture, music, and Buddhism was spread lastly from Korea to Japan

India-Stupas inspired Chines pagodas, Buddhism developed here

China-new kinds of music such as gagaku and instruments came to Japan from China, Japanese was only a spoken language. The Japanese had no writing system of their own. Written documents were in Chinese, a language the Japanese had learned from Korean scholars.

What was the importance of the tea ceremony?

It represented that an agreement between leaders was finalized. Similar to a handshake in our society.

What characteristic do Samurai and Zen Buddhists have in common?

They both practice martial arts

What were Japan’s earliest literacy works? What is a Tanka?


-Novels: The best known writer was Murasaki Shikibu who wrote the Tale of Genji. Which is considered one of the great works of world literature. It also is known as the world’s first novel.

Describe a Samurai’s armor and weaponry

Made completely of metal. Samurai’s used swords that were meticulalously made through a very vigorous, high temperature metal working. Many Samurai swords were decorated with objects to represent themselves. Most famously the cherry blossom flower to represent the shortness of their lives.

Below prepare for your essay comparing and contrasting the Code of Bushido and the Samurai in medieval Japan to the Code of Chivalry to knights during medieval Europe. Start with a prewriting activity such as a graphic organizer (venn diagram comparing and contrasting)

Some facts about Samurai “one who serves”

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