The Rise of Feudalism in Japan Global History and Geography I name

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The Rise of Feudalism in Japan

Global History and Geography I Name: __________________

E. Napp Date: __________________
The emperor was an important political and religious figure in Japan. However, by the 1100s, the emperor’s power was so weakened that Japan collapsed into civil war. Unable to control the lords of Japan, the emperor lost his political power. A system of feudalism arose in Japan that was similar to feudalism in Western Europe. Lords and their private armies became very powerful.
By 1192, Japan’s most powerful lord or noble had the emperor appoint him as Japan’s “Supreme Military Governor” or Shogun. For the next 600 years, the Shoguns were the real rulers of Japan, while the emperors acted as mere figureheads. The Shogun stood at the top of the Japanese feudal system. He was the most powerful lord in Japan. The Shogun was a military dictator.


  1. What happened to the emperor of Japan in the 1100s? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  2. What arose in Japan in the 1100s? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. Define Feudalism. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  4. Who was the Shogun? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  5. Why did the Shogun rule Japan? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The highest nobles next to the shogun were the daimyos. A daimyo was a noble landowner or a lord. Daimyo controlled larges estates, or pieces of land. Daimyo also had private armies or armies of warriors fought for the daimyo. The daimyo gave land to warriors or samurai, which means “one who serves” in exchange for loyalty and protection. Samurai were warriors on horseback and fearless soldiers who carried swords. They believed that to die in battle was an honor. Samurai practiced the Code of Bushido.

The Code of Bushido was the samurai’s code of honor. The Code of Bushido demanded that a samurai be loyal to his lord and brave. A samurai had to obey orders and practice self-discipline, or control over one’s feelings and actions. Honor was the most important thing in his life. If a samurai lost his honor, he had to commit seppuku or hari-kari. He had to kill himself with his own sword. The Japanese believed that seppuku restored or brought back honor.

  1. Define daimyo. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  2. Who were the samurai? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. Describe the relationship between a samurai and his daimyo. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  4. What was the Code of Bushido? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  5. How could a samurai regain his honor? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Japanese feudalism and European feudalism were similar in many ways but there were several differences. In Europe, when a lord died, the oldest son generally inherited his land. In Japan, a man chose the son who could best take care of the land or if he had no heir, he could adopt a son. In Europe, women were considered weak even though respected. In Japan, samurai expected their wives to be tough and self-disciplined. Finally, knights did not think education was important but samurai valued education.

List three differences between Japanese and European Feudalism:

  1. ________________________________________________________

  2. ________________________________________________________

  3. ________________________________________________________

In an outline, one of these is the main topic and the others are sub-topics. Which is the main topic?

1- Shogun 3- Samurai

2- Daimyo 4- Japan’s Feudal Period
Which was a characteristic of feudalism in both medieval Europe and Japan?

  1. Merchants acquired more power than any other class.

  2. Political power was held by a strong central government.

  3. The army encouraged strong national feelings among the people.

  4. People pledged absolute loyalty to their social superiors.

The code of bushido of the Japanese samurai is most similar to

  1. belief in reincarnation and karma of Hindus

  2. practice of chivalry by European knights

  3. teachings of Judaism

  4. theory of natural rights of the Enlightenment writers

Feudalism in Western Europe was similar to feudalism in Japan in that

  1. power was based on class relationships

  2. equality among the social classes

  3. direct democracy

  4. monotheism

Which is a characteristic of a feudal society?

  1. rapid social change

  2. high literacy rate

  3. industrial-based economy

  4. rigid class structure

The diagram illustrates the social structure of feudal Japan.

This pyramid shows that feudal Japan had


  1. a classless society

  2. a growing middle class

  3. high social mobility

  4. a well-defined class system

Word Bank:
Archipelago, Daimyo, Emperor, Fixed, Knights, Spirits, Natural Resources, Irregular, Mountains, Seppuku, Kami, Samurai, Shogun, Shintoism, Caste, Bushido, Feudalism

“The warrior doesn't care if he's called a beast or a dog; the main thing is winning.”

Asakura Norikage (Japanese Samurai)

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