Japan – a brief History

Download 23.54 Kb.
Size23.54 Kb.
SS8 – Asia03

Japan – A Brief History

Japan is a country located in the north-western Pacific Ocean and is comprised of four main and a number of smaller islands.

The Japanese have been influenced by many countries, such as Korea, China and most recently Europeans. In each case the Japanese have learned from these influences and made them their own.
The history of Japan is a violent history of powerful men trying to control and rule over the whole country.
Japanese daiymos were similar to European feudal lords who control a certain region of Japan and who answered to the king of the country or the Shogun.
Because there were so many daiymos in Japan it was hard for one single daiymo family to hold onto the title of Shogun for long.
The Samurai were the warriors who fought for their daiymo. The Samurai were highly trained and deeply religious fighters who practised Zen Buddhism and the Japanese religion Shinto
The official leader or Emperor of the Japanese people has always been a member of the Imperial Sun line who are believed to be descended from the Japanese sun god, however real power has been in the hands of the Shogun and his daiymos.
SS8 – Asia03

  • Japan – A Brief History

Japan – A Brief History

Directions: Read the attached article “Japan – A Brief History” by Bill Trickey and answer the following questions on a separate piece of paper.
1. Provide definitions for the following vocabulary words;

Archipelago Daimyo Shogun Samurai

Bushido Shinto Divine Intervention

2. Answer the following questions using COMPLETE SENTENCES;

  1. In your own words describe the geography of Japan. Be sure to include the names of the four major islands. (2 mks for quality of work and inclusion of details)

  1. In your own words, describe the relationships between the Emperor, the Shogun, the daimyos and the samurai. (2 mks for quality of response and inclusion of details)

  1. In your own words, describe how the word Kamikaze orginated. (2mks for quality of response and inclusion of relevant details)

  1. What clan held onto the title Shogun for the longest time. How did they insure that the daimyos stayed loyal? (2mks for quality of response and inclusion of details)

  1. Using the map provided in your readings, complete the outline map found opposite.

You will be marked out of 10 for completion, accuracy and quality of work.

Total: ____ / 25

Countries – Colour and Label


South Korea

North Korea



Water Bodies – Colour and Label

North Pacific Ocean

Sea of Japan

Philippine Sea

East China Sea

Yellow Sea

Korea Strait

Major Islands – Colour and Label





SS8 – Asia03

  • Japan – A Brief History

Japan – A Brief History

Archipelago – a series or chain of many islands

Arable – land that is suitable for farming.

apan is an island nation in the Western Pacific Ocean. Japan is made up of four large islands, Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku as well as many other smaller island that make up an archipelago that is over 2000 km long.
Japan’s violent history is a story of constant struggle to united and control Japan. The culture of Japan has been influenced by many different groups of peoples, including the Koreans, Chinese and eventually Europeans. In each case, the Japanese have adapted ideas and have used them to create a very distinct culture.

Because Japan is a series of islands along the Pacific Ring of Fire, the geography of Japan is mostly mountainous with little, flat agricultural land. With a large population, Japan has had to rely upon the seas and other nations to help feed itself. In the past, rulers have fought over the precious arable land in Japan.

Japan like China, and Feudal Europe has had a hard time uniting itself under a single ruler. Japan is a history of competing regional lords called daimyos struggling to become the Shogun or military ruler of all Japan.
Daimyo – a Japanese feudal lord
Shogun – A military leader of Japan, often a former Daimyo who can dominate the other Daimyos in the country.
arly on in Japanese history, Japan was ruled by a single Emperor whose position was thought to be divine or descended from God. The Yamato family was established as the Imperial sun line which Japanese believed that family members were directly related to the most powerful Japanese god, the Sun God. The Yamato family ruled over Japan until the end of the Heian period in 1192. After which, Japan has been ruled by a series of powerful warlords or “Shoguns”. The Imperial sun line continued and a member was always considered to be the Emperor of Japan, but they were mainly figureheads. In reality it was the Shoguns who controlled the country until the 19th century.


A Samurai in Armour

ike medieval Europe, wealth and power rested in the hands of local lords or daimyos who were responsible for looking after the peasants and creating their own armies. Japanese society was and is still today a society that values a person’s status. Like medieval Europe the peasants made up the majority of the population while people like the daimyos and their warriors were considered to be superior. The warriors of feudal Japan were called the Samurai. The Samurai were highly trained archers and swordsmen who were fiercely loyal to their daimyo. The Samurai also prided themselves in becoming highly educated, reflective persons in addition to becoming highly trained warriors. The Samurai code of contact called Bushido encouraged loyalty and honour amongst the Samurai and encouraged them to explore and practice the spiritual Japanese religion Shinto.
Bushido – A Samurai “code of conduct” originally designed to insure a warriors loyalty to his daimyo, but evolved into a way of life for the Samurai
Shinto – A Japanese spiritual or religious practice that combines Zen Buddism and an appreciation or link with nature
fter the fall of the imperial family during the Heian period, there was a civil war in Japan with the victor being a man by the name of Minamoto Yoritomo and it was Yoritomo who was Japan’s first true Shogun that united Japan under one military ruler. The Imperial sun line was still considered to hold the title of Emperor, but it was the Shogun who controlled and managed the country. It was after his death in 1199 that Japan again fell into civil war as rival daimyos fought for control of Japan and the title of Shogun. For the next 700 years a diamyo would rise above the others and declare himself Shogun, but would eventually be replaced by another, this is why Japan has always been referred to as having a violent history.
It was during this time that Japan suffered a devastating invasion by the Mongols of northern China in 1272. The constant struggles between rival daimyos can be faulted for the invasion in 1272, and Japan was only saved from being invaded and completely overrun in 1281 by what the Japanese referred to as divine intervention. In 1281 a vastly superior Mongol naval invasion fleet left China ready to invade Japan. Fortunately for the Japanese, the Mongol forces met with a huge typhoon that sunk almost all of the invasion fleet. The typhoon became known as a “divine wind” or kamikaze, and helped fuel the notion that the Japanese were a special people in the eyes of the gods.

Divine Intervention – a belief that God or a god actively participates in the real world to assist a person or persons.
Kamikaze – a reference to the “divine wind” that saved Japan from the Mongol invasion of 1281. Later the term would be adopted as the name for Japanese suicide bomber during World War II

Japan would continue to be country at war with itself with periodic diamyos claiming the title Shogun, only to be replaced by another. One of the most powerful and long-lasting Shoguns was a man named Tokugawa Ieyasu who kept the Shogunate within the Tokugawa family or clan for fifteen generations. It was the Tokugawa Shogun who moved the capital of Japan to Edo or modern day Tokyo. One of the things that Tokugawa did to insure the loyalty and servitude of over 200 diamyos in the country, was to require that the diamyos and their families spend time every year in Edo (Tokyo). When the diamyos returned to their lands, their wives and children would remain in Edo, almost as hostages, to insure that the diamyo would not plot to overthrow the Shogun.

The Tokugawa Shoguns ruled Japan until 1867, the same year that Canada became responsible for governing itself. By this time Japan had emerged from being a nation that had closed itself off from the rest of the world, to one that was actively trading and learning from the rest of the world. At first, the Japanese resisted Western or European contact, and in fact had to be forced to open its borders to Americans and later European nations. In 1853, Commodore Mathew Perry of the American Navy, steamed four warships into the Edo (Toyko) harbour and threatened to level the city with its cannons, unless it opened its borders for trade. Later on, Japan would embrace western knowledge and trade, adapt it and would eventually become one of the world’s economic superpowers.

Download 23.54 Kb.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2023
send message

    Main page