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Kokoro and the Meiji Era

Page history last edited by cdaniels@... 12 years, 6 months ago

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Edo Period (1600-1868)

  • Tokugawa clan holds office of shogun for 15 generations

    • territories are controlled by Daimyo

  • Marked by the closing off of Japan to foreign influence after the Shimabara Uprising of 1636


    • The solidification of social class

    • A flourishing in the arts

    • Kabuki




  • Many measures to make people responsible for others

    imposition of sumptuary laws

    The Tokugawa Shogunate rules the country.





  • After unifying Japan, Hideyoshi tries to extend Japanese rule to Korea and China with no success.
  • He stratified Japanese society: Samurai, farmers, artisans, merchants, untouchables (The Burakumin)
  • Only samurai were allowed to carry swords.





  • Tokugawa Ieyasu goes one step further, eliminates all rivals for control after Hideyoshi’s death, is named shogun, and moves the capital of power to Edo (Tokyo) 
  • Redistibutes wealth among the Loyalists that helped him, giving the most to those who were of greatest help. 
  • Makes the Daimyo (feudal lords) spend every other year in Edo to keep them from rebelling.
  • He also promotes foreign trade while trying to keep Christian missionaries out of Japan, but warlords are interested in Christianity because they want to trade with the west.
  • Forces 1st son to commit suicide and wife is executed for treachery



The Edo Period


  • The Tokugawa Shoguns rule Japan for 250 years of peace.
  • Neo-confucianism: Stressed the importance of morals, education, and hierarchical order in government and society.




  • With no more fighting to be done, Samurai begin to educate themselves in the cultural arts as well as the martial arts.


The Closing of Japan


  • Shogun Iemitsu decides to cut off all outside influence in 1639.
  • He forbids trade with all but China and Netherlands, and even forbids foreign books.


The Decline of the Tokugawa clan


  • Declining finances
  • Natural disasters
  • Social Hierarchy breakdown (rise of merchant claass and subsequent dependence of Samurai class.



The Black Ships


  • At the end of the 18th c., the pressure to open their gates becomes too great and in 1853 Commodore Perry and his “Black Ships” barrel into Japan.



Meiji Restoration (1868-1912)


  • Emperor Meiji takes over in 1868 and moves his residence to Edo, the capital
  • Democratic State
  • Breakdown of social classes
  • Human rights
  • Emperor reclaims all Daimyo land
  • Country divided into prefectures
  • Education reformed on French and German models.
  • Employed 3000 "foreign experts" and sent many Japanese students overseas.
  • The Daimyo became governors
  • Rebellions abound in the samurai "class"
  • While emperor is in charge, again it is mostly symbolic and he takes direction from a cabinet of old samurai and businessmen
  • The zaibutsu rise in power and influence.


By the End of the Meiji Era, Japan had:


  • a highly centralized, bureaucratic government
  • a constitution establishing an elected parliament
  • a well-developed transport and communication system
  • a highly educated population free of feudal class restrictions
  • an established and rapidly growing industrial sector based on the latest technology
  • a powerful army and navy 


Backlash to Westernism


  • Shinto once again emphasized as an integral part of Japanese essence (Kokutai)
    • divinity of emperor a focus
    • State-supported schools
  • Military reformed (universal conscription)
  • Increased Nationalism 



Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895)


  • Japan moves to control Korea
  • China also wants control of the peninsula
  • In Korea, the Donghak Peasant Rebellion Starts
  • Japan and China send forces in to “suppress the rebellion.”
  • China loses Korea, Eastern Mongolia, and Taiwan, but is forced to return most of it by external powers - Russia, England and France
  • Meiji reforms key in Japan’s win






Natsume Soseki (1867-1916)


  • Born into a samurai-class family at the beginning of the Meiji Era.
  • At the age of 2 he was adopted by a former household servant
  • Studied Chinese and English at Tokyo University in 1890
  • After graduating, he taught middle school in a rural area
  • Received a gov’t scholarship and went to england for 3 years starting in 1901
  • One of his central themes was the conflict between individual needs and the demands of society.


General Nogi



  • Born in 1849
  • Was a major in the army against the Satsuma Rebellion
  • In a fierce battle at that time, he lost the 14th Infantry Regiment’s regimental banner to the enemy, which was considered an extreme disgrace.
  • In the first Sino-Japanese war he occupied Port Arthur and invaded Taiwan
  • During the Russo-Japanese war he lost many men at the battle of Port Arthur
  • Even though he was going to be relieved of duty, the Emperor publicly defended him
  • Even though Nogi asked to be allowed to commit suicide, the Emperor told him he had to stay alive until he himself died.



Nichiren (1222-1282)



  • “The revolutionary nature of Nichiren's achievement lies in the fact that he made it possible, for the first time, for all people to actually practice the highest teachings of Buddhism by providing a methodology whereby they can establish a life-condition of absolute happiness, unswayed by changing outer circumstances.”
  • “Enlightenment is an awakening to the true nature of life, including the profound realization of the interconnectedness of all things — the inseparable relationship between the individual and the environment and the ability of each human being to powerfully influence both. This realization leads the individual to assume personal responsibility for his or her own condition of life and for that of the environment.’
  • Started studying Buddhism at age 11
  • Advocated his path as the only path.
  • Tried to have the gov. stop funding other forms of Buddhism
  • In 1271 he was arrested and nearly beheaded, but was saved by a flash of light.
  • He then began to tell people he was the reincarnation of the Buddha.
  • Exiled 3 times (3rd time by choice)


Outside Links:


Virtual Tour of Edo


Picture representing the Black Ships incident


Black Ships Scroll


A Scholar's Tour of the Scroll


Social Structure Pre-Meiji


Storyboard of Meiji Life


Page of Pictures from Meiji Era Japan


More Photographs

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