Ohio 7th Grade World History/Japanese Feudalism

Japanese Feudalism edit

Edo Castle during the Japanese Feudal period.

Feudalism was not unique to Europe. In Japan, an analogous system was being developed. Japanese feudalism stretched from the twelfth through the nineteenth century. Both government systems were based on land.

Like in Europe, the emperor would give land to daimyo, or great lords. The Japanese emperor’s had only a limited power. He was just a powerless head of the government. A king is similar to an emperor and a lord was comparable to a daimyo. A shogun was a powerful military leader who was higher in the hierarchy than daimyo. Although technically the Emperor is the head, the shogun was the one who made the actual decisions, but usually with the Emperor’s consent.

Peasants were similar to noumin. Peasants made up 90% of the population, which included farmers and craftsmen. The peasants were divided into a series of classes, with farmers being the highest class and merchants being the lowest.

During the early 17th century, the rulers of Japan started to follow a policy of seclusion. They suspected that traders, merchants and missionaries wanted to bring Japan under the control of European powers. Except the Dutch and the Chinese, all foreigners, traders and merchants from other countries, and missionaries faced restrictions. They also ordered some foreigners to leave Japan. Still, even during the period of seclusion, the Japanese continued to gain information and knowledge about other parts of the world.

Feudalism lasted much longer in Japan than in Europe, not disappearing until the 1800s. Although the feudal systems of Europe and Japan were similar, their cultures were very different.

The Samurai edit

Image of a Samurai

The knights of medieval Europe were very similar to their feudal counterpart in Japan; the samurai. Both warrior groups followed a detailed code of honor. Chivalry was the code of conduct for the knights of Europe, and for the Samurai the code was known as Bushido. Both codes of honor talked about respect and modesty, but also required fearlessness and loyalty. Knights fought for their lords and in return the lords gave the knights land, which was called a manor. The samurai, on the other hand, fought for their lord in return for food like grains and rice. Another similarity between samurai and the knights is that they were both respected by their cultures for their dedication and hard work. Knights and samurai were also trained to treat people with respect and honor, especially women. A knight’s life consisted primarily of training and fighting, as did the samurai’s life. The type of residence a samurai was allowed to own depended on his lands and income, in other word, his status. The samurai lived in longhouses, these longhouses were split into apartments and a normal arrangement was to have a gateway with a row of rooms as its upper floor. At the other end of the social pyramid, the daimyos, or nobility, maintained large mansions and castles on their lands. The samurai had many types of equipment for war, such as a war mask called menpo. They also had armored sleeves called kote. Other names for armor that the samurai used were kabuto, which was the samurai’s helmet.

Samurai sword