Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Brief Historical Overview of Japan


A. Pre-modern

Heian (794-1185):
-capital moved here from Nara in 794, and remained capital until Taira clan (and emperors) were defeated by Minamoto clan in Genpei War, establishing Kamakura bakufu or Shogunate;
-city modeled after Tang dynasty capital Chang’an;
-Buddhism (mainly Lotus-sutra-based populist Tendai and China-Kūkai-derived esoteric-aristocratic Shingon), Taoism, Chinese influences spread;
-imperial court center of culture, while Fujiwara clan ruled from behind scenes, securing power through intermarrying with royalty;
-rise of samurai class, first as bodyguards (this class eventually defeats the aristocracy and takes power)

-court stops sending official delegates to Tang dynasty China in 9th centurydevelopment of kana and flowering of indigenous Japanese culture of the literate aristocracy/Buddhist clergy;
-waka (later known as tanka; 5-7-5 kami no ku + 7-7 shimo no ku; e.g. Kokinwakashū first of series of imperial anthologies, also scattered throughout monogatari) appears; kanshi continues;
-monogatari reaches peak; monogatari: tale or prose narrative, “relating of things” or “person telling”: “mono o kataru”; Taketori monogatari said to be the first; usually have “monogatari” in title; about someone other than author; many subgenres, e.g. denki, rekishi, gunki, jitsuroku, etc; examples: Ise monogatari, Genji monogatari, Konjaku monogatari, and later, Eiga monogatari, Taiheiki; at least 198 monogatari written by late 13th century, 40 of which still exist.

Kamakura (1185-1333)
-Victorious Minamoto clan, led by Minamoto no Yoritomo, makes Kamakura the seat of shogunate and regent;
-bushi class replaces aristocracy as rulers of Japan;
-in dark days, Buddhism thrives and spreads its influence;
-resistance to Shogunate dictatorship in provinces, situation unstable, although Shogunate mains maintains equilibrium with Kyoto court (contrast with Ashikaga Shogunate);
-great popularization of Buddhism (newer Jōdo-shū and Zen dominate, while older aristocracy-supported esoteric Shingon and the Tendai at Hiezan continue;
-Key Tendai followers break off: Nichiren forms Nichiren, Dōgen forms Sōtō Zen, Eisai forms Rinzai Zen, Ippen forms Ji (i.e. Amida Buddha dance), Shinran forms Jōdo shinshū, Hōnen forms Jōdōshū);
-taking advantage of this instability, the Mongols invade Japan in 1274 and 1281, but were repulsed by two well-timed typhoons;
-Finally, loyalist Nitta Yoshisada conquers and destroys Kamakura in 1333, reestablishing imperial rule under Emperor Go-Daigo.

-era of political uncertainty reflected in literature of period (e.g. heavily Buddhist-influenced Hōjōki by Kamo no Chōmei in 1212; Heike monogatari about rise and fall of Taira; Shin kokinwakashū in 1201-5);
-nostalgia for past a major theme; mappō end days
-early renga, haikai; busshi (Buddhist sculptor);
-Unkei’s sculptures in Nara, etc.
Muromachi (1336-1573)
-period of the Ashikaga (i.e. Muromachi) Shogunate, who lived on Muromachi street in Kyoto;
-period has two major eras: Nanboku-chō (1336-1392) and Sengoku (1467-1573)
-Ōnin War (1467–1477) marked the start of the Sengoku period; wiped out Kyoto, as well as the bakufu’s national authority, leaving a power vacuum that led to a century of war and anarchy;
-contact with Ming Dynasty China renewed;
-Ashikaga shogunate takes over parts of imperial government;
-Shintō, for centuries quiet and absorbed into more powerful Buddhism (esp. Shingon; ryōbū or dual Shintō) reemerges as autonomous force, spurred by Mongol invasion and new sense of national consciousness, and encouraged by Kitabatake Chikafusa and other Shintō revivalist-loyalists;
-Europeans arrive: first the Portugese in southern Kyūshū in 1543 (Xavier and Spanish Jesuits in 1549), initiating period of Nanban trade (lasts till 1614), followed by the Spanish in 1587, then the Dutch in 1609;
-attention to outside intensified with increase in foreign trade;
-Muromachi period ends when last Ashikaga shogunate (Yoshiaki) forced out of Kyoto by Oda Nobunaga;

-much of what we consider as “Japanese aesthetics” developed/came to prominence in this period: wabi (transient and stark beauty; spiritual wealth in material poverty), sabi (beauty of aging), yūgen (profound grace and subtlety), cha no yu, Sen no Rikyū, ikebana, Noh, bonsai, zōen landscape gardening, etc.;
-why this emphasis on transience?national culture was centered around the bakufu-Shogunate headquarters in Kyoto, thus military/somber/Spartan/austere ethics-aesthetics;
-Also, Zen, which plays a major role in spreading religion and art;
-Also, imperial court and bakufu-Shogunate together in Kyoto lead to comingling of regional daimyō, samurai, Zen priests, imperial family members, courtiers; militarization of aristocracy;
-Also Zeami (1364-1443), father of Noh. As we will see, Buddhist concerns/themes/messages feature prominently in Noh.

Azuchi-Momoyama (1568-1603):
-following Sengoku warring states period, political unification; era name derived from Nobunaga’s castle in Azuchi (Shiga-ken);
-during this transitional period, Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi impose order on the chaos following Ashikaga Shogunate collapse in 1573;
-Hideyoshi wages two failed Korean campaigns (1593, 1597);
-beginning of rise of merchant class;
-ornate architectural styles in marked contrast to somber Muromachi styles;
-new aesthetic sense evident in nanban style of painting (exotic paintings of European priests, traders, southern barbarians, etc.);
-Muromachi-era tea ceremony, ceramics, etc. continue to thrive;
-interest in outside world increases;
-Nobunaga supports Christianity to help suppress Buddhism, but Hideyoshi is suspicious, prohibiting Christianity in 1587, clamping down in 1597;
-end of Nanban trading, beginning of sakoku/kaikin policies.

B. Early Modern

Edo (Tokugawa) (1603-1868):
-period of peace and semi-sakoku, ruled by Tokugawa shoguns, lasting until Fall of Edo 江戸開城 and restoration of emperor in 1868;
-by mid-18th century, Edo largest city in world with population of 1 million;
-strict mibunsei: kuge + 4 classes (shi-nō-kō-shō: 5% 80% 工 商 )  + hinin/eta;
-however, unprecedented intermingling of classes (Sorai considered this the corruption/commercialization of the samurai class);
-sankin kōtai (alternate residence) system ensures that samurai daimyō (warlords in han) remain loyal to shōgun;
-no “individual” rights ( smallest legal unit; contrast with post-Meiji emphasis/obsession with self/individual);
-increasing restrictions/persecutions against Christians sparks failed Shimabara Rebellion of 1637-1638, which marks end of Christians practicing openly;
-despite sakoku policy, knowledge of West keeps trickling in through Rangaku Dutch studies in Dejima in Nagasaki bay;
-flourishing of humanistic, rational, historical, secular perspective of Neo-confucianism日本朱子学 (no longer solely the domain of Buddhist clerics; now dominant legal philosophy)yet, from within this movement occurs a rise of Shintō and kokugaku (national learning) studies, and a renewed interest in Kojiki, Nihon shoki, and Man’yōshū and anti-continental sentiment.

-rise of chōnin status, plebeian culture;
-80% literacy in Edo;
-various new genres of literature emerge: Matsuo Bashō, Ihara Saikaku, Takizawa Bakin, yomihon, gesaku comic literature, haikai no renga, yūkaku red-light districts such as Yoshiwara, kyōka, ukiyo, shunga, iki, kabuki, bunraku, Chikamatsu plays, etc.

C. Modern

Meiji (1868-1912):
-begins with overthrow of Tokugawa Shogunate, restoration of emperor Meiji, and relocation of capital to Edo-Tokyo;
-after decades of threats and pressures from West to open up, they open up;
-end of ban on Christianity, revocation of mibunsei laws;
-regional daimyō relinquish lands to show support for emperor, as Han system is replaced by prefectures (a blow to samurai, increase in # of rōnin; as we will see, many writers from this disenfranchised, formerly elite class);
-officials from former key han given top positions in new central government;
-efforts to establish 1,000 year old Shintō imperial throne lead to creation of new “invented tradition” of State Shintō (separated from Buddhism with which it had been linked);
-national mythology of divine throne created, kokutai ideas of Mito-han embraced;
-neo-Confucianism still basis for ethics; Buddhism still persists, despite series of anti-Buddhist laws and movements (e.g. 1868 haibutsu kishaku, 1868 shinbutsu bunri law, etc.);
-private ownership legalized with 1873 land tax reform: land owning elites secure monopoly of government through new tax laws.

-however, reacting to thisItagaki Taisuke’s The Freedom and People’s Rights Movement 自由民権運動 (1873-1880s) sought democratic reform, representative government, criticized Meiji oligarchy, and pushed for Meiji Constitution; Itagaki followed with his Aikokusha party and French-inspired Jiyūtō; also: Fukuzawa Yukichi’s liberal treatises; Protestant Christian connection; other anti-oligarchy parties follow, leading to government crackdown;
-Universal Conscription Law of 1873 another blow to samurai class already hurt by 1871 Abolition of Han System act; many refuse to serve in military with lowly peasants; series of former samurai-led rebellions culminating in Saigō Takamori’s Satsuma Rebellion in 1877); more disgruntled samurai as shi-nō-kō-shō continues to be challenged/inverted;
-1889 Meiji Constitution a blow for progressive parties, as it ensured that the small clique of elite Satsuma and Chōshū statesman (later called the genrō) would rule the nation, and enfranchised only men who pay substantial amount in property taxes;
-two major war victories, over Qing Dynasty China in 1894-1895 for control of Korea, and over Russia in 1904-1905 for control of Manchuria and Korea;
-development of modern conscript army, modern monarchy, modern industry, modern financial system, centralized modern state, modern police force/justice system.

-ethos of day can be summed up in phrase/slogan: bunmei kaika (Civilization and Enlightenment);
-yatoi-gaijin such as Ernest Fenollosa, Lafcadio Hearn, Basil Hall Chamberlain, and others teach at universities;
-translation begins of nearly everything Western (philosophy, literature, etc.);
-genbun-itchi slowly displaces old literary style;
-shōsetsu/bungaku now a respectable enterprise;
-Tsubouchi Shōyō translates Shakespeare, advocates psychological realism in his Shōsetsu no shinzui (1885);
-Futabatei Shimei writes “first modern novel” Ukigumo (1887; four characters; critical of materialistic society; depicts anomie/social breakdown);
-Ōgai and Sōseki grapple with the political and literary problems of the age; Ōgai-introduced Romanticism and English-style Realism reign supreme;
-risshin shusse capitalist society vs. anti-materialistic neo-Confucian ethic (tension is a main theme in Botchan);
-debut of naturalist shōsetsu (I-novel) at end of Meiji;
-Major writers from this period include: Tsubouchi Shōyō, Mori Ōgai, Futabatei Shimei, Higuchi Ichiyō, Izumi Kyōka, Shimazaki Tōson, Kunikida Doppo, Natsume Sōseki, and somewhat reactionary, neo-classicists Ozaki Kōyō, Yamada Bimyō, and Kōda Rohan.

Taishō (1912-1926):
-a period of peace and relative prosperity (especially prosperous after WWI);
-Japan becomes one of Big 5 powers at Treaty of Versailles in 1919, and given permanent seat in League of Nations: now “caught up” with West;
-taking advantage of Germany’s defeat and collapse of tsarist Russia, Japan consolidates its position in Asia, expands empire;
-slight power shift from old genrō elite clique to democratic parties and the Diet”Taishō democracy.”

-rise of popular culture, the bourgeoisie;
-commercialization of literature/culture and revolution in mass publishing (enpon in 1926);
-bunkashugi (from bunmei to bunka; birth of bourgeois subjectivism);
-at the same time, increase in leftist-/anarchist-inspired ideas, Marxism, labor unions, Japanese Communist Party in 1922, rise of proletarian writers in 1920s as economic situation worsens;
-increased calls for universal suffrage leads to passing of 1925 General Election Law (made ineffective however w/ 1928 Peace Preservation Law);
-then bam!1923 Tokyo Earthquake destroys Tokyo (downhill from here, according to many): 100,000 dead; much of city (especially old shitamachi) destroyed; city center moves westward).

-experimental modernist fiction;
-prominent writers of this period include: Tayama Katai, Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, Kajii Motojirō, Nagai Kafū, Satō Haruo, Shiga Naoya and other Shirakaba writers, etc.

Shōwa (1926-1989):
-left suppressed (Communist Party forced underground in 1926, gone by 1933);
-progressive victory with General Election Law (1925; all 25+ males can vote), followed immediately by reactionary Peace Preservation Law (1925; restricts political activities, makes kokutai supreme symbol of nation);
-1931: conquest of Manchuria begins with army acting independently; pioneer settlements begin;
-1933: Japan withdraws from League of Nations; increasing isolation, international criticism;
-1935: rapid rise of militarists; fascism/cult of emperor; Nihonshugi/kokusuishugi nationalism (post-Meiji phenomenon) reaches fever pitch;
-1936: ni-ni-roku jiken, right-wing coup of 1,500 against government; ordered by emperor to stop after several assassinations;
-1937: Marco Polo Bridge incident leads to full-scale invasion of China;
-1937-1945: bloodiest war in human history; 10 million Chinese dead; 3 million Japanese (1 million civilians); several million from around Southeast Asia; 

-Disillusioned writers flee to imagined past (Edo, Heian, etc.): nihon kaiki and tenkō novels from former leftists, Japanese Romantic School . . .;
-attempt to “overcome modernity” and seek other alternatives;
- defeat, occupation/postwar/economic boom/etc…;

Heisei (1989- ):
-otaku culture, muen shakai, anime, manga, pillow-humpers, etc.

1 comment:

J. Margaret said...

Wonderful historical timeline. You mention when all men 25 years and older could vote, when did women get the right to vote?