Medieval Japan By: Jacob Camino

how did customs structure society today?

Custom 1: Feudalism

What you see above is the Feudalism Pyramid, which shows the Feudal system's order in authority and power.

Feudalism is the social system that was used by Europe and Japan during the Medieval times. For Japan, it was during the era of Shogun/Samurai. Before they had feudalism, they were isolated. They had an agricultural society and weren't as advanced. Years passed, and Japan adapted to Asian cultures. This was the time of Cultural Diffusion. Like China, Japan had an Aristocracy period, which happened after the Cultural Diffusion. This meant that wealthy people ruled at the time. This was also the Golden age of Japan, which lasted for 800 years (300-1100). Japan had an order of roles in the government, and that was the social ranking. There was a problem with this order however. It resulted in complaints about how unfair the ranking is. Worst case, it led to rebellions. It was so bad, the Japanese needed a new order. This is where Feudalism comes in. It lasted for 700 years (1100-1800) in the Era of Samurai, not bad for a country that was once isolated. The Feudal system goes by power and authority. It goes from Shoguns (military government leaders) to Daimyos (lords of Japanese feudalism) to Samurais (Japanese warriors) to farmers. It's not surprising that the system ruled for a long time. The people above the order gave land and protection while the people below gave food and money. So therefore it was a fair exchange.

Feudalism was an example of order. It inspired new orders to be made, like the United States governments. The Feudal system had a leader of the land, which is the emperor/king. In the US, the federal government is the highest of all governing bodies. Daimyos/lords were much like the state government because they were the second most highest governing body, while the daimyos/lords were the second most highest role in the Feudal system. Samurai/knights are not really high on power, but they are important because they would be in charge of important orders from their leaders. Same with the County government, it's in charge only for the county but laws from the higher governments have to be carried out through this government. The farmers/peasants are the ones that work hard to provide for themselves. The City government isn't really important to the country that much, but they would do any means necessary for their own town. If there was no Feudalism, society would have no order and would instead just be chaos and anarchy.

Custom #2: Samurai

This is the Amida Buddha statue, which resembles Amida and was worshipped.

The warrior class in Medieval Japan were the Samurai. They had leaders of the military government, Shoguns, that were protected by the samurais with their lives. Samurai were very serious about where they put their mind on. It can be their religion, in battle, their code of honor, and even appreciating literature. The religion they practiced were two types of Buddhism: Amida and Zen Buddhism. They adapted and made their own version of Buddhism from China. However, the original Buddhism originated in India. Amida Buddhism is about how people can reach paradise when relying on the mercy of Amida Buddha. People practicing this religion used to be saying Amida Buddha's name 70,000 times, but then they were taught to sincerely say the name once. Zen Buddhism is about how you can relieve stress and achieving enlightment from meditation. They also practiced their code of honor, which was bushido. Bushido told samurai to be honest, fair, and fearless in the face of death. They were so honest and loyal to their lords, they would avenge and risk their lives for them. The samurai learned and trained to always be alert because they can be attacked when least expected. Samurais were expected to be students of culture, which is why they would study the beauty of writing.

The Samurai were examples of a strong warrior class. It inspired other warrior classes to be loyal to their commander and be serious for anything you do. If we didn't have samurai, sure we would have had warriors, but they would have little or no respect.

Custom #3: Aristocracy Government

Aristocracy can afford signing business/financial agreements (contracts) because they have the wealth for it.

The Japanese government became mostly aristocratic in the Heian Period. This lasted for 800 years (300-1100) and 300 of those years were the ruling of the Fujiwara family. They weren't really in charge of the government, but they had other ways of ruling it. One way they "ruled" the government was when they married many of the daughters of the royal family. They made sure that their sons were chosen to become emperor. Another way was when the Fujiwara acted as the advisers of the emperor. They even influenced the emperors to retire the throne so the sons could become emperors. Now for the social rankings. The requirement was to be born with a family's rank. There was no test to be in the court, and so there was no skill needed. You could tell what rank a noble would be by how many folds their fan has and the amount of servants they had. The higher the count, the higher the rank is. The nobles appointed by the emperor were the top 3 ranks. The nobles who received money from the rice farms in the whole land and the taxes paid by farmers were the fourth and fifth ranks. The sixth through ninth ranks are nobles who are experts in law, medicine, and other fields. Each rank had their own privileges and different properties, which include houses.

Now and back then, aristocrats were able to pay for anything. They were able to pay off any business and afford education compared to middle/low class citizens who are limited in what they could do. If we didn't have any sort of aristocracy, we wouldn't have all the needs and would have to worry about much more financial problems.

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