Feudal Japan

The answer to four key questions about the Japanese feudal age.

What is Feudalism?

Feudalism is a social structure based on land and power, in which you served your overseer known as a lord, for your entire life.

A form of government.

What led to the rise of Feudalism in Japan?

Warfare and destruction led to the need of constant protection. The rise of the classes, including the highest, the Samurai Class, allowed for people to serve others in exchange for protection by a samurai.

Weak central government that could not control the fighting among the people. Lawlessness led small landowners to become vassals of  the daimyo for protection.

What are three art forms for ancient Japan and how did they impact/influence society at that time period?

Poetry was an art, most often written about the beauty found in nature, the sadness of rejected love, or most often, images of Zen. The most common type of poem was a haiku, which helped to spread the thoughts and images of Zen.

Brush painting was also a popular art in Feudal Japan. Images found were often of direct landscapes, daily life, and historical events in ancient Japan. This not only was an art, but a way of record keeping. Paintings were usually very detailed, and could capture images of daily life and innovative and historical moments for future generations, like an ancient camera.

Gardening was a complex and careful art in Feudal Japan. Zen inspired gardens in particular, were used to help people think quietly and experience the beauty of nature. They often had stone pathways, flowers, and trees.

Haiku- 5, 7, 5

Bonsai/ Zen gardens- Highlights natural beauty, helped people think quietly

Noh- Retelling of  legends and folktales, actors were mostly men, they were performed for upper class as well as commoners, used music

Calligraphy- a way to express beauty, shapes/sizes of letters mean different words and phrases

What was the social structure of Feudal Japan? Be sure to explain why each class is placed where they were in the Japanese social structure.

The Samurai class was at the top of the Four-Tiered class system. They were given the highest respect, for they protected  the people of a certain lord.

The farmers and peasants were directly below the Samurai class on the tier. They were highly valued, for farmers produced the food for all the other classes.

Artisans were the next down on the Feudal Japan social hierarchy. Although they made the necessary goods, they were below farmers, because food was of higher value than clothes and cooking utensils in this time.

Lastly, at the bottom, were the merchants. They were here, for they profited of the labor of the harder working classes of artisans and farmers.

Emperor- symbolic leader of Japan but had no real power

Shogun & Daimyo- powerful land owners that controlled power in Japan

Samurai Warriors- Provided protection for Shogun and Daimyo in return for land

Peasants and artisans- Produced items that contributed to society

Merchants- Lowest and did not produce anything that contributed to society

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