Analytical Paper on Centralized Feudalism
In the sixteenth century, Tokugawa Japan had a feudal system of domains that brought their political system together and set them apart from other countries. This system was based upon a supreme ruler, the Shogun, who was over several Daimyo. The Daimyo served as lords of land holders who reported to the Shogun. This system was a catalyst in the rapid progress and development of this country. The country’s natural landscape and their religious/political standing made them a calm and stable people. Peace and order as well as the centralized feudal system were strong elements in this culture’s success. In regards to aesthetics, the Japanese landscape was 70% mountains and agriculture was abundant during this time. Many people farmed and lived in villages. The building of castle structures took off during this time. Most castles would have white walls and be heavily decorated. These castles would be surrounded by moats and large stone walls. These structures could be compared to sixteenth century European fortifications. The samurai during this time were decorated with badges and belts to indicate their honorable standing. In Tokugawa Japan, Buddhism and Shintoism were the two main religions. Christianity was highly prohibited in this society. The author states “overseas Japanese were prohibited in 1636 from returning to Japan for fear that they might reintroduce the virus of Christianity” to emphasize the strict ban on Christianity during this time. They viewed European Catholics as lacking in authority. The religion existed in parts of Japan until it was completely stamped out, through persecution in 1638. This ban of Christianity slowed oversea trade and ships became limited to which countries they could visit without risking confrontation with missionaries/zealous Christians. In an attempt to keep Christianity out of Japan, the Japanese isolated themselves and become politically behind.
By not knowing what other countries were doing, they put themselves at risk for attack. The biggest political event recorded from this time was the incident of the forty-seven Ronin. The term Ronin means samurai who have lost their master to death or otherwise. These forty-seven soldiers planned to avenge their masters death, and disguised as simple town peasants/merchants. They did this so that their target would become comfortable and let their guard down. The samurai knew they would end up having to commit Seppuku (self-disembowelment) but they did not fear this because they knew they had to honor their master, dead or alive. Though the Japanese used the feudal system, they had a very organized and efficient government. The peace and stability that was present in their culture allowed them to find themselves as a country and become their own unique identity. The author mentions that “Peace and stability also permitted the Japanese to work over and perfect their own rich cultural heritage” to display that any culture, in order to be successful must have a few trial years to master their own unique system of living.
Tokogawa Japan was an interesting time in history that sets an example for many aspects of a culture, some good and some bad. Their mountainous landscape and isolationism served to promote peace and cultural identity. All parts of this society made for a very unique and memorable reign.