A History of Japan to 1334 by George Sansom

By George Sansom

This is a simple narrative of the improvement of jap civilization to 1334 by way of the writer of Japan: a brief Cultural History. whereas whole in itself, it's also the 1st quantity of a three-volume paintings for you to be the 1st large-scale, entire historical past of Japan.

Taken as an entire, the projected heritage represents the fruits of the existence paintings of possibly the main unique historian now writing on Japan. not like the well known Short Cultural History, it really is involved often with political and social phenomena and simply by the way touches on faith, literature, and the humanities. The therapy is essentially descriptive and real, however the writer deals a few pragmatic interpretations and indicates comparisons with the background of alternative peoples.

A heritage of Japan to 1334 describes the expansion from tribal origins of an prepared kingdom on a chinese language version, offers an image of the lifetime of the Royal court docket, and examines the clash among a refined city the Aristocracy and a warlike rural gentry. It lines the evolution of an effective process of feudal executive which disadvantaged the sovereign of all yet his ritual services and the status of his ancestry. The constitution of eastern feudal society is depicted in a few aspect and defined by way of its inner stresses and its habit in peace and struggle, particularly in the course of the interval of the Mongol assaults within the final a long time of the 13th century. the amount ends with the cave in of the feudal govt at Kamakura below the assault of formidable rivals.

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In the earliest written accounts we have descriptions of public cere­ monies on something approaching a national scale, such as the Spring Prayer for good crops, the Autumn Harvest Thanksgiving, and the Great Purification exercises of summer and winter. These involved an elabo­ rate ritual performed in the name of the sovereign by celebrants who had attained purity by fasting and other forms of abstinence. They recited a prayer in language prescribed for each occasion. Some, if not all, of these festivals must have arisen from popular worship, and those which had to do with sowing and harvest no doubt originated in simple rites performed by farmers and their families; but the liturgies as we know them from official records of a later period are highly elaborate versions of primitive themes.

And thus the heroism of Japan grows natu­ rally out of a religion which if considered unsympathetically in the light of pure reason is as foolish as a fairy tale. Although we have little direct and positive evidence of the nature of the Yamato state as it developed in the first few centuries after its formation, it can be reconstructed without much difficulty from material furnished by the chronicles and from vestiges of early institutions that survived the process of reform which took place as the reigning dynasty strove to consolidate its power.

When they go on voyages across the sea, they always select a man who does not comb his hair, does not rid himself of fleas, lets his clothing get dirty, does not eat meat, and does not approach women. This man behaves like a mourner and is called the fortune keeper. It will be seen that the mourners cleanse themselves of the pollution of death by bathing, while the “fortune keeper" takes upon himself the impurities of the community and at the same time attains a positive purity by abstention from polluting acts.

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