By George Sansom
Taken as an entire, the projected background represents the fruits of the existence paintings of might be the main exotic historian now writing on Japan. in contrast to the popular Short Cultural History, it truly is involved mostly with political and social phenomena and in simple terms by the way touches on faith, literature, and the humanities. The remedy is essentially descriptive and actual, however the writer deals a few pragmatic interpretations and indicates comparisons with the heritage of different peoples.
A background of Japan to 1334 describes the expansion from tribal origins of an prepared kingdom on a chinese language version, provides an image of the lifetime of the Royal court docket, and examines the clash among a sophisticated city the Aristocracy and a warlike rural gentry. It lines the evolution of a good method of feudal govt 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 element and defined by way of its inner stresses and its habit in peace and conflict, in particular in the course of the interval of the Mongol assaults within the final many years of the 13th century. the amount ends with the cave in of the feudal govt at Kamakura lower than the assault of formidable rivals.
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Additional info for A History of Japan to 1334
It is a difficult question; but one may say that, perhaps because of the climate of Japan, its wealth of trees and flowers and its genial landscapes, there seems to be a special element of enjoyment and gratitude in the early forms of worship as they are known to us and as they were practised in the fertile regions where the early migrants settled. Their observances were of course directed to safeguarding their food supply or warding off calamities, but the unseen powers seem to be addressed with trust rather than fear, and to judge from such prayers as have been preserved by tradition they were not regarded as jealous gods, or as stem, cruel judges in flicting punishment and suffering upon men.
Much misunderstanding of Japanese thought in modem as well as ancient times has been caused by the word kami, which is usually rendered as “god”‘or “spirit” in Western languages. This word carries the general sense of “upper” or “superior,” and a thing or person is called kami if it is felt to possess some superior quality or power. The same idea is expressed in Polynesian countries by the term mana, which stands for a special power or influence possessed by certain persons, things, or places, something above their everyday quality.
These are not thought of in terms of guilt, but as impurities that must be removed before a man or woman can resume a full part in the life of the community. Certain acts such as murder, wounding, incest, bestiality, are looked upon as offences which create impurity and pollute the person who performs them. ® Notice that drawing blood is polluting. ” There is a close analogy to ancient Greek ideas of purity, though water was not always thought sufficient to wash off blood guilt in Athens. Sometimes the blood of a sacrificial animal was used.
A History of Japan to 1334 by George Sansom