Ancient Japan


 I. Origins and Early Developments
        A. Stone age tools dating to 30,000 B.C.E.
        B. 10,000 B.C.E. land bridge of last Ice Age disappears
            1. Jomon "Pottery Culture"
            2. Food gathering culture, similar to Polynesians
        C. Yayoi Culture: Agricultural Revolution, 300 B.C.E.-300 C.E.
            1. Chinese influences (bronze & iron metalurgy) entered
            2. Wet-rice agriculture leads to settled villages
            3. Transition to "civilization"
        D. Beginnings of the Yamato State (300-600)
            1. kofun "burial mounds" reveal increasing political unity
            2. horseback riding invaders from Korean peninsula possible
            3. beginnings of what would later be called "Shinto" or "the Way of the Gods"
                a. kami = spirits, gods, demons, the "numinous"
                b. trees, mountains, rivers, animals, etc. all possess kami
                c. ujigami = ancestral spirits of a lineage group (extended family)
                d. pollution & purification, but no sense of "sin" or "radical evil"
                e. yomi = hades-like afterworld for the dead (but no heaven, hell)
                f. education crucial to clergy, priests, shamans, but not for commoners
                g. oral traditions, esoteric rituals, divine communication, etc.
    II. The Introduction of Buddhism, Confucianism, etc.
        A. Korean state of Paekche introduced Chinese civilization to Japan
        B. Written language, history, poetry, laws, urban planning, imperial system, art & architecture
            1. "learning" as literate education begins in mid-sixth century
            2. kanji = "words of the Han (kan) dynasty"
            3. Buddhist missionaries served as first "teachers"
            4. education for the sake of attaining nirvana
        C. Early Imperial Age
            1. Emperors referred to as tenno after Chinese tianzi (ten-shi) & huangdi (no-tei)
            2. Nara (710-784) Period: the first "permanent" imperial capital
                a. Buddhism prevails, supported by imperial court
                b. Quasi-historical literature emerges
                    i. Records of Ancient Matters (Kojiki)--most Japanese
                    ii. Chronicles of Japan (Nihon shoki)--more international
                    iii. both open with mythic accounts: kami no yo "age of the gods"
                c. Poetry: Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves (Manyoshu)
                    i. waka "Japanese poem" versus kanshi "Chinese poem"
                    ii. tanka "short poem" 5-7-5-7-7 syllable count later gives rise to haiku
                d. Equal-field system of land distribution
            3. Heian (794-1185) Period: The Appearance of Kyoto
                a. New forms of Buddhism prevail (Tiantai & Shingon)
                    i. Saicho's emphasis on Buddhist education & service to the state
                    ii. Kukai's dedication to esoteric rituals, teachings, practices
                b. Fujiwara regents, related to the maternal line, dominate
                c. Conscript army fails
                d. Samurai (bushi) forces emerge in rural areas
                e. Aristocratic (kuge) culture
                    i. hiragana syllabic alphabet developed from kanji
                    ii. Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari) by Murasaki Shikibu
                    iii. Pillow Book (Makura no soshi) by Sei Shonagon