By George Sansom
Taken as an entire, the projected background represents the fruits of the lifestyles paintings of maybe the main distinct historian now writing on Japan. in contrast to the well known Short Cultural History, it really is involved generally with political and social phenomena and purely by the way touches on faith, literature, and the humanities. The therapy is essentially descriptive and real, however the writer bargains a few pragmatic interpretations and indicates comparisons with the background of different peoples.
A historical past 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 courtroom, and examines the clash among a cultured city the Aristocracy and a warlike rural gentry. It lines the evolution of an effective approach of feudal govt which disadvantaged the sovereign of all yet his ritual services and the status of his ancestry. The constitution of jap feudal society is depicted in a few element and defined by way of its inner stresses and its habit in peace and battle, specially through 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 executive at Kamakura lower than the assault of bold rivals.
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Extra info for A History of Japan to 1334
It seems to pre sent the first elements of national character, for unlike such great reli gions as Buddhism or Christianity it was not something which added to or contributed to national life, but was rather an expression of the most intimate and vital sentiments of the Japanese people. In that sense it somewhat resembles the pagan cults of Greece and Rome, in their archaic strata. It is not a religion whose principles demonstrably arise from historical events. It it not the product of a revolution in ideas.
Yet there is some resemblance between the attitude of the Japanese towards their native legends and that of Western European peoples towards theirs. Greek and Roman mythology was carried to the West by Christianity, as a by-product of knowledge of classical languages, and THE PEOPLE 31 among educated people it displaced or thrust into the background the simpler and less artificial beliefs of an earlier age. In Japan the powerful influence of Confucian thought and Buddhist teaching similarly tended to diminish the currency of the myth of the native gods, or at least to force it to some compromise with the new kinds of teaching brought over from the mainland.
The chronicles were compiled (ca. 700) at a time when the influence of foreign ideas (both Confucian and Buddhist) was growing rapidly in Japan. Yet they show that traditional beliefs were still powerful and that the indigenous cult retained much of its vitality. Since those days not only have many of the legends remained part of the nation’s folk lore, but also the principles of monarchy and the theory of government which the two works were designed to uphold have for centuries en tered into political thought despite great events that in logic would seem to shatter them.