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9780135766125

Heritage of Japanese Civilization
Heritage of Japanese Civilization
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  • ISBN-13: 9780135766125
  • ISBN: 0135766125
  • Publication Date: 2002
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR

AUTHOR

Craig, Albert M.

SUMMARY

The long and rich history of Japan was marked by three major transitions, each initiated by contact with a more advanced technology and different culture. The first transition was from a hunting and gathering society that had been in place for thousands of years to an agricultural and metal-working society of villagers and local aristocrats. The transition began in about 300 BCE, when northeast Asian peoples, crossing from the Korean peninsula to Japan, introduced the new technologies and their accompanying culture. In the second transition the Japanese actively reached out for the technologies, writing system, and culture of China, and changed from a pre-literate to a historical East Asian society. Developments within this society between the seventh and nineteenth centuries constitute the longest span of recorded Japanese history. In the mid-nineteenth century, massive contacts with the West led to the rapid development of modern industries and the acceptance of new ideas and values. Japan transformed itself and became the first non-Western modern nation. Within the long time span in which Japan developed its unique and brilliant variant of continental East Asian civilization, three periods must be further distinguished. First was the classical era of the Nara and Heian courts that extended from the seventh to the twelfth century. The second, the medieval period of rule by military houses, began in the thirteenth and continued into the sixteenth century. The third was the Tokugawa era, which extended from the early seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century. During this last peaceful era, military houses still ruled but were incorporated within a framework of centralized government. Modern Japan, though brief in comparison, may be divided into two phases: the first, from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of World War 11; the second, from 1945 to the present day. This volume consists in the main of the Japan chapters ofThe Heritage of World Civilization,extensively revised and expanded. It provides a chronological framework and a narrative of Japan's history. It highlights periods of rule but also addresses social, economic, and cultural developments which were continuous and cut across rule-periods. There are, to be sure, excellent thick histories of Japan, particularly of the modern era. Their principal drawback is that length precludes the assignment of other readings. For the instructor who wishes to approach Japanese history topically or assign collections of original documents, monographs, novels and films, it is hoped that the brevity of this text will prove an advantage. Brevity being the goal, the author asserts with seeming confidence many things that may be true only in the balance. Proper qualifications would take up many pages. Also, in telling the story of Japan's past the author has emphasized key historical variables, but in doing so has inevitably left out minor themes that merit attention. Reading assignments from the Suggested Readings at the end of each chapter may provide a counterpoint to the interpretations in the text. Geography helps us to understand Japanese history. The climate varies widely, from the northern island of Hokkaido, where ice and snow may last into the spring, to the southern island of Kyushu, where palm trees dot the shores of Miyazaki and Kagoshima. But the central axis of the Japanese economy, culture, and polity has always been the temperate zone that stretches from western Honshu, through Osaka and Kyoto, to the Kanto plain and Tokyo in the east. Also of historical salience is the mountainous spine that runs through the length of the country and breaks up the country into regions. When central authority was weak, the regions often became politically autonomous. Maps identify most of the places mentioned in the text. Even in studying the West--our own civilization--we catch onlyCraig, Albert M. is the author of 'Heritage of Japanese Civilization', published 2002 under ISBN 9780135766125 and ISBN 0135766125.

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