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History of Japanese Religion, with Special Reference to the Social and Moral Life of the Nation
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The People and the phases of their civilization. The Shinto religion and the communal system, early stages and survival.
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Introduction of Buddhism and its establishment about Spread of Buddhism and its arrival in Japan ; The prince-regent Shotoku, his ideals and work ; Buddhist inspiration and its manifestations ; Reforms and progress ; The period of Nara and the glories of the Tempyo era ; The culminating phases of the culture of Nara -- Book III. The Period of Heian, an age of peace and ease about The Age of feudal strife and religious struggle about General features of the Kamakura period ; Amita-Buddhism or Jodo pietism ; Nichiren and his prophetic religion ; Zen Buddhism ; Social disintegration after the fourteenth century ; Religious strife ; Kirishitan missions, Japan's first contact with Europe and Christianity ; End of Confusion and dawn of peace -- Book V.
The Tokugawa regime of peace and order about The establishment of a firm rule ; Confucianism and its schools ; The blooming of culture and the rise of the bourgeoisie ; Peace, refinement, and degeneration ; Po;ular teachers in religion and ethics ; Revival of Shinto ; The last stage of the Tokugawa regime -- Book VI. The Era of Meiji and the present, an age of progress and problems The new era, its start and characteristics ; Religious policy and problems ; A decade of Europeanization ; Conservative reaction and religious problems ; Spiritual unrest and the rise of individualism ; Social unrest, sharper antagonism between radicals and conservatives ; The world war and after.
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Home About Help Search. The war ended when one of the most famous samurai heroes in Japanese history, Minamoto Yoshitsune, led his clan to victory against the Taira near the village of Dan-no-ura.
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The triumphant leader Minamoto Yoritomo—half-brother of Yoshitsune, whom he drove into exile—established the center of government at Kamakura. The establishment of the Kamakura Shogunate, a hereditary military dictatorship, shifted all real political power in Japan to the samurai.
Zen Buddhism , introduced into Japan from China around this time, held a great appeal for many samurai. Also during the Kamakura period, the sword came to have a great significance in samurai culture. The strain of defeating two Mongol invasions at the end of the 13th century weakened the Kamakura Shogunate, which fell to a rebellion led by Ashikaga Takauji. The Ashikaga Shogunate, centered in Kyoto, began around For the next two centuries, Japan was in a near-constant state of conflict between its feuding territorial clans.
After the particularly divisive Onin War of , the Ashikaga shoguns ceased to be effective, and feudal Japan lacked a strong central authority; local lords and their samurai stepped in to a greater extent to maintain law and order. Despite the political unrest, this period—known as the Muromachi after the district of that name in Kyoto—saw considerable economic expansion in Japan. It was also a golden age for Japanese art, as the samurai culture came under the growing influence of Zen Buddhism.
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In addition to such now-famous Japanese art forms as the tea ceremony, rock gardens and flower arranging, theater and painting also flourished during the Muromachi period. This period ushered in a year-long stretch of peace and prosperity in Japan, and for the first time the samurai took on the responsibility of governing through civil means rather than through military force.
This relatively conservative faith, with its emphasis on loyalty and duty, eclipsed Buddhism during the Tokugawa period as the dominant religion of the samurai. It was during this period that the principles of bushido emerged as a general code of conduct for Japanese people in general.
Though bushido varied under the influences of Buddhist and Confucian thought, its warrior spirit remained constant, including an emphasis on military skills and fearlessness in the face of an enemy. In a peaceful Japan, many samurai were forced to become bureaucrats or take up some type of trade, even as they preserved their conception of themselves as fighting men. In , the right to carry swords was restricted only to samurai, which created an even greater separation between them and the farmer-peasant class. The material well-being of many samurai actually declined during the Tokugawa Shogunate, however.
Samurai had traditionally made their living on a fixed stipend from landowners; as these stipends declined, many lower-level samurai were frustrated by their inability to improve their situation. In the midth century, the stability of the Tokugawa regime was undermined by a combination of factors, including peasant unrest due to famine and poverty.
The incursion of Western powers into Japan—and especially the arrival in of Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the U. Navy, on a mission to get Japan to open its doors to international trade—proved to be the final straw. The controversial decision to open the country to Western commerce and investment helped encourage resistance to the shogunate among conservative forces in Japan, including many samurai, who began calling for a restoration of the power of the emperor. Feudalism was officially abolished in ; five years later, the wearing of swords was forbidden to anyone except members of the national armed forces, and all samurai stipends were converted into government bonds, often at significant financial loss.
The new Japanese national army quashed several samurai rebellions during the s, while some disgruntled samurai joined secret, ultra-nationalist societies, among them the notorious Black Dragon Society, whose object was to incite trouble in China so that the Japanese army would have an excuse to invade and preserve order.