The Japanese Experience: A Short History of Japan / Edition 1

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The Japanese Experience is an authoritative history of Japan from the sixth century to the present day. Only a writer of W.G. Beasley's stature could render Japan's complicated past so concisely and elegantly. This is the history of a society and a culture with a distinct sense of itself, one of the few nations never conquered by a foreign power in historic times (until the twentieth century) and the home of the longest-reigning imperial dynasty that still survives. The Japanese have always occupied part or all of the same territory, its borders defined by the sea. They have spoken and written a common language, (once it had taken firm shape in about the tenth century) and their population has been largely homogeneous, little touched by immigration except in very early periods. Yet Japanese society and culture have changed more through time than these statements seem to imply. Developments within Japan have been greatly influenced by ideas and institutions, art and literature, imported from elsewhere. In this work Beasley, a leading authority on Japan and the author of a number of acclaimed works on Japanese history, examines the changing society and culture of Japan and considers what, apart from the land and the people, is specifically Japanese about the history of Japan.
The arrival of Buddhism in the sixth century brought a substantially Chinese-style society to Japan, not only in religion but in political institutions, writing system, and the lifestyle of the ruling class. By the eleventh century the Chinese element was waning and the country was entering a long and essentially "Japanese" feudal period--with two rulers, an emperor and a Shogun--which was to last until the nineteenth century. Under the Togukawa shogunate (1600-1868), Chinese culture enjoyed something of a renaissance, though popular culture owed more to Japanese urban taste and urban wealth.
In 1868 the Meiji Restoration brought to power rulers dedicated to the pursuit of national wealth and strength, and Japan became a world power. Although a bid for empire ended in disaster, the years after 1945 saw an economic miracle that brought spectacular wealth to Japan and the Japanese people, as well as the westernization of much of Japanese life.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520225602
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2000
  • Series: History of Civilization Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 317
  • Sales rank: 961,768
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.13 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

W.G. Beasley is Professor Emeritus of the History of the Far East at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His books include The Modern History of Japan (1963), The Meiji Restoration (1972), and Japan Encounters the Barbarian: Japanese Travelers in America and Europe (1995).

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Table of Contents

List of maps
List of illustrations
Japanese words, names and dates
Introduction: Patterns and Periods
1 Origins 1
Myths 2
Archaeology 7
The Yamato state 11
Primitive religion 16
2 The Making of a Monarchy 19
Chinese-style government 20
Capital cities 30
The Fujiwara regents 34
3 Buddhism and Chinese Culture 41
Buddhism and Shinto 42
Tribute missions and Chinese learning 48
Literature, art and music 54
4 The Ebbing of the Chinese Tide 61
Public land, private land 62
The rise of a warrior class after 800 66
Heian culture 69
5 Japanese Feudalism 78
The Kamakura Bakufu (1185-1333) 80
Feudalism in the Muromachi period (1336-1460) 89
6 Medieval Culture 1200-1450 98
Buddhism 100
Prose literature and drama 104
Chinese influence on the arts 110
7 The Unifiers 116
Warfare and warlords (1460-1560) 117
Nobunaga and Hideyoshi (1560-1598) 122
The Tokugawa settlement (1600-1650) 128
8 Relations with Asia and Europe 1500-1700 134
The China trade 135
Korea and Ryukyu 141
Christianity and seclusion 147
9 Edo Society 152
The ruling class 153
The village and the town 161
10 Edo Culture 171
Chinese thought, Japanese thought 172
Literature and the arts 178
11 The Coming of the West 1840-1873 188
Unequal treaties 189
Nationalism and politics 196
Study of the West 203
12 The Modern State 210
Political institutions 211
Social change 219
Tradition and modernity 225
13 Fifty Years of Foreign Wars 1894-1945 230
Industry and empire 231
The struggle for Greater East Asia 241
14 Postwar Japan 251
Glossary 269
Bibliography 275
Index 287
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2005

    Syntax degree?

    It was a good book with lots of terms and a good all-aroud coverage of Japanese historical events, but the language in the first ten pages makes me wonder if he is a credible author. There are so many syntax errors that it becomes a chore to read. Bad editting. Since it is my first book on Japan, I can only say I have enjoyed reading and learning about the Japanese from this book. I appreciate the author's dilligence in unearthing such an astounding amount of material and presenting it in an interesting manner.

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