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Old 04-25-2005, 08:08 PM
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Default Feudal Japan, from the top. (work in progress)

This is going to be a major work in progress. Help with editing, fixing mistakes I make, adding things of your own, etc. would be very very appriciated.

EDIT: Due to the lack of player-written things to use, I am going to start using referenced copies of relavent materiel from other websites or from books. Once this compilation fills up, I hope to swich back to player-written things, gradually replacing the outside material.

The structure of this I hope will be something like this. I tried to put things in order of importance in their subgroups.

X meanings: one X is partially done, two X's is all info is present, three X's is all info is present and in final form.

-Shinto XX
-Views about life, death, and killing
-Buddhism, especially Zen X
-Class structure, including nobility (including ronin), peasants (with ninja in brief), criminals (brigands and corsairs, ronin touched upon), and eta. X
-Sex, sexual relationships, and body-consciousness
-Literature, writing, reading, and poetry

Setting (physical)
-Climate X
-Geography X

History (technological)
-Technological level, major technologies in use X
-New technologies of our time, technologies that will be developed within 100 years of this time X
-Weaponry and armor X

History (political)
-The Japanese Feudal System, and the role of the Emperor compared to the role of the Shogun X
-The recent and ancient history of Japan's government(s), factions, wars, coups, etc. Special focus on the events surrounding the forgeing of the (game-time) modern Shogunate--Toranaga's coup, what preceded, what followed.
-The fictional recent history setting up the game.

-Basic fighting style of soldiers and samurai
-Basic introduction to strategy and logistics, with relation to Feudal Japan
-Martial arts in brief X
--Aikido, Judo, Goju-ryu, Shodocan (spelling?) (I know there are many, many more forms, but these are the 4 major branches constituting the 4 major parts of all martial arts: emptiness-on-force, leverage-on-force, curvature-of-force, force-on-force.) X
-Assassination, and the Ninja

If you considder yourself relatively knowledgeable about these or other subjects, please do the following:
-Write an essay of at least 75 words on the topic. If you use somebody else's work, please cite them as appropriate, don't plagerise.
-Submit that essay, clearly titled, and if very long with a short description of what the essay is supposed to accomplish, here.

Please do not fill this thread with discussion or with spam. I will create a parallel thread as a discussion of this thread. Post anything that is related to this but is not a contribution on the parallel thread entitled "Feudal Japan, from the top (discussion thread).

-Mods: if this is out of line in any way, please let me know, and I'll fix the problem. If not, any and all assistance would be greatly appriciated. I would very much like it if this and the parallel thread were stickied. Please post any comments or orders on the discussion thread, so as to minimise off-topic posts on this one.

If this thread meets with your approval, please let me know either by PM or by posting on the discussion thread.

Thanks in advance,

EDIT 2: changed request to the mods.
EDIT 3: changed request to the mods.
EDIT 4: Added a paragraph. New paragraph starts with the word "EDIT:"

Last edited by Gryph; 01-27-2006 at 10:20 PM.
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Old 04-25-2005, 08:10 PM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, from the top. (work in progress)

This post will hold the extended essay itsself. All original authors will be credited for their work. All citation information from the original posts will be preserved here.

Special thanks to ShininShado, who has found a lot of information and keept "From the Top" alive while I neglected it.

Feudal Japan, From the Top
-A collaborative effort at a comprehensive description of the setting of this game.

Overview of the Religions of Japan
by ShininShado

One of the most influential and still practiced Japanese relegions is Shintoism. Shinto is the first of recognized relegions in the area. Shinto's focus was on nature, trees, streams, even mountains were revered as dieties often times. There was no true structured church of Shintoism, it was more an archaic belief that nature itself was the higher power. This lead to a respect of nature, and Shinto has hints and undertones of mysticism as well. The Emperor of Japan still holds to Shintoist believes. The Shinto belief was less focused on society and its well-being and more on the spirit of the individual and his relationship with nature and things natural. A healer would make a great Shintoist priest.

The second major relegio-philosphical movement to move into Japan was Buddhism. The concept of Buddhism was founded by Sidhartha Gautama, born in India, he roamed and looked for the meaning of life in vain. He started as a Hindu mendicant. He tried everything imaginable to come to the realizations of his life. Starving himself, going without sleep, you name it... but one day he sat under a tree, and realized he had all of the answers he needed inside himself. This of course was the famed "Bodi Tree." All he had to do was to uncover the realizations. This was done with meditation. The eight fold noble path was developed. I recommend reading the Dammapada, as it is full good wisdom and its writing is credited to Sidhartha Guatama. The term Bhudda is translated as "enlightened one". Many legends exist of his life and his travels and teachings, he died and the mark he left on the world will be felt forever. Loving Kindness is at the root of Buddhism, it explains that wisdom and compassion should be of equal value to one traveling the Buddhist path. Karma is a major part of Buddhism, as is reincarnation, and our place in the Karmic Wheel. The goal is to evolve as much as possible, becoming enlightened being the pinnacle <a Buddha>. The concept of Bodsittivas is a Buddha that postpones thier enlightenment to help others in their quest. Bodsittivas are as close to a diety as possible in Buddhism too from my understanding, simliar to saints in Wester relegions. Moderation and setation of desires are the main precepts of Buddhist believes, and through this, coupled with meditation one, a person leaving a restrained life, better controls themself, thier mind, and thier life in general. Buddhism is interesting in so much as at its foundation it says not to follow dogmatic teachings or writings. By doing this the relegio-philosphical belief of Buddhism stays fresh and ever-evoloving. Sidharth Gautama lived around 500 AD - 600 AD.

Buddhism by nature invokes thought and questioning your environment and the situations in which you live. It was through this that a new school of Buddhism was born. Called Zazen Buddhism, as zazen translated means to sit or to meditate. One of the major principles of the Buddhist believe is that through meditation one can not only calm thier mind but come to supernatural realizations - satori. Zen Buddhism was born from questioning the beauracracy of the Buddhist church, and the sophistry it created. Sophistry was where students of a certain temple would basically be able to buy thier status in the temple, instead of actually progressing in the church. There are two major schools of Zen Buddhism Renji Zen and Soto Zen. Soto Zen in its nature is to question everything, put all of your energy into every task you do. The Zen Master Dogen is credited with starting the Soto Zen school of Buddhism. While you medidate, medidate, while you eat, eat... do not let your mind wander or become distracted. Without distractions, legendary swordsmen have been forged as death is ever-present on thier minds and in thier hearts. Concentrating all of one's self to one task, if that task is handling a katana nothing less than lethal. It is the constant knowledge that death is part of life, and instead of being afraid, embracing and living life to the fullest at every moment. For a beautiful writing on this, find the Diamond Hard Sutra of the Zen Samurai. That is the text I read it as, it may be another text or go under another name. In closing, meditation has said to release special powers of the mind/spirit by calming the body. This backdrop would lend itself well to perhaps a mage/priest/warrior.

Other believes that influenced 16 century Japan were Confuciousism, which was a focus on fial piety. Fial piety is respect for your parents, respect for authority, structure of society, and doing what you can do to make it better and keep the laws of it.

Confucious was a Taoist. Taoist believes hinge on Ying and Yang concepts found in the Tao. By nature all things will strive for balance. Not only here on Earth but in the Heavens as well. There cannot be evil without good, there cannot be death without life, and there cannot be dark without light. Knowing this and striving for the balance held within is the main principle of Taoism. Lao Tsu and "Tao Te Ching" are good reading on the subject. Taoism is translated as "The Way" . Taoism and Confuciousism were more from China, but did influence the 16th century believes of Fuedal Japan.

by Gryph

Shinto is one of the world's oldest religions. It originated in ancient Japan thousands of years BC, and has changed and grown since.
"Shinto is the Sino-Japanese reading of two ideograms that are rendered into pure Japanse by the term, Kami-no-Michi, Meaning "the way of the Kami" or "The way of the Gods." Shinto thus signifies the characteristic cult practices and beliefs, relating for the most part to worship of the indigeneous Japanese Deities, wereby the Japanese people have celebrated, dramatized, interpeted, and suported the chief values of their group life.

The term Shinto in its proper historical usage does not carry us back to the earliest manafestations of the Japanese national religion. The word does not appear in literature until the latter part of the sixth century of the Western Era. In its more remote stages Shinto as a system appears to have been nameless. The designation came into existance after the introduction of buddhism into Japan and was evidently created in orter to distinguish the original Japanese cultes from the Way of Buddha.
Like most ancient religions, it is pantheistic, with many dieties and hundreds of spirits, or Kami."(from "An Encyclopedia of Religion" by Vergilius Ferm)
For us, to be Japanese is to be Shinto. It is an essential part of the culture, the history, even the politics, of our world. It is very important for one to know this and act it in roleplay.

Here are the basic tenets of Shinto that everybody should know:
1: Kami (spirits) are everywhere. Look out your window. See the people walking down the street? Each one of those has a kami shadowing him or one of the objects in his possession. See the rock in your garden? It has a kami too. The stream, the tree, the cat climbing on your keys--all have kami.
But they aren't the kami themselves, nor are the kami infinite and in them. Kami can move very fast, but they have finite size and shape.

2: Ghosts are kami. When someone dies, their soul becomes a kami, usually tied to the remains of its body. (Hence the keeping of a family member's ashes, and the veneration of ancestors. Unlike Christianity, where the family members could get a direct line to God if they were in heaven, kami are with you in your house.

3: Kami can be good or evil or just neutral. Above all, they are highly unpredictable. Sailors learn a healthy respect for the sea kami, who could stir up a great storm and swamp them, or give them clear watters and good wind. Some kami are purely evil; these are the ones that inhabit ghost stories in Japan.

4: The Emperor and all his line and all related to him are descended, in part, from the sun goddess Amaterasu-Omi-sama. Having a claim to partial divinity by bloodline is a big deal.

5: Swords and their masters share a soul. This is important. Swords should be treated with great respect, almost reverence. A samurai without a sword is nothing; the quality of his sword should reflect the quality of his spirit. One bows to one's sword after one puts it away or before one puts it on.


Caste System
Website found by ShininShado
by The Old Sage at http://www.inisfail.com/~ancients/sam-list.html

Originally Posted by The Old Sage
The Japanese Caste System (Social Structure of Japan)

Japan is theoretically ruled by a God Emperor who is the direct descendant of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, the Great Kami of the Sun, the Queen of Heaven. The Emperor, along with hereditary nobles, make up the Royal Court. In actual fact, though, the Emperor and the nobles have no real power. Their position is ritualistic and symbolic. Within the Imperial Court, the ranks are the Emperor, the Dajo-ko (retired Emperors) or Dajo-hoo (retired Emperors who have become Priests), then come the Kuge (the Imperial family and Court Nobles.

The real rulers of Japan are the Buke, the Warrior Caste. These are the samurai castes led by their Daimyos and ruled by the Shogun. The Shogun has total power of Life and Death over all those who live within the islands of Japan, and all territories conquered by Japan.

The Shogunate comprises the Shogun, who is also sometimes called Kwampaku or Taiko; the Shogun's clan; Bugyo (Commisioners); Kairei (Deputies); and Metsuke (Censors).

The Buke:

The Daimyo have total power in their provinces, answering only to the Shogunate. There are three ranks of Daimyo. They are: Kokushu, with an income of 500,000+ koku per year; Ryoshu, with an income of 100,000+ koku per year; Joshu, with an income of 10,000+ koku per year.

The Samurai, according to their status within the hierarchy of each Daimyo, has total power over those under him. Anyone dealing with the Samurai is advised that they have the right of cut and walk, which means they can cut down anyone of lower station without fear of reprisal. In reality, though, there can be reprisals. If he strikes down another Samurai it can cause a clan war and end with many of the Samurai of both houses being killed. Samurai vendettas have been known to be carried on for centuries, being passed from generation to generation.

Hatamoto are clan elders, advisors and supervisors. The Hatamoto ranks are: Kodai-yoriai, Samurai with an income of 1,000 koku per year;Yoriai, Samurai with an income of 500 koku per year; Kofushin, Samurai with an income of 100 koku per year.
Gokenin: Gokenin are managers and senior members of the clan, with an income of 50 koku per year or more.
Samurai are retainers (members of the clan) who recieve a stippend and/or fife.

Ji-zamurai: These are land holding Samurai with no retainer affiliation to one certain Daimyo. They are accorded all the rights of Samurai.

Ronin are Samurai by birth and station, but they have no holdings or affiliation with a clan or Daimyo. They are homeless and masterless. They fight as mercenaries and hope to gain a permanent affiliation with a Daimyo.

The Priesthood: Members of the Clergy, no matter what their birth caste.

The Heimin:

Peasants: Hyakusho. Farmers, Woodsmen and Fishermen.
Artisans: Shokunin. Craftsmen, porters and manufacturers.
Merchants: Akindo. Tradesmen, peddlers, large merchants, etc.

The Yakuza: Japan Gangsters.

The Ninja:

Jonin: Clan Head, Elders and Advisors.
Chunin: Supervisors and managers.
Genin: Members and Senior Members
Unaffiliated Ninja: Regarded with deep suspicion by all, not considered to be trustworthy.

Eta (the Untouchables):

Denzaemon: Local headman of Eta village.
Honin: Handlers of dead animals (butchers, tanners, leatherworkers, etc.).
Hinin: Handlers of dead humans (undertakers, etc.).
(Reproduced from http://www.inisfail.com/~ancients/sam-cult-hist.html on 4 June 2005)

Last edited by Gryph; 06-13-2005 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 06-04-2005, 06:45 PM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, from the top. (work in progress)

Feudal Japan From the Top
Page 2


Geography, History of Land Use
Compiled by ShininShado
These are some interesting facts about the terrain of Japan, as well as some overlooked aspects of water and rainfall.

Originally Posted by Japan Ministry of of Infrastructure and Transportation

Japan's 4 main islands - Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu - and more than 3,000 small islands cover a combined area of 377,727km2. These islands extend over 2,000km in total length but spread only about 300km in width.

Located in the Circum-Pacific "ring of fire", Japan is predominantly mountainous - about three-fourths of the national land is mountains - and long mountain ranges form the backbone of the archipelago. The dramatic Japan Alps, studded with 3,000-meter peaks, bisect the central portion of Honshu, the main island. Japan has around 200 volcanoes, about 60 of which are active. Consequently, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common.

This mountainous setting creates rivers that generally are short and have steep channel slopes. The rivers carry their sediment to the flatlands where they deposit it to form moderately sized alluvial plains.

Japan lies in the northeast tip of the Asian Monsoon Zone that encompasses India, China, Korea, and the Southeast Asian countries. The weather is generally mild and humid with considerable variation from north to south, and between the Pacific Ocean side to the east of the central mountain ranges and the Japan Sea side to the west.

The country's four distinct seasons feature three periods of heavy precipitation: Heavy winter snowfalls blanket the Japan Sea side in deep layers of snow, Particularly in the north (although the Pacific Ocean side normally remains clear and dry); tsuyu (the rainy season) brings continuous heavy rains to most of the archipelago during the second annual wet period in June and July; and typhoons that originate in the southern Pacific, assault the country - especially the southern portions - during the third wet period in September and October. These three wet periods shove the nation's average annual precipitation which is almost double of the world average.

Generally, precipitation occurs mostly during the tsuyu and typhoon seasons on the Pacific Ocean side, and during the typhoon season and in winter (in the form of heavy snow) on the Japan Sea side.
Characteristics of Rivers in Japan

Due to Japan's extreme topographical and meteorological conditions, the nation's rivers exhibit distinctive natural characteristics. Generally speaking, Japan's rivers can be characterized as follows. The rivers are prone to flooding because they flow rapidly, due to the steepness of slopes along their basins and the relative shortness. The ratio of peak flow discharge to basin area is relatively large, ranging from 10 times to as much as 100 times that of major rivers of other countries. The water level rises and falls very quickly. The river regime coefficient - the ratio of the maximum discharge to minimum discharge - is between 200 and 400,10 times larger than that of continental rivers. The volume of sediment runoff is large.
History of River Improvement

1) In ancient times people lived on and cultivated hilly areas or small flat areas in Valleys where no floods occurred. Gradually they moved to more spacious lowland areas where the land was more fertile and more productive. Land along bigger rivers was rich with the natural fertilizer transported and deposited by the rivers, and was more convenient to the rivers for drawing water for irrigation.

Although the people knew these lowland areas were vulnerable to flood disaster, they were willing to brave the danger in order to make their lives more productive. They began to build levees and to dig diversion drainage by hand to prevent flood disasters. Floods frequently overflowed the levees and destroyed them, inundating farmland and houses.

2) Until the Nara Era (710 - 794) most farmland was located in the small valleys where water was drawn from small streams and floods were not a problem. History shows that in the later Nara Era people began to move near the big rivers and to build levees.

In the year 742, the government issued a decree that inhabitants who had settled land could own it as private property.

The law encouraged the people to expand their land holdings, and eventually a system of shoen (manors governed by aristocrat landowners) evolved.

3) In the Shoen Era (9th - 15th century) property did not increase much because shoen were relatively small communities with too little manpower to expand the cultivated land on a large scale. Most of the water for irrigation was drawn from small ponds or catchment reservoirs.

4) From the Sengoku Era (16th century) to the Edo Era (17th - 19th century) ancient feudal lords were much more interested in expanding their farmland in order to become more powerful by increasing their economic strength.

During these eras people moved to the vast flatland areas near the mouths of the big rivers where the river channels fanned out haphazardly. They began to try to improve and control the rivers utilizing methods such as constructing dikes or levees, and digging channels.

Shingen Takeda, an ancient feudal lord in Kofu - what is today Yamanashi Prefecture - began works to control the Kamanashi River in order to protect the Kofu Area after the flood of 1542.

Hideyoshi Toyotomi also executed remarkable river improvement works, relocating the channel of the Kiso River in the Inuyama area, and constructing levees along the Yodo River.

The family of Hojo constructed levees at Kumagaya and Minotani along the Ara River in the Kanto region.

Kiyomasa Kato, a lord in the Kyushu region, improved the Shirakawa, Kikuchi, and Midori Rivers by installing retarding basins to mitigate flood damage.
(All information cited from Japan's Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation - http://www.mlit.go.jp)
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Old 06-13-2005, 10:36 PM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, from the top. (work in progress)

by ShininShadow

Some information on farming during Feudal Japan.

There was a class known as the ‘ji-samurai’; while they were officially of samurai lineage, they were farmers, merchants, and artisans as well. They were the ‘rung of the ladder’ between the samurai who did nothing but serve their lords, and the peasants who were strictly farmers. However, they were also being strangled by taxes, and soon came to seek the protection of Daimyo. This came at a price though; they not only pledged themselves and their clan to their warlord, but they gave him their land as well. Much of this changed, though, when the ji-samurai and peasants alike formed groups called ‘ikki’, who were essentially independent defense corps. They lead a revolt in Kyoto, which triggered similar revolts all throughout Japan to get the attention of the Daimyo. Thirteen years later, they revolted again to stop taxes, besieging Kyoto with riots and arson. After a week of rioting, the Shogunate was forced to cancel all debts, thus relieving the people of their stress. This, however, was a two-edged sword.
From website http://www.gamingw.net/articles/100

Explanation of value of koku and other info.

Feudal Japan functioned much like medieval Europe where farmers paid taxes to feudal lords in the form of crops. In Japan, taxes were levied based on the amount of rice produced or koku (one koku equaling approximately 5 bushels). For this reason, the more land a feudal lord controlled, the richer he became which led to many years of political conflict throughout Japan. In fact, until 1868, rice was Japan’s basic economic unit much like gold had been in Europe. Unlike in Europe, however, the farmer's social station was quite high. The social ladder was structured with the Emperor and ruling class on the top, then the samurai, then the farmer and at the bottom were the merchants and service class.
From website http://www.japancorner.com/rice.asp
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Old 06-18-2005, 07:07 PM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, from the top. (work in progress)

By ShininShado

Music: Of course we have no actual recordings from the time period, but many of its major instruments used during that time frame are still used today. There were three major sections of musical instruments:
1. Drums, of course simple percussion instruments, sometimes used in ceremonies, as thier rhythm were sometimes part of Buddhist prayers/Sutras/chants. As well, drums were used on the battlefield/along with banners/pennants to signal what sqaud had what orders.
Types of drums: ko tsuzumi and o tsuzumi were both hand drums, held in the hand and struck with the hand; a stick drum was called taiko and is still around today, translated it means "fat drum".
2. Stringed instruments were as well a thriving part of Japanese culture of the time, though I have never seen one of these instruments I have read several stories of them being used during the timeframe of the 16th century. Types of string instruments: Shamisen, probably the most popular string instrument of the time, three strings, about four feet in length, simliar to a banjo; the koto is another stringued instrument, usually 13 strings and around six feet in length, it would rest on the ground and a musician would kneel down to it. It is similiar to a harp, but it rests on the ground, and is straight in appearance. Cool site, simulates playing koto. Just playing a few notes really gives me a better feel for the game.
3. The last would be wind instruments, the most prevelant of which was the flute. Made of bamboo, simple but beautifully sounding instruments. "ORTHODOX HISTORIES OF THE SHAKUHACHI generally dwell upon the evolution of this five-hole bamboo flute in its later manifestations, after reaching the shores of Japan near the end of the 7th C. A six-hole, end-blown instrument which originated during the Tang Dynasty in China is thought to be an early forerunner of the modern shakuhachi. Its reedy voice can be discerned in gagaku, the orchestral music of the Imperial Japanese Court. Much later, during the Muromachi Period (13th-14th C.), a short, single-jointed flute called the hitoyogiri (also thought to have emerged through China or southwestern Asia) gained popularity amongst a class of beggar priests. Some ethnomusicologists trace the evolution of the shakuhachi back much further, to the banks of the Nile in ancient Egypt, and follow its movement east across the Iranian plateau and India via the Mohammedan Empire before reaching China. A jump across the Sea of Japan, however, was most decisive to this end-blown bamboo flute which reached a critical phase of development in feudal Japan destined to define its character forever. During the Edo Period (mid 16th to 17th C.) the shakuhachi was favored by a group of disenfranchised samurai warriors known as komuso. These mendicant Buddhist priests wandered the streets and countryside with large baskets called tengai covering their heads to symbolize spiritual detachment from the world. " (website: http://www.veronza.org/J-KJOH.html)

Music was played in the royal courts (gaguku), for the backdrop of plays(Nohgaku), as chants and prayers in Zen traditions(Shomyo), and sometimes by wandering folk musicians. By the way Mitsue, the sakura <cherry blossom> dance you talk about has its origins in a harvest festival I think I read.

General information on musical instruments and genres cited from: http://asnic.utexas.edu/asnic/count...n/japmusic.html
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Old 06-21-2005, 10:25 AM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, from the top. (work in progress)

By ShininShado

I guess best place to start would be where most of the influences came from for Feudal Japanese architecture. Most of these original influence came from China.
  • Periodic dispatch of Japanese envoys to the Tang Dynasty in China was stopped 100 years after the construction of the Heian-kyo capital, in today's Kyoto, at the end of the 8th century, and this official disconnection with China started the "Japanization" of cultural assets received from China. Japanese people gave birth to and refined architectural styles and techniques that thus became unique to Japan, just like they invented their own phonetic letters or kana based on Chinese characters. (Website http://www.kippo.or.jp/culture_e/build/history.htm)

    Historically, architecture in Japan was influenced by Chinese architecture, although the differences between the two are many. Whereas the exposed wood in Chinese buildings is painted, in Japanese buildings it traditionally has not been. Also, Chinese architecture was based on a lifestyle that included the use of chairs, while in Japan people customarily sat on the floor (a custom that began to change in the Meiji period [1868–1912]). (Website http://web-jpn.org/factsheet/arch/develop.html)

Other influences included climate.
  • Architecture in Japan has also been influenced by the climate. Summers in most of Japan are long, hot, and humid, a fact that is clearly reflected in the way homes are built. The traditional house is raised somewhat so that the air can move around and beneath it. Wood was the material of choice because it is cool in summer, warm in winter, and more flexible when subjected to earthquakes. (Website http://web-jpn.org/factsheet/arch/develop.html)

Buddhism also had a great deal of influence over Feudal Japanese buildings.
  • When Buddhism came to Japan in the sixth century, places dedicated to the worship of Buddha were constructed, their architectural forms originating in China and Korea. In each temple compound, a number of buildings were erected to serve the needs of the monks or nuns who lived there and, as importantly, to provide facilities where lay worshippers could gather.
    The main hall contained the most prominent object of worship. The lecture hall, which in early temples was most often the largest structure, was used by monks as a place for study, instruction and performing rituals.
    (Website http://web-jpn.org/factsheet/arch/buddhist.html) Zen gardens had their place during this time, arrangements of sand, stones and trees, they were a symbol of tranquility and a place for monks and layman to meet and have discussions or just contemplate life. Link here for an interactive chance to create own garden.

Shintoism was as well a contributing factor of Japanese architecture during the 16th Century.
  • Followers of Shinto believe that a kami (deity) exists in virtually every natural object or phenomenon, from active volcanoes and beautiful mountains to trees, rocks, and waterfalls. Shinto shrines are places where kami are enshrined, and also where people can worship.

    Rather than follow a set arrangement, shrine buildings are situated according to the environment. From a precinct’s distinctive torii gate, a path or roadway leads to the main shrine building, with the route marked by stone lanterns. To preserve the purity of the shrine precinct, water basins are provided so that worshippers can wash their hands and mouths. Komainu, pairs of lionlike figures placed in front of the gates or main halls of many shrines, serve as shrine guardians.
    (Website http://web-jpn.org/factsheet/arch/shinto.html)

Novel building ideas of the time.
  • Incorporated into Zen monasteries and temples: On the ceilings of such halls as Shokokuji Temple, Tenryuji Temple and Myoshinji Temple in Kyoto are drawings of dragons. In Shokokuji Temple, when you clap your hands, a long reverberating echo, traditionally called the "roaring dragon", is heard. This sound is in fact caused by the ceiling. A sound produced between two parallel planes, the floor and the ceiling, repeatedly bounces between them, causing acoustic reflections and subtle overlapping of echoes. The result is unique sound waves, the roar of the dragon. (Website http://www.kippo.or.jp/culture_e/build/archi.htm) Dragons and clouds were a popular theme of Zen temples.
  • Another novel idea that was used sometimes to detect intruders, "Nightingale Floors": At some temples, when you walk on the floor you hear the floor sing with your every step. This type of floor is called a nightingale floor, and the singing sound is produced as the clamps used to fix the floorboards rub against holes in the floor boards as a person walks above. The beautiful sound was associated with the singing of a nightingale, hence the name. This phenomenon has been found to be naturally caused by the warping of the floorboards from long years of wind and rain or by the expanding of the holes due to the heavy load of people walking above. (Website http://www.kippo.or.jp/culture_e/build/archi.htm) There are stories of this technique used to warn of intruders as well.

Shiro is the term used for a Japanese Castle, and was a major part of Feudal Japan.
  • The need for castles arouse after the central government's authority had weakened in the 15th century and Japan had fallen into the chaotic era of warring states (sengoku jidai). During that era, Japan consisted of dozens of small independent states which were fighting each other and, for defense purposes, were building small castles on top of mountains. (Website http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2296.html)
  • Shiro’s were built on strategic sites to take advantage of the position itself (eg. height advantage, difficult access for an aggressor, water and supply availability, ease of communication and control of transport routes). The three main situations shiro’s were built were;

    1) on the top of a hill (yamajiro);

    2) and on a hill surrounded by a flat plain (hirayamajiro);

    3) on a flat plain (hirajiro).

    A yamajiro (J. mountain castle) was usually built on a mountain top or some other elevated position, constructed using walls of rocks and earth to reinforce the natural defences of the site, a moat was optional. This form of castle was the favoured form prior to the latter half of the 16th century, were the lessening of civil strife began to show an effect.

    A hirayamajiro (J. flatland hill castle) was constructed on a hill on a plain, thus taking the positional advantage of the surrounding area.

    A hirajiro (J. flatland castle) was developed after the necessity of the yamajiro fortification declined with the cessation of civil war in the 17th century. These castles were built on the plains and served as administration centres of the surrounding area.

    The basic design of a shiro consists four main elements:

    1) Moats or hori;

    2) Walls or ishigaki;

    3) Gates or mon;

    4) and Towers or tenshu.
    (Website http://www.angelfire.com/wy/svenskildbiter/shiro.html)
  • More about construction of the shiro. The typical, large castle consisted of three rings of defense, with the so called honmaru ("main circle") in the center followed by the ninomaru ("second circle") and sannomaru ("third circle"). The castle tower stood in the honmaru, while the lords usually lived at a more comfortable residence in the ninomaru.

    In the town around the castle, the samurai were residing. The higher their rank, the closer they lived to the castle. Merchants and artisans lived in special areas, while temple and entertainment districts were usually located just outside the city. Tokyo and Kanazawa are two good examples among many Japanese cities which evolved as castle towns.
    The main construction material for castle buildings used to be wood, as can be witnessed when visiting the interior of one of the surviving original castles. Most newer reconstructions, however, are made of concrete, and their interiors are modern. Most castles now house a museum.
    (Website http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2296.html)

Housing in any society can reflect many aspects of its culture. As can be expected, the pinnacle of Feudal Japanese housing belonged to the Emperor, followed by shogun, daimyo and other family or clan leaders of the time. Of course, one needed resources in the form of koku to build castles, and there was a culture centered around the building of these castles, sprawling towns sprung up around the castles, known as "Castle Towns", wherein the workers used to create the castle, just made their houses around the castle. This also provided fodder in case of invasion, and gave the troops inside the castle time to react. This essay is about the different lower castes of Medieval Japan and the housing they lived in, the construction, and other interesting aspects. It should be noted that shoes of any sort were not worn in most dwellings in Feudal Japan.

First off, under the daimyo and shogun caste, was the samurai caste. Comprised almost exclusively of warriors, the samurai <translated means he who serves> held both status and power during the time. The actual samurai, whom comprised daimyo's gaurd, retainers to Lords, and whom generally were held by the principals of honor and duty to family and clans to which they served, often times owned their own land, granted them for protection and servitude by the daimyo. Another name for the samurai class was the bushi. Bushi <warrior> and do <ways> translate to bushido or warrior ways or the way of the warrior, and was the code with which most samurai lived their lives.

Knowing that samurai owned their own land, and were often times paid by the daimyos they served, allowing for greater housing and circumstances than almost any during the time. Most of the houses were built "primarily of wood, paper, and thatch and clay tiles(1)." Though this lead to more vulnerablity to fire, it also meant that they could repaired more easily in the case of an earthquake or bad storm. It should be noted as well, though samurai had estates of their own, many lived right on the outside of the castle of the Lord they served, allowing for greater security of the castle and the territory they lived.

The actual construction of the samurai's house consisted in most cases "of several single-story buildings surrounding a small garden or courtyard(1)". These rooms served different purposes for their location. One of the first rooms guests would enter would be "a reception chamber which houses the tokonoma - an alcove in which the family's treasures are placed, along with a wall hanging which is changed according to the season. This room also contains a small altar dedicated to the ancestors.(1)" Worshipping ancestors and honoring their memory was very important to the Shinto way of life, and building an altar with which to remember them was commonplace. The rest of the home is decorated with very simple decorations, "futons (sleeping mats)(1)", tables, and braziers for warmth during winter months. Another important part of the samurai's home was "a formal audience chamber contains a raised dais for the lord to sit on, and probably folding screens in case someone wants a "private" conversation.(1)" Paper walls were also used in the construction of the samurai's home.

Tea ceremonies became popular during the Feudal age of Japan, and a special place to have these ceremonies came to be, called tea houses. These structures were either in the garden of a Lord or samurai, or somtimes actually attached to the home. The only real purpose of these structures were to host tea ceremonies and "tea houses in Japan are usually small, wooden buildings and are located in remote, quiet areas or in the gardens or grounds of larger houses.(2)" The construction of the the tea house was relatively simple and "is usually built of wood and bamboo, and the only entrance and exit is a small, square door which symbolically separates the small, simple, quiet inside from the crowded, overwhelming outside world, and encourages humility in the host and guests, as all must kneel to enter the room. Tea houses usually consist of two rooms, one used for the preparation of food, snacks and tea supplies, and the other for the holding of the tea ceremony itself.(2)" Removing ones shoes or sandals before entering was a must for tea houses.

It should be mentioned too, that depending on the geographic area of the home, it varied with the roofing, floor, or walls. The Northern most would have to built to withstand the snow, and the Southern most the heat. As far as farmer's homes, "some farmers' houses had space to keep their cattle and horses indoors, while the houses of city dwellers were often squeezed close together along the streets.(3)" As well, houses during the Feudal time period were at times constructed with stilts or with the floor being lifted from the ground, in case a flood.

In contrast to the samurai's home being one central building with serveral built around it, for the most part, "a peasant dwelling is usually a single larger building. Few heimin can afford ceilings, raised floors, or paper walls; instead, walls are made of wood, or plaster over bamboo. Instead of braziers, there is an irori (fire pit) which is used for heating and cooking. (1)"

As well, "peasants living in cities usually have row houses; the price of the lot depends on its width, since access to the street is of vital importance. Workshops and stores are located in the part of the building facing the street, while the inner part serves as living quarters.(1)" This was common of the lower castes of the merchants, and artisans, and "as urban homeowners were taxed based on the width of the front side of the house, their houses were built to be long and narrow.(3)"

Very few of the actual houses from Medieval Japan exist today as wood was the main building material used.


1: http://agatepalace.org/youngsamurai.phtml
2: http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/en...e/tea_house.htm
3: http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/virtual/house/history.html

Last edited by Gryph; 06-21-2005 at 01:44 PM.
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, from the top. (work in progress)

Christianity's Influcence on Japan
Compiled by ShininShado

Though Christianity hadn't really emerged in Japan until the mid 16th Century, I do not doubt that it did have some affect on the culture there. Although, from the research I found, Christianity was basically outlawed by the first half of the 17th Century, seeing as Jesuits and Franciscans were sometimes slaughtered after this ban on Christianity, I am not sure how much of the Christian influence was felt in the realm of architecture. The Feudal Age of Japan was ending as Christianity started to take a foothold. I skipped Christianity all together in the relegion post, as I figured it would go hand and hand with firearms from the Europeans, and incorporating that into the game design would be tough without explaing firearms. If there was any influence of Christianity of architecture in Feudal Japan it was minimal, even though it did alter other aspects of Japan's history. Also, Christian influence was more based upon the culture of the missionaries rather than having its own influence in most cases. Missionaries in South America looked Spanish in nature, while missionaries in other parts of the world may have looked simliar but instead of the "Christian" influence it was more a mirror of the culture of the missionaries who traveled to new lands. Several articles about the subject:

  • Great changes for Japan began in the middle of the 1500's. This was when the Jesuits arrived in Japan. They followed many of the same methods they were using in India. A historian, William E. Griffis, wrote, "Whole districts were ordered to become Christians. The bonzes [Buddhist priests] were exiled or killed, and fire and sword as well as preaching were employed as a means of conversion." Truth Triumphant 377. For a hundred years the patient Japanese people put up with the destruction caused by the Jesuits. Finally they unified to get rid of the foreigners in their country. Signs were made which said, "Christians to the sea." To make sure outsiders wouldn't disturb them, the Japanese banned all foreigners from entering their country. For the next two hundred years Japan was cut off from the outside world. (Website http://www.tt.writtentreasures.org/part_5.html)
  • Christianity had an impact on Japan, largely through the efforts of the Jesuits, led first by Saint Quick Facts about: Francis Xavier
    Quick Summary not found for this subjectFrancis Xavier (1506- 52), who arrived in Kagoshima in southern Kyushu in 1549. Both daimyo and merchants seeking better trade arrangements as well as peasants were among the converts. By 1560 Kyoto had become another major area of missionary activity in Japan. In 1568 the port of Nagasaki, in northwestern Quick Facts about: Kyushu
    The southernmost of the four main islands of Japan; contains coal fieldsKyushu, was established by a Christian daimyo and was turned over to Jesuit administration in 1579. By 1582 there were as many as 150,000 converts (two percent of the population) and 200 churches. But bakufu tolerance for this alien influence diminished as the country became more unified and the openness of the period decreased. Proscriptions against Christianity began in 1587 and outright persecutions in 1597. Although foreign trade was still encouraged, it was closely regulated, and by 1640 the exclusion and suppression of Christianity had become national policy.
    (Website http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/enc...chi_period.htm)
  • Following the accidental landing of a Portuguese ship in 1542 at Kagoshima Prefecture, the zealous Christian missionary Francis Xavier arrived in another part of the territory in 1549. Xavier, left for China in 1551 (dying soon after departure), but his followers converted a number of daimyo (warlords), the most notable of whom was Omura Sumitada. His conversion was to prove profitable, as a deal was struck in which he would receive a proportion of the trade from Portuguese ships at a port that the two parties established in 1571. This port was Nagasaki.(Website http://uk.holidaysguide.yahoo.com/p-...saki_history-i)
  • The timing of Xavier's arrival in Japan and the founding of his Christian missions corresponded closely with the end of Sengoku period and of the Onoin wars and the beginning of the efforts to u nify Japan by Oda Nobunaga. The same year (1552) that Xavier left Japan seeking entry into China for his missionaries, Oda Nobunaga became the ruler of the Oda Diaymo in Owari Province and began the unification of Japan by a constant series of military conquests. This was a very turbulent time in Japanese history and the internal politics of the unification of Japan was a complex affair of interactions between warring factions within the country. Oda Nobunaga embraced and encouraged the manufacture and use of firearms, a technology that was brought to Japan by the Europeans, and by doing so completely changed the way in which warfare was conducted in Japan. (Website http://www.artsales.com/ARTistory/Xavier/Xavier_1.html)
  • In the year 1542, the first Europeans from Portugal landed on Kyushu in Western Japan. The two historically most important things they imported to Japan were gunpowder and Christianity. The Japanese barons on Kyushu welcomed foreign trade especially because of the new weapons, and, therefore, tolerated the Jesuit missionaries. The missionaires were successful in converting quite large numbers of people in Western Japan including members of the ruling class. In 1550, Francis Xavier also undertook a mission to the capital Kyoto.

    Towards the end of the 16th century, the Jesuits lost their monopoly position in Japan when Franciscan missionaries arrived in Kyoto despite a first banning edict by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In 1597, Hideyoshi proclaimed a more serious banning edict and executed 26 Franciscans in Nagasaki as a warning. Tokugawa Ieyasu and his successors continued the persecution of Christianity in several further edicts.

    Monument for the 26 Franciscans in Nagasaki.

    The main reason which led to the complete extinction of Christianity in Japan by 1638 were the government's intentions to excert absolute control over its people. This would not have been possible with the interference of an aggressive and intolerant foreign religion like Christianity of that time.
    (Website http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2298.html)

  • Even some of the daimyos and shoguns of the time actively supported Christianity, the most prominent among them being Oda Nobunga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (although Hideyoshi's support can be seen just as an offshoot of his intense hatred of Buddhism). While Nobunga rose to power, in fact, "Christianity approached the status of a state religion".

    This period of tolerance, however, abruptly came to an end in the early 1600s, culminating in the total banning of Christianity by the Tokugawa regime in 1640. When a young man named Amakusa Shiro led a popular Christian uprising at Shimabara in 1638, he and tens of thousands of his followers were massacred.

    The Japanese, and especially the Tokugawa rulers of the time, saw Christianity as a symbol of the "dangers of European colonialism" The Japanese have always been somewhat distrustful of the West, lasting until Commodore Matthew Perry forcibly "opened" Japan in 1853. Christianity was thought of as a "foot in the door" through which the Western powers such as Great Britain, Portugal, Spain, and France were increasing their influence upon Japanese affairs. The Japanese rulers saw this as a threat to their unquestioned control, and so they began their merciless persecution of Christianity--over the next two hundred years, "all families were to be registered at a Buddhist temple...Christianity was virtually eliminated from the country.
    (Website http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=986571)
  • Tensions between the Buddhists and the Jesuits began as early at 1565, when the Buddhists "persuaded the imperial court to expel the Jesuits from the capital." However, this order was reversed four years later, so all throughout Nobunga's reign, with his encouragement, the Jesuits could practice freely. Nobunga's successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, followed the example of eliminating the power of Buddhist groups. However, he did also practice a sort of religious tolerance towards a section of Buddhists, as well as all other religions at that time. This tolerance was the reason that in 1587, though he issued the "Edict of Banishment of Missionaries" he did not enforce it until ten years later. The edict stated that "henceforward, anyone coming from India who does not interfere with the laws of the Shinto and Buddhist deities may come freely to Japan." This edict was a result of anti-Kirishitan beliefs among his advisors, the Kirishitan daimyo's power struggle, and the disunity of Kirishitan groups. Most alarming still was the almost complete control the missionaries had on parts of Japan.
    Ignoring this edicts, the Franciscans arrived, bringing with them discord and rivalry with the established Jesuit faction. This very public rivalry, as well as the shipwreck of the Spanish ship the Sam Felipe, are listed as direct causes of the martyrdom of 26 men in Nagasaki, in 1597, and the additional order than all Jesuits leave the country immediately.
    Upon Hideyoshi's death in 1598, the persecution of the Kirishitan's stopped. His successor, Tokugawa Iyeyasu, wished to pursue trade with the Portuguese and Spain, so he made peace with the Jesuits and Franciscans. This peace lasted until 1614, when a ban was placed on the Kirishitan religion, on the grounds "that it was detrimental to the welfare of the nation and contrary to the teachings of Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism." The edict also made Buddhism a branch of the governmental structure. Two years later, and even stricter policy on banning Kirishitans was issued, proclaiming that those caught practicing the religion could receive the penalty of death. This intensified persecution escalated, until the seclusion of Japan was put into effect in 1639. At that point, all the Kirishitans who had not been hunted down, killed, or tortured wisely hide their heads, and their faith.
    (Website http://people.stu.ca/~gxlbw/truth/report3.htm)

As far as modern day believes in Japan; By 1996, less than 2.5 percent of the Japanese population were Christians though the numbers had greatly increased to 3,170,000. (Website http://www.asianinfo.org/asianinfo/j...m#CHRISTIANITY), Christian 1%, of whom Evangelicals 0.32% (Website http://www.us.omf.org/content.asp?id=23594) Other sites I read ranged from 2.0% to 0.7%, as opposed to the 85% of Shinto or Buddhist or a combination of both relegions.
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Old 06-21-2005, 11:26 AM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, from the top. (work in progress)

Unarmed martial arts
by Gryph

//the section that used to be in this space has been revealed to be inaccurate. It has been removed. What remains I think is correct still.//

Common ways of standing

PLEASE REMEMBER, even though I talk about "stances", stances are not fighting. Fighting is movement, and movement is fighting. Stances are only very temporary things that one ends up in after moving and while fighting. They are most useful for delivering or countering certain types of blows, in certain directions. Nobody has a "fighting stance" that they stay in for the entirety of a fight.

If you are in a fight and are in the same stance for more than a few seconds, you are doing something wrong.

Here are the most common ways of standing.

-the "horse-riding stance", which has your heels wider than your shoulders, your toes pointing naturally, and your body facing the direction of one foot or the other, rather than perpendicular to your legs. It is useful for defending against attacks on the same line as your feet, but not very useful for defending against attacks from perpendicular to the line between your feet.

This is a person standing in a horse-riding stance.

-the "front-facing stance", which has your body standing as if you are about to start running. This is useful for delivering very powerful attacks by stepping through the stance while placing a kick or punch. But, you have a high center of balance and can only move very well in one direction (forward), so it is bad to be standing like this unless you are about to strike or advance on an enemy to the front.

This is a person standing in a front-facing stance.

-the "cat stance", which has all your weight on your back leg and your front leg poised for a kick. This is useful for attacks with the forward foot and leg, and is also useful if the enemy is literally right on top of you because your balance point is further back and you can use your front knee on your attacker. It is also a good starting position because you can spring out of it with great speed and force.

This is a person standing in a cat stance.

-the three-ways stance, which has your toes pointing slightly inward and your center of balance low. This is the best way of standing when the enemy is very close or when there are several very close enemies. It is not so good for attacking as other stances, but it is very effective at defending against blows from nearby. When one steps, one straigthens the front foot, then moves the back foot in towards the front foot, then out again, in a half-circle, or does that in reverse to go backwards.

This is a person in the three-ways stance

Last edited by Gryph; 04-08-2007 at 11:04 AM.
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Default Music.



One of the characteristic features of Japanese culture is the way in which the cultural elements of a variety of lands exist side by side in harmony, exerting a constant influence on the existing culture and thus producing a new culture as a result. Music is no exception. The music listened to or played by the Japanese as part of their daily lives is extremely diverse. They enjoy various kinds of traditional Japanese music, Japanese popular songs, American pops, Western classics, and so on, although there are limits to each type's popularity. While music was once confined primarily to live performances in concert, the introduction of radio and later television brought it into homes of the masses. The explosive popularity of electronic reproducing systems in recent years has made music an almost indispensable element in the daily lives of most Japanese.


There are two types in traditional Japanese music: art music and folk music. Art music has several different styles, each of which was established separately in different periods of Japanese history. The Japanese have maintained those time-honored styles, modifying them as time has passed. In general, vocal music plays a more important role than instrumental music in the history of Japanese music. Besides, traditional Japanese music often developed as a part of drama such as Noh, Kabukl, and Bunraku.


The first significant development in the history of Japanese music took place in the Heian Period (794-1192 A.D), While Japanese music which had been popular among common people was being sophisticated, all kinds of music from various Asian countries In the previous two centuries were being assimilated and modified, acquiring distinct Japanese characteristics. Gagaku is the music which was performed mainly at Court among the powerful nobility and upper classes.

Gagaku is classified into three categories: original foreign music, pure Japanese music, and music composed in Japan using influences from other countries. The representative genre of Gagaku has its origin in China, Korea, and other countries in Southeast Asia or South Asia, and is divided into two types such as To-gaku or music of Chinese origin, and Komagaku or music of Korean origin. It is orchestral music without any vocal part. The music is known as Kangen and when accompanied by dancing is called Bugaku.

Pure Japanese music, called Kokufu kabu or Japanese Song Dance, is vocal music with instrumental accompaniment. It is based on very ancient music performed at shrine rites as well as Court ceremonies. The last category includes Saibara with its origin in folk songs and Roei for chanting Chinese poems. They are accompanied with instrumental music.

Instruments used in Gagaku are mouth organs, flageolite-type instruments, flutes, drums, and zither. Arrangements of these instruments differ depending on the genre of music. Gagaku is performed at Court, shrines, and some temples. Recently it has attracted young people's attention and is sometimes used in contemporary music. (For additional information, refer to Facts about Japan: GAGAKU).

In addition to Gagaku, another important music style, Shomyo, was formed during the Heian Period. It is vocal music used in Buddhist services and became a very significant source of Japanese vocal music which developed later.


During the Kamakura Period (1192 1333 A.D), through the Muromachi Period (1338-1573 A.D.), there was a steady growth of folk theatrical arts from shrine ritual plays and peasant rice-planting dances. By the end of the 14th century, there had developed the artistic Noh drama with its own music called Nohgaku, and dancing known as Shimai. Noh is highly stylized and symbolic drama, and is usually performed by a few male actors and musicians. A main character often wears a mask which fits its role.

Nohgaku has two elements in it: vocal and instrumental. The vocal part called Utai is performed by both actors and a chorus of eight male singers and tells the story. This vocal part which is derived from Shomyo (Buddhist chanting) includes singing and speech stylized m a definite pattern of intonation. Singing is not always accompanied with instruments. The instrumental part known as Hayashi consists of a bamboo flute, or nohkan, and three drums, ko-tsuzumi, o-tsuzumi, and taiko. Taiko is not used in all pieces of the Noh. The flute, the only melodic instrument, produces several short melody patterns. The ko-tsuzumi and o-tsuzumi are played mostly by bare hands while the taiko is played by two drumsticks. Short and sharp shouts by drum performers known as kakegoe also play important musical roles enhancing the tension of the music.

Nohgaku had been patronized by the higher military class which was the most powerful social level in Japan. After the Meiji Restoration when the old hierarchy was discarded, it tried to win new patrons and succeeded in attracting the nobility and wealthy people. Nowadays, it is gaining support from among the general public, too.


The Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1573 1603 A.D.), is important in the historical development of several instruments. The primitive recorder was modified to become the artistic shakuhachi, while the old court zither became the more sonorous koto. The shamisen (a three-stringed balalaika-type guitar) also took on its present shape. All these instruments achieved great popularity in the Edo Period (1603-1868) by various routes.

Shakuhachi was originally played as a part of a Zen service or practice and was the favorite instrument among wandering Buddhist priests. Although the shakuhachi became a purely musical instrument performed by musicians, solo pieces with strong religious significance are still regarded as the most important form of shakuhachi music. It also started to be used with the shamisen and koto as pure music without emphasizing its religious background.

The music for koto is called Sokyoku. Sokyoku had been composed, played, and transmitted solely by the blind while women and girls in the higher military and wealthy merchant classes learned it as part of their cultural education. Two major schools of Sokyoku, the Ikuta school and the Yamada school, were founded in the Edo Period. Most of the pieces performed by the Ikuta school have their sources in Jiuta which is a genre of vocal music accompanied by the shamisen. They often accompany singing together with the shamisen. However, the primary characteristic of this school is its emphasis on instrumental technique unlike other traditional art music. Even a vocal piece has an independent instrumental part which has beauty as absolute music. On the other hand, the Yamada school puts its stress on the vocal elements rather than the instrumental elements. It is characterized by its narrative singing. Both the Ikuta and the Yamada schools include in their repertoires some selections which do not have vocal parts.

The shamisen is used for accompaniment of two types of vocal music: melodious singing and narrative singing. The former type of shamisen music developed in two different directions, Jiuta and Nagauta; Jiuta has been enjoyed as pure music, following an independent existence as music itself; Nagauta was formed as accompaniment for dancing in traditional Kabuki dramas. Later Nagauta has come to be played by itself without dancing in much the same way as the original was played as an accompaniment for dancing. Several styles of shamisen music have been derived from these two major types.

Narrative singing has also several styles of music such as Gidayu-bushi, Kiyomoto, 70ki~axu, and Shin'nai. Gidayu-bushi is mainly used for telling the story in the Bunraku puppet theater. Kiyomoto and Tokiwaxu are often used as accompaniment for dancing in Kabuki. But they are also performed as independent music as is Shin'nai. During the Edo Period, the shamisen be came the favorite instrument in the entertainment district of larger cities. Shakuhachi, koto, and shamisen are often used in trio as pure music.

Info on this and more go to: http://asnic.utexas.edu/asnic/countr.../japmusic.html
狐氏ま Ujima Kitsune[font=Verdana]

Last edited by ShininShado; 08-02-2005 at 05:40 PM. Reason: Edit content.
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Default General culture.

Essay on culture in general in Feudal Japan, compiled from general knowledge.

Plays were prevelant, music flourished, art, and literature were all a major component of the time. Elsewise, how would we, a civilization 500ish years later, know so much about the time period? Of course a smaller village would not play host to the intellect of that of a larger city, noble's estate or Emperor's courtyard. More about these sections.

Theater: Plays consisted of mainly of musicians and dancers, with Buddhist themes mostly. During this same time Medieval Europe had what were called "Moral<ity> Plays", we see the same thing mirrored here in Japan during this time frame. Some did not contain dialogue, just dancing with symbolism, perhaps outfits. One outfitted character would represent lust/delusion perhaps another would represent truth/virtue... and the play would act itself out from there. From what I have know <not sure about this> only male actors played parts in plays during this time. Three major parts Noh, <oldest> Banraku, <puppet> Kyogen <comediec> comprise theatre in 16th century Japan. Puppets were also used as puppetshows. Geisha dancers were also a part of this timeframe, and I believe that make up first became popular during this overall time frame.

Literature would be the next section to delve into. I will go so far as to say that the closest thing to a Renaissance the Orient experienced was during this time. Most texts were of a relegious nature, Buddhist, Zen, etc, as these provoke thought, many writings abound about them. Also being taught to read and write was a big deal at this time. Court ledgers, scribes also wrote the exploits of their Lords. Most of what I've read from the time is poetry, which flourished during this time. That coupled with Zen text you can a really get a solid feel for the time frame. Honor/family are among the main themes, as are the "Heavens", life and love. Though not completely clear when haiku became a popular form of poetry, it would fit into the context of this game. 17 syllabyls, it deals mainly with nature and ones releationship with nature. Imagery is a vital part of this form of poetry as its simplicity lends itself to creating a vivid mental image with as little words as possible. Like painting a beautiful picture with as few brushstrokes as possible. Military themed writings also were popular as they retold the tales of warlords and swordsmen alike and were more than likely commissioned most of the time.
How oft doth thou hear words so strong, yet so soft?
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