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World History: Chapter 18 Section 3 - Japanese Culture and Society

Terms in this set (27)

Shinto is a traditional religion that originated in Japan. It means "the way of the gods." After Buddhism entered Japan, many elements of Shinto merged into the new religion. Shinto lost many followers especially in the cities. But it remained strong in rural areas. Today, Shinto and Buddhism exist side by side in Japan. Many Japanese think of themselves as followers of both religions. Scholars believed that Shinto came into Japan with the Yayoi people. This religion had no founder, scripture, or permanent set of gods. For centuries, it did not even have a name. Yet it was a vital force in everyone's life. The Sun Goddess plays a central role in creation myths. One story explains how Japan came to be ruled by an emperor. It explains how the Sun Goddess and her brother, the Storm God, often fought. Each supported different clans who were fighting to rule Japan. The Sun Goddess won the conflict. She sent her grandson Ninigi to rule Japan. The Sun Goddess gave Ninigi three treasures. The first, a bronze mirror, symbolized truth. The second, stood for wisdom. The third, a string of jewels, represented kindness. Ninigi passed down all three treasures to his great-grandson Jimmu. According to myth, Jimmu became Japan's first emperor in 660 B.C. As a result, all Japanese emperors came to be thought of as living gods on Earth. The Japanese believed that kami could be found in mountains, trees, rivers, and other natural objects. Through the kami, the people were taught proper behavior and values. A shrine is a place of worship. The Japanese built Shinto shrines, or places of worship, wherever they felt the power of the kami. Thousands of such shrines still exist throughout Japan.
Confucianism also introduced the value of harmony to Japanese society. Due to the fact that Confucius grew up during warfare and corruption in China, the idea of harmony, which is an agreement, was very important to him. Concern for harmony led to the practice of seeking consensus. Consensus is an agreement among the members of a group. For women, Confucianism had a negative affect. Before, women headed clans and ruled as empresses. That changed, however, with the arrival of Confucianism. Men dominated Confucian relationships. A woman was expected to obey first her father and the her husband. Some forms of Buddhism held a similar view of women. According to Buddhist scripture, or sacred writing, "no women are to be found" in paradise. Women were barred from some temples. As Murasaki Shikibu wrote in "The Tale of Gengi", "Whatever their station in life may be, women are bound to have a hard lot, not only in this life but in the world to come." The examinations given to many, which only few passed were based off of the ideas and teachings of Confucius. His ideas about the importance of practical moral values, collected by his disciples in the Analects, formed the basis of philosophy known as Confucianism. This man was born during the decline of the Zhou dynasty to a poor family in 551 B.C.E. He worked as a low-level government official where he saw greed and corruption. Other problems Confucius examined were the laws not being enforced, there was bribery, there were many favors for the rich, the poor starved and taxed for wars. Confucius saw the problems as being caused by turning away from traditional values. Confucius believed that in well-ordered societies, 5 relationships were central to success of the society. Persons of lower status should respect their senior and all people act according to their roles in society. 1. Father and Son: The most important relationship is father and Son (or parent and child). The Father should be loving; the son should be reverential. Filial piety-devotion of children to parents is the source of all virtues. This is the basis of all other relationships. "The father who does not teach his son his duties is equally guilty with the son who neglects him." (Confucius) 2. Husband and Wife: The husband should be good to his wife; the wife should be a good listener. 3. Older Brother and Younger Brother: Older brother should be gentle; younger brother should be respectful. 4. Ruler and Subject: Ruler should be beneficial; subject should be loyal. The ruler should do good things for the subjects. The subjects in return give their loyalty to a good ruler. 5. Older Friend and Younger Friend: Older friend should be considerate; younger friend should be deferential. Older friend should consider what the younger friend has to say. The younger friend should defer to the elders experience. His students collected Confucius' works and published in work called "Analect." His student Mencius spread his ideas. His thought still has a profound effect on Chinese society today, as well as its effect on world thoughts. In understanding Chinese society and government today, don't forget the influence of Confucius.