Openness In Japan

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In a Eurocentric point of view, Japan was seen as a relatively “closed” country throughout the Tokugawa Period in comparison to the new technologies of the West that increased the possibilities of overseas contact and trade. Although the main island of Jama, Honshu, was surrounded by different groups of people (the Ainu, Chinese, Korean and Ryukyus) the dominant ethnic group known as the Wajin, were not particularly fond of anything foreign. They were also extremely suspicious of religions besides Shintoism and Buddhism, especially after the arrival of Jesuits. Furthermore, Tokugawa Japan did not conduct trade with any other European except the Dutch, thus appearing to be a closed country in Europe’s eyes. However, Japan’s continuous foreign…show more content…
One of the unifiers, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, had shifted the rights to control shipping to the “broader public authority” in the north, which ultimately increased intra-Asian trade by connecting Japan with Korea, the Ainu, and northern China. As a result, the Matsume Clan became the head of “the centre of the region’s trade activity”, ultimately proving that the Japanese did not simply reject the Ainu, but instead utilized their presence to further expand trade. Furthermore, Walker also notes the positive outcome, in which “these political and commercial developments in northeastern Japan ushered in the full-blown emergence of Ainu culture”. In relation to the Europeans, it is undeniable that Christianity was banned in Japan, but that did not mean it disappeared completely. “Kakure Kirishitans”, or “Hidden Christians”, continued to practice the religion underground after the government began to arrest, and even execute, others. Despite being detracted from contact with proper Christian methodology, the Kakure Kirishitans nevertheless embody the influence of early European teachings, and are a symbol of Japan’s first encounter with the West. Ultimately, Japan did have a strict attitude towards those…show more content…
Because Korea and China had far greater abundancies of resources, it was inevitable that Japan would have to interact with them in one way or another. The success of these interactions is seen through the adoption of Korean-style art forms and Chinese Neo-Confucianism. Although the Japanese invasion was ruthless in the eyes of the Koreans, the renowned Japanese pottery in Imari was actually heavily influenced by Korean labourers and artisans who were captured during this time. The influence of Neo-Confucianism also played a significant role in Japanese society, as it was adopted by Tokugawa Ieyasu and Fujiwara Seika to be the “cultural and educational policy of the new shogunate”. Because Neo-Confucianism became the dominant ideology of the three greater Asian countries (Japan, Korea, and China), it served “as a moral basis for international dealings”, thus increasing the efficiency of intra-Asian trade. Neo-Confucianism became so widely accepted that scholars of Japanese Neo-Confucianism even perceived themselves to be the original bearers of its ideologies and the “homeland of the gods”. Moreover, many Japanese continued to follow this ideology into the late Edo Period, as seen in Fukuzawa Yukichi’s autobiography. He recalls that his father “was a Confucian to the very heart”, while Fukuzawa himself follows the ancient words
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