Social Changes In Feudal Japan

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Traditional feudal Japan spanned over 500 years until the beginning of the Tokugawa period. Throughout this period, there were many changes among the roles of individuals within the society. The end of traditional feudal Japan and the start of the Tokugawa era created a different life for samurai and added to a new, rigid class structure of Tokugawa society.
During the period before the Tokugawa, Japanese social structure was present but did not put a clamp on society. Lords known as daimyo ruled over the land. The name daimyo was give to any lord who controlled land that was home of at least 10,000 koku of rice per year. A koku is the equivalent to about 5 bushels (page 52, 4). Each daimyo had samurai that would live on their land to provide
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Society became heavily influenced by status and class. Class was broken down into four general orders known as shimin. Samurai, peasants, artisans, and merchants was the order from high to low class. The Shogun, who inherited his position, was the real ruler of the times. Though the emperor was a grand position, he had no real authority, just a title. Shogun law described the classes more specifically to include more defined roles. Again, hierarchically, people were classified as daimyo, court nobility, samurai, priests, peasants, townsmen, outcasts, and non-persons who were categorized as prostitutes and beggars(1,355). A unique aspect of this class structure is that peasants are noticeably high on the list and merchants are very low. This is because in this society the peasants were recognized as valuable and necessary for the sustainability of the society. (1, 356)Merchants on the other hand were looked at as greedy people who only took and did not give. They were seen as unproductive takers who took advantage of people. A common Confucian belief gives reason for the strictness of the system as it was an attempt to create a status hierarchy that was based off role importance as well as a fair system of social relations that, when needed to be, were strict. (1, 355) Feudalism during the Tokugawa “represents one of the most conscious attempts in history to freeze society in a rigid hierarchical mold. Every…show more content…
Instead of fighting and doing their natural job, these warriors were forced to explore other occupations such as a bookkeeper or a secretary.(4, 126) During this time of hardship, the samurai came up with ways to glorify their former lives, thus creating Bushido, The Way of the Warrior. Bushido was a code the samurai said they lived by. It is common mistake to believe that the samurai actually went by this code during their warrior days. Most do not know that it was created after the times where samurai had been fighting. The Samurai created Bushido to brighten their image and to cope with their new hardship by making people believe they were these great warriors. In Bushido, it was said that Samurai were to be couragous, polite, honest, sincere, honorable, loyal, and able to demonstrate self control at all times. Loyalty in Bushido was directed to the samurai’s master. The so called samurai loyalty was said to be so high to the point where a samurai would kill himself if their master told them to. This ritual was called seppuku. Through Bushido, it was also said that the samurai were taught to live as if they were already dead. This was so during battle, the samurai would always fight at the maximum level and not fear death. Samurai were also taught to not worry about armor on their back as they would never have their back facing the enemy, meaning they would never retreat. Though some of the Samurai may
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