Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

Early cord-marked pattern style of pottery era

Early Japan found itself its first primary
culture in the Jomon or the cord-marked pattern style of pottery era in 13000
BC to 300BC recognized as the Ainu people of Jomon. The Ainu people took
residency in Hokkaido, Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. They were people who
lived off the land, mostly known for their gathering and hunting skills. As this
period of time was concluded the Yayoi period became its next substantial change
bringing in new inventions. In the website, Encyclopedia,

“Irrigation
techniques were developed during this time for the rice paddies and other crop
fields. With the introduction of farming, the diet and lifestyle of
the Yayoi people drastically changed since they were now permanently settled
and most of their food – rice, millet, beans, and gourds – was grown
locally, with any hunting and gathering that occurred acting more as a
supplement. Communal granaries and wells to store food and
acquire water were constructed near rice paddies. Due to the agricultural
revolution, the population grew steadily during this period, reaching its peak
at around 2,000,000.”

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Again, claimed by the
website, Encyclopedia,

 In the Yayoi Period,
however, trade flourished with cities holding precious resources and
trading centers becoming the largest settlements. The largest Yayoi settlement
found was a trading center named Asahi, in modern-day Aichi Prefecture, which
covered 200 acres (c. 0.8 km²).

With
this people were able to trade within the cities. Furthermore, in this era,
designing pottery was another creation the Yayoi people put time into. Not only
were they people of agriculture, but they were also people of fine art. The
Yayoi people were capable of creating iron and metals for weapons that
contributed to the military society. By the time the Nara period had
approached, Japan had already found a sense of agriculture and sense of place. In
the website, Wa-Encycopedia, “The Empress Gemmei established the capital at
Nara, also known as Heijo kyo, where it remained the capital of Japanese
civilization until the Emperor Kammu established the new capital at Nagaoka
(and, only a decade later, Heian, or Kyoto).” During this particular era Japan established
its first capital. It was also the beginning of temple establishments and
according to the acclaimed website, Wikipedia,
“Another major cultural development of the era was the
permanent establishment of Buddhism.
Buddhism was introduced by Baekje in the sixth century but had a
mixed reception until the Nara period, when it was heartily embraced by Emperor Sh?mu. Sh?mu and his Fujiwara consort were
fervent Buddhists and actively promoted the spread of Buddhism, making it the
“guardian of the state” and a way of strengthening Japanese
institutions.”

The next big era that helped
base what Japan was made of was the Heian Period. According to the website, Metropolitan Museum of Art,

One of the
most influential groups of the Heian era was the aristocratic Fujiwara family.
The Fujiwaras succeeded in dominating the royal family by marrying female clan
members to emperors and then ruling on behalf of the offspring of these unions
when they assumed the throne. Not only did the powerful aristocratic Fujiwaras
control the politics of this era, but they also dominated the cultural milieu.
Fujiwara courtiers encouraged an aura of courtly sophistication and sensitivity
in all of their activities, including the visual and
literary arts, and even religious practice. This refined sensibility and
interest in the arts is clearly expressed in the literary classic The
Tale of Genji, written by a member of the Fujiwara clan.

From here literature in Japan
became very popular. Although they are well known for their food and scenery
Japan is known to have produced high quality literature. One of the first
famous literature novels that was published during the Heian era was The Tale of Genji, written by Murasaki
Shikibu who was an aristocratic lady. She descended from the Fujiwara family
where she was noted to be one of the brilliant youths out of her family. The
death of her husband was the start of her great novel. According to the book, Japanese Viewpoints, “To some Japanese, Genji has not seemed not only a literary masterpiece but an expression
of the soul of their civilization.” Genji was a well thought out novel, but in
the book, Japanese Viewpoints, it
writes, “Genji shows us the world created by the Heian builders of
civilization. It’s unusual world in which the people are concerned in almost all
their waking moments with cultivating beauty in people, things and scenes;
creating or evoking beauty in song, painting, and poetry.” It was written in a
form that was not very natural to most Japanese male authors. From the website,
Britannica, “What
made Lady Murasaki’s work different is this: although it is prose, it is
clearly informed by a comprehensive knowledge of Chinese and Japanese poetry;
it is a graceful work of imaginative fiction, not a personal account of life at
court; it incorporates some 800 waka, courtly poems purported to be the writing
of the main character; and its supple narrative sustains the story through 54
chapters of one character and his legacy.” The
storyline of this piece of literature is based off of the life of Hikaru Genji,
a prince with complications with his father.  

 

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