Feudal Powers in Japan

Describe the early history and culture of Japan, life in the Heian court, and the rise of feudalism in Japan.

Feudalism in Japan

The period of feudalism in Japan began around the 12th Century and lasted until the 19th century, in which this feudal period was also further subdivided into different reigns: the Kamakura Period, Muromachi Period, Azuchi-Momoyama period, and the Edo Period. Feudalism in Japan began as large landowners and warlords started to obtain more lands from other smaller landowners, which eventually gave them more power over the imperial authority and causing the lords to act like local rulers, thus giving rise to feudalism. Samurais were also important in this period, as they formed the majority of the armies of these local rulers, and they were also higher than most common people in the social class.

During this feudal period, power in Japan was mostly dominated by the powerful regional families known as daimyo, and the military rulers known as shogun. The title of Emperor still remained, however, the emperor didn’t have much power over authority and was mostly seen as a symbol of monarchy or “figurehead.”


One of the earliest religions that existed in Japan was known as Shinto, which means “way of the gods.” This religion is based on the respect for the forces of nature and also on the worship of ancestors. Shinto has the principle of giving more importance to actions and rituals rather than just words, and it is characterized by the worship of nature, ancestors, polytheism, animism, and also celebrating and believing in the existence of Kami, divine spirits the dwell in nature.
This is the Shinto Symbol

A Shinto Shrine

Japanese culture has changed over the course of years. The culture passed from its original Jōmon culture to a modern culture, which combines influences from Asia, Europe and North America. Crafts, performance, traditions and cuisine are part the traditional Japanese arts. Manga comes from the fusion of printing and Western art. Japanese music borrowed instruments, scales and styles from neighboring cultures. History books the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki and the eighth century poetry book Man'yōshū, written in Chinese characters are the earliest works of Japanese literature. Literature became the field of ordinary and common people during the Edo period.

Heian Period

The Heian period runs from 794 to 1185, it is the division of the Japanese classical history. This period is named after Heian-kyō, the capital city. During this period Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism were at their highest point. Also this period was considered the top of the Japanese imperial court and was widely known for its art.

It was one of the most amazing periods in Japanese history. During this period the Japanese culture flourished, also peace and security ruled over the land. Heian Japan along with Nara Japan is called "Classical" Japan. Japanese court began to develop an independent culture of the Chinese. First they developed their own writing system. Then, they develop a culture with different values and concepts uniquely from Japan. The Tenno or "Divine Emperor" was the head of the hierarchy. The Emperor was both Confucian and Shinto. He ruled by the Mandate of Heaven and by the descent from Shinto Sun Goddess. The Japanese history remain unbroken from the late Yamato period because of this. In the Nara period and the Heian period, regional chiefs were replaced by court-appointed governors of the provinces.Buddhism also developed greatly during the Heian Period. Private families began to gain large amounts of lands and to support armies.

Japanese Culture
The culture of Japan has changed a lot. Today, Japan has combine influences from Asia, Europe and North America.

Japanese language
The Japanese language is a significant role in its culture. The language is spoken in Japan but also in some communities around the world. Japanese is written with a combination from China .

Calligraphy is often too hard for Western people. But in East Asian countries, it’s normal since its text comes from written information. The written work can consist of phrases, poems, stories, or even single characters.


Samurais were Japan's version of our soldier. They were part of Japan's warrior class and extremely skilled at fighting. They followed a code of behaviour called Bushido. Bushido is very demanding. It required samurais to show reckless courage, reverance for the gods, fairness, and generosity towards those weaker than himself. Dying an honourable death was valued more important than living a long life. A samurai's attire protected them well, but also frightend the enemy as well.



It has been said that the first people to go to Japan arrived around 8000 B.C. These hunter-gathers probably lived in temporary huts, as well as in caves and ravines. After a while, the people of Japan lived off of the land, hunted, farmed, and developed a unique cultures and religious beliefs within their small clans or tribes.

According to the web page Kids past, around 200 B.C. invaders from the Asian mainland entered Japan. Using their superior technology and weapons, these new comers were easily able to defeat and conquer the peoples of these islands.
These migrants over a period of many generations helped raise their standard of living, teaching them new methods for farming, and new technologies, including the use of both Bronze and Iron.

Around A.D. 250 another wave of invaders entered Japan from the Asian mainland. These invaders had mastered the use of horses in battle, and their warriors were again able to quickly conquer the islanders.


Cultural Facts:

  1. Kokeshi dolls are very cute traditional wooden dolls, beautifully painted in Japan.
  2. The Japanese celebrate Children's Day on 5th May with various colourful traditions and fun.
  3. Maneki Neko is a common Japanese ceramic figure which is thought to bring good luck.
  4. Sumo Wrestling is very popular in Japan. Two people wrestle in a ring but, because it is a very ancient sport, there is lots of ceremony and rituals involved as well.

Kokeshi Dolls


Sumo (PS: i thought this was hilarious)

Heian Period

Heian period, Japan was the high point of Japanese aristocratic culture, a golden age of peace and harmony. Upper class women, as well as men, were expected to become experts in music, writing, and the art of dressing well, including what colors to wear when and the proper drape of a sleeve. A person who was learned and who knew how to write good poetry was highly regarded. Poetry was often used as a go-between among men and women.

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