East Asia Civilization

Identifications

Footbinding is a custom of biding little girls’ feet with the purpose of preventing their growth. The custom became popular in China during the period of the Southern Tang kingdom. Having short feet became very popular among the representatives of the Chinese elite after the great success that the court dancing girls had acquired due to their beautiful tiny shoes. Later, the custom became spread among all the social layers in China. It entered the houses of common Chinese families so steadily that the majority of girls continued to bind their feet until the second half of the XX century.

Shinto is an indigenous Japanese system of beliefs that was developed in the 8th century CE. Initially, Shinto did not have religious implications; rather, it was a synthesis of mythology, folklore, and history. However, later it developed into a complex of religious traditions, ceremonies, and rites. Today, Shinto is applied to shrines outfitted for the most varied purposes (Tamazaki 105). Among these purposes are historical monuments, memorials, and, even, harvest festivals.

Silla dynasty was the longest sustained dynasty in the world exercising its authority over the three Korean kingdoms including Koguryŏ, Silla, and Paekche. It ruled during the period from 57 BC to 935 CE. King Park Hyeokgeose became the founder of this dynasty. Silla dynasty was the first political power in recorded history that managed to unite the territories of the entire Korean peninsula in one state. Silla dynasty gave birth to the traditional Korean culture.

The Grand Canal of China is the longest artificially made canal existing in the world. It joints such important Chinese cities as Beijing, Tianjin, and Hangzhou. The total length of the Grand Canal is 1,776 kilometers. The construction of this canal began in the V century BC and was finished during the Sui Dynasty, approximately in 600 BC. The fame of this incredible engineer facility was widely spread even in the ancient world.

Hiragana is a part of a writing system in Japan. Initially, hiragana was mainly used by women. It was even called by the word ‘onnade’, translated from Japanese as ‘a woman’s hand’. However, by the X century, this system became a system of general usage. In 1946, hiragana was officially named the main writing system in Japan. That was a result of its simplification, and omitting extra signs from it.

King Sejong was a famous Korean king from the dynasty of Joseon that ruled from 1397 to 1450 (“Korea” 2). The king was named ‘great’ on the reason of his significant achievements. He managed to reform Korean legislative system, and initiated the era of educational, scientific, and technological progress in Korea. Establishing the system of Korean writing called han’gul was listed among his most important attainments. The king was a faithful follower of Confucianism that inspired him for incredible accomplishments in many areas (Tu 15). During his rule, the Korean Kingdom of Chosŏn was the most successful of all Korean states that existed before.

War, Trade, and Cultural Diffusion in China and Korea

Korea and its Traditions. The impact of Korea’s location between China and Japan on its political, economic, religions, and/or cultural development’

The Korean peninsula extends southward from the mainland, between Japan and China. The location of Korean territories has been an important factor for defense, isolating the population and protecting them from all but the most determined invaders. Among such invaders were Japanese and Chinese people, whose regular efforts to capture attractive lands of Korea have left their trace on its political, economic, religious, and cultural development.

Each invasion disrupted Korea’s harmonious relations with its neighbors, and opened a new chapter in Korean history, reminding the people of their vulnerability within the region. Though such encounters were destructive and painful, they helped shape Korean civilization by teaching Koreans to depend on themselves. Korea’s position between Japan and China caused interplay between its geography and politics, and shaped its geopolitics on this reason.

Addressing the impact that China had on Korean kingdoms, it should be stated that it is the most significant even compared to the impact by Japan. Beginning from the period of three kingdoms that is also called Proto, China’s influence in Korean culture, religion, politics and economics was more than evident. China became the model for the three Koreans kingdoms to follow. Their governors copied Chinese economical and political strategies. The official religion of China, Buddhism, was also the religion of Korean kingdoms. Buddhism, in turn, affected Korean art including its architecture, sculpture, ceramics, tomb painting, and music. It also influenced Korean educational programs. Korean people studied Buddhist sutras and the other literature of Buddhism as their main textbooks. During the period of Chosŏn Kingdom, the expansion of Chinese culture in Korea became the most significant. Korean writers tended to imitate the Chinese writing system; moreover, they imitated the main concepts of wring including the themes, genres, and stylistic peculiarities. Similar influence was established in painting and music. The middle century’s period was a triumph of Chinese philosophic landscapes inspired by the ideas of Confucian thinkers. The situation was also very similar with the Chinese music as the Korean court musicians played it for their Emperor as well, and, thus, popularized it in among the common people of the land. The impact of Chinese culture and politics on Korea continued to be considerable until the foundation of Korean Empire in 1897. Beginning from this year, Korea rejected its connections with China, and established a new politics aiming to enforce its connections with Japan. The end of the nineteenth century and the later period became the era of Japan in Korea.

Speaking about the impact that Japan had on Korean development, it is important to notice that its significance has been considerable. Especially, the Southern Korean lands were greatly influenced by Japanese culture, religious beliefs, economical and political strategies. This impact can be well traced beginning from the Yamato culture in Japan. Researching Korean architecture and art, one may easily notice Japanese influence. Japanese religious concepts are closely shown in Korean paintings, objects of ceramics and the other objects of household, and Korean temples. Japanese impact on Korean territories received its culmination in 1905 when Japan captured Korean territories and established its rule there (Anderson 183). After the Yalta conference dedicated to the post-war world division, Japanese rule over Korean territories was annulled. However, the impact of Japanese power in Korea became crucially important for the development of South Korea. Following Japanese traditions, in a few decades, South Korea managed to become one of the most developed economically countries, and not only in the Asian region, but all over the world as well.

Even nowadays, ancient tendencies are evident when the impact of China and Japan on Korean states is analyzed. Just as in the earliest times, the northern lands of Korea are impacted by China, and the southern ones are affected by Japan. The outcomes of such division are remarkable as the southern lands in Korea are traditionally better developed than the northern ones. Today, the South Korea is one of the most successful countries in the world with its powerful economy and considerable system of political connections assisting its economical growth. South Korea is even able to compete with its ideological inspirator, Japan. In a number of economical fields such as the car industry, the production of household appliances, telecommunications, and computer technologies, Korean enterprises are victorious over their Japanese competitors due to their cheaper prices and the equal level of quality. In addition, the other interesting point is that South Koreans even managed to defeat Japanese in their workaholism. Although, Japan is considered to be the source of the culture of work addiction, Korean people are more subjected to it. In political life, the balance of Chinese and Japanese impact on Korea is absolutely similar to this balance in the field of economy. North Korea tends to have the same aggressive politics as China even being more aggressive than its ‘teacher’, whereas South Korea is a peaceful state that rests on its economical ideals and ambitions, rather than on political ones.

Edo Japan

Peace and Stability under the Tokugawa. The Policies Adopted by the Tokugawa Shoguns to Create Political Order and Social Stability.

In the course of Japanese history, there were five great administrations that stranded above the rest due to their incredible achievements. Among them is the administration of the Tokugawa. The period of Tokugawa or the period of Edo is one of the most stabile and peaceful periods in Japanese history. During 250 years, beginning from 1603, and ending in 1867, Japanese people were able to see the triumph of law and good order on its territory (Anderson 190). The period of Tokugawa is also called the period of Edo Japan because the capital of the country was titled Edo during those days. The first Tokugawa ruler was Tokugawa Ieyasu. The Tokugawa family instituted the system of shogunate or the special system of rule in the country. The Tokugawa regime was built on the ideas of centralized feudalism and the isolation of Japan from the other countries in the region. The representatives of Tokugawa family themselves owned one fourth part of Japan in strategically located parcels. These parcels were governed directly through establishments of feudal bureaucracy. The government established by the Tokugawa family was called the Edo bakufu. The Edo bakufu managed to successfully attain its ambitious goals in reformatting the country in the number of important areas. According to “Tokugawa” (1), the main achievements of this regime were the following: “improved farming methods and the growing of cash crops stimulated agricultural productivity; Osaka and Edo became centers of expanded interregional trade; urban life became more sophisticated; and literacy spread to almost half of the male population”.

The life of the Japanese people during the Tokugawa period was peaceful, but it was heavily influenced by the control of the government. The political system during those days was autocratic. The Tokugawa shoguns created a strict system of organizations that controlled each step of the people. Even the rules of etiquette and clothing in public places were created.

The Tokugawa rulers created the system of four classes. The main peculiarity of this system was having strict rules for the representatives of different social classes that controlled the distribution and the use of luxurious amenities in the Japanese society. The four classes of the Tokugawa system were the samurai or the highest layer in the society which also included shoguns themselves, the peasant farmers, the merchants, and the artisans. The most abundant class was the class of the peasant farmers that comprised 82 % of the Japanese society. Farmers were so abundant because during those days Japan was an agrarian country.

To regulate the relationships between the four social layers, the Tokugawa government created a new system of laws that received the general title of the Tokugawa code of laws. This code of laws regulated such important areas as family affairs including marriage and giving birth, private conduct, religious matters, military filed, transportation and logistics, and political relationships with the other countries. The Tokugawa policies also established a new system of bureaucracy. All the relationships between the representatives of the new Japanese society were subjected to the strict documentation. For example, the legal procedures of any type demanded documentation written in a proper form established by the government.

The Tokugawa government produced a new taxation codex aiming to exercise a firm control over all the financial assets existing in the country. To fulfill the demands of this codex, every six years, a complete national enumeration was held in order to check the specific amount of citizens owing tax collections to the government. Each year, every citizen of the country was personally informed about the sum of an annual collection into the state treasury, and had to confirm by his or her signature and the seal of the village that the document was received. Those who rejected to pay or decided to deceive the government in some way were punished with all strictness.

The other important policies were issued by the Tokugawa shoguns in the later period of their rule. This was the new policies regulating economical relations. The former policies developed by the samurai administration became outdated and led to significant economical problems in society. To improve the complicated situation, the government conducted the currency reform. The rice system was replaced by a hard money system. With such a change, the taxation system had to undergo the changes in it as the new reform obliged the citizens to pay their taxes in a monetary form. This reform established a new balance in the country’s financial system, and boosted the growth of economy including such sectors as trade, logistics, and the newly-initiated sector of the production of industrial goods.

The Japanese law enforcement system was also reformed during the domination of Tokugawa shogun family. Local tribunals were subordinated to a central tribunal in Edo, the capital of the country. Legal stipulations were mostly penal norms and the civil ones were identical with financial stipulations. By judicial sentences many French laws were introduced in Japanese law system. The law enforcement system was also greatly affected by the other European winnowing including the ideas of Christianity and the Enlightenment.

Works Cited

Anderson, James A. “A History Of East Asia: From The Origins Of Civilization To The Twenty-First Century.” China Review International 18.2 (2011): 150-194. Print.

“Korea.” Columbia Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (2011): 1-18. Print.

Tamazaki, Masakazu. “Asia, A Civilization In The Making.” Foreign Affairs 75.4 (1996): 106-152. Print.

“Tokugawa.” Columbia Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (2011): 1-12. Print.

Tu., Weiming. “Implications Of The Rise Of “Confucian” East Asia.” Chinese American Forum 16.3 (2001): 13-17. Print.