Essay on Later Japan

Submitted By sovereign19
Words: 691
Pages: 3

There are three major periods in the Later Japan era; Muromachi, Momoyama, and Edo. Muromachi is the first period, in which the Ashikaga family gained control in 1338. In 1392 they reunited Northern and Southern Japan and retained their grasp for one hundred fifty years. Because local warlords, called daimyo, retained a large degree of power, they were able to strongly influence political events and cultural trends during this time. Rivalry between daimyo, whose power increased in relation to the central government as time passed, caused instability, and conflict soon erupted, resulting in the Onin War. Despite the social and political upheaval, the Muromachi period was economically and artistically innovative. This epoch saw the first steps in the establishment of modern commercial, transportation, and urban developments. Contact with China, which had been resumed in the Kamakura period, once again enriched and transformed Japanese thought. One of the imports that was to have a great impact was Zen Buddhism. Although known in Japan since the seventh century, Zen was enthusiastically embraced by the military class beginning in the thirteenth century and went on to have a profound effect on all aspects of national life, from government and commerce to the arts and education. The next period is the Momoyama period. This period brought about turmoil. It was during this time when the Ashikaga family lost their power. The one flaw in their systym was that the samurai were primarily loyal to their own lord (Daimyo); rather than central government. They took control for four whole years until unity was restored through the efforts of three warlords. The first, Oda Nobunaga, took control of Kyoto and deposed the last Ashikaga shogun through military might and political acuity. He was followed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who continued the campaign to reunite Japan. Peace was finally restored by one of Hideyoshi's generals, Tokugawa Ieyasu. The decorative style that is the hallmark of Momoyama art had its beginning in the early sixteenth century and lasted well into the seventeenth. On one hand, the art of this period was characterized by a robust, opulent, and dynamic style, with gold lavishly applied to architecture, furnishings, paintings, and garments. The flamboyantly decorated fortresses built by the daimyo for protection and to flaunt their newly acquired power exemplified this greatness. On the other hand, the military elite also supported a counter-aesthetic of rural simplicity, most fully expressed in the form of the tea ceremony that favored weathered, natural, and imperfect settings and utensils. The next period was the Edo period. During this era, creativity came from the artisans and merchants. Although normally put down, they were free to…