Japan, Past and Present

Japan, Past and Present

When I think of Japan and its people, I think of geishas, elaborate festivals, and its age old customs. What I’ve come to learn about Japan is that it’s a combination of old tradition but very modern advances. Japan is a modern country that has moved towards democracy and is today one of the strongest economies in the world. And though history plays a major role in Japanese culture, it has truly evolved into a country that keeps up with an ever changing world.

Throughout Japan’s history its people have been impacted by its form of government which for centuries was a monarchy of emperors. Tokugawa leyasu was the most powerful man in Japan after he defeated Hideyori loyalists in 1600 giving him almost unlimited power and wealth. Leyasu was appointed shogun (title for chief military leaders) by the emperor and established his government in Edo, Tokyo. Known as the Edo period, Leyasu ran the country under tight control and gained much land among the daimyo (vassals of the shogun). He continued to promote foreign trade and established relations with the English and Dutch. Under the control of Leyasu peace prevailed in Japan. In 1633, Shogun Lemitsu forbid travelling abroad and completely isolated Japan and reduced contact with the outside world. Despite the isolation, domestic trade and agriculture production grew. During the Genroku Era popular culture flourished as well. In Japan the most important philosophy was Neo-Confucianism which stressed the importance of morals, education, and the hierarchy system in government and society. In 1720, western influences began to show up in Japan in the form of new schools and literature. Things took a turn for the worst when the stability of Japan’s government ...

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... festival is held on November 15th or the closest weekend. The children are given a long thin candy called Chitose-ame which means thousand –year candy to signify many years of life.

My personal experience with the Japanese culture was my interaction with a Japanese exchange student that lived with us for two weeks. Her name was Mai and she lived in a suburb near Tokyo, Japan. Mai came from a wealthy and highly educated family. She spoke very little English, but we communicated in a teenage girl-to-girl way! She really enjoyed shopping, the large natural areas, ours pets, and driving in our car. She didn’t care for some of our food like root beer and dill pickles, but she loved the hamburgers. She taught me some songs, dances, and origami paper folding. Even with different cultures and languages, we really learned that we were a lot alike…typical teenagers.

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