Japan's isolation as an island nation has been instrumental in its development as a culture.
By 500 bce it was still an undeveloped agrarian (farm based) culture without cities.
Early Japan - overview Hundreds of Clans controlled their own territories. The dominant religion, Shintoism, was polytheistic and animistic.
Early Japan The economy was agriculturally based & had trade contacts to other parts of Asia. The influence of China on many aspects of Japanese culture was significant.
First Emperors By the 400s ce, one clan gained enough power to control much of Japan as emperors. Dynastic cycles began (Taika, Nara, and Heian dynasties).
HEIAN PERIOD “Rarely in human history has so much energy been focused on the pursuit of beauty or has social interaction been so gracious, well-mannered, [and] in accordance with strict codes of polite behavior.”
In the 600s to 900s, Chinese influence increased drastically. Buddhism spread into Japan-becoming a powerful political force.
Loss of Central Authority Powerful families & Buddhist leaders began to challenge the central government Regional rulers with their own armies gained power.
Loss of Central Authority Mini-states, or shogunates, took the place of the central government.
Japanese Feudal Period From the 1000s to the 1500s, Japan was in the “Era of Warrior Dominance” or its feudal period. Though there was an emperor, real power was with the shoguns and their samurai armies.