By Donald Keene
Whilst Emperor Meiji all started his rule, in 1867, Japan was once a splintered empire, ruled by means of the shogun and the daimyos, who governed over the country's greater than 250 decentralized domain names and who have been, typically, bring to an end from the skin international, staunchly antiforeign, and dedicated to the traditions of the previous. sooner than lengthy, the shogun surrendered to the emperor, a brand new structure used to be followed, and Japan emerged as a contemporary, industrialized state.
Despite the size of his reign, little has been written concerning the unusually obscured determine of Meiji himself, the 1st emperor ever to fulfill a eu. such a lot historians speak about the interval that takes his identify whereas slightly declaring the fellow, assuming that he had no genuine involvement in political beliefs. Even jap who think Meiji to were their nation's maximum ruler could have difficulty recalling a unmarried own accomplishment that will account for the sort of excellent attractiveness. well known Japan pupil Donald Keene sifts the on hand proof to offer a wealthy portrait not just of Meiji but additionally of quick and infrequently violent swap in this pivotal interval in Japan's history.
In this shiny and engrossing biography, we stream with the emperor via his early, conventional schooling; take part the formal processions that familiar the younger emperor along with his nation and its humans; discover his habit in court docket, his marriage, and his relationships with a variety of consorts; and persist with his maturation right into a "Confucian" sovereign devoted to simplicity, frugality, and tough paintings. Later, in the course of Japan's wars with China and Russia, we witness Meiji's fight to reconcile his own dedication to peace and his nation's more and more militarized event of modernization. Emperor of Japan conveys in gleaming prose the complexity of the guy and provides an unequalled portrait of Japan in a interval of particular curiosity.
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Additional info for Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912
It is generally accepted that Confucian ideas came to Japan early in the fifth century. It is a philosophy of moral behaviour and social stability, and would have found fertile soil in a society that already had a well-established hierarchical social order (it remained most powerful among the elites, however, until the advent of feudalism). It rarely came into conflict with Japanese Buddhism. Confucianism focuses on the duties of care, obedience and respect in relationships between ruler and subject, father and son, husband and wife and so on, where the former must take proper care of the latter in return for obedience.
The conflict also meant that the imperial court came to be very closely watched and regulated by the bakufu. Overall the next half century was a relatively peaceful one, 51 A Shor t His tor y of Japan Image Not Available Dai Butsu, Kamakura. − jo − regents in spite of ongoing intrigues among the elites. The Ho continued to rule well. A notable development was the first legal code of 1232 (the Joei Code), which set out practical rules for the behaviour of vassals, as well as regulations governing such things as land tenure and punishments for various crimes.
One may speculate on the reason for his advocacy; perhaps it was respect for China and a desire to appear ‘civilised’, admiration of the structure of Buddhism (as opposed to the 29 A Shor t His tor y of Japan Image Not Available Cherry blossoms, − en, Shinjuku Gyo Tokyo. − ), or philosophical apprerelatively primitive structure of Shinto ciation. Buddhism was certainly supported by a number of subsequent emperors, underscoring the point that major social changes in Japan usually occurred from the top down rather than as grassroots movements.