The Asuka period was a period in the history of Japan lasting from 538 to 710, although its beginning could be said to overlap with the preceding Kofun period. The Yamato polity evolved during the Asuka period, named after the Asuka region, about 25 km south of the modern city of Nara; the Asuka period is characterized by its significant artistic and political transformations, having their origins in the late Kofun period but affected by the arrival of Buddhism from China. The introduction of Buddhism marked a change in Japanese society; the Asuka period is distinguished by the change in the name of the country from Wa to Nihon. The term "Asuka period" was first used to describe a period in the history of Japanese fine-arts and architecture, it was proposed by fine-arts scholars Sekino Tadasu and Okakura Kakuzō around 1900. Sekino dated the Asuka period as ending with the Taika Reform of 646. Okakura, saw it as ending with the transfer of the capital to the Heijō Palace of Nara. Although historians use Okakura's dating, many historians of art and architecture prefer Sekino's dating and use the term "Hakuhō period" to refer to the successive period.
The Yamato polity was distinguished by powerful great clans or extended families, including their dependents. Each clan was headed by a patriarch who performed sacred rites for the clan's kami to ensure the long-term welfare of the clan. Clan members were the High Nobility, the Imperial line that controlled the Yamato polity was at its pinnacle; the Asuka period, as a sub-division of the Yamato period, is the first time in Japanese history when the Emperor of Japan ruled uncontested from modern-day Nara Prefecture known as Yamato Province. The Yamato polity was concentrated in the Asuka region and exercised power over clans in Kyūshū and Honshū, bestowing titles, some hereditary, on clan chieftains; the Yamato name became synonymous with all of Japan as the Yamato rulers suppressed other clans and acquired agricultural lands. Based on Chinese models, they developed a central administration and an imperial court attended by subordinate clan chieftains but with no permanent capital. By the mid-seventh century, the agricultural lands had grown to a substantial public domain, subject to central policy.
The basic administrative unit of the Gokishichidō system was the county, society was organized into occupation groups. Most people were farmers; the Soga clan intermarried with the imperial family, by 587 Soga no Umako, the Soga chieftain, was powerful enough to install his nephew as emperor and to assassinate him and replace him with the Empress Suiko. Suiko, the first of eight sovereign empresses, is sometimes considered a mere figurehead for Umako and Prince Regent Shōtoku Taishi; however she wielded power in her own right, the role of Shōtoku Taishi is exaggerated to the point of legend. Shōtoku, recognized as a great intellectual of this period of reform, was a devout Buddhist and was well-read in Chinese literature, he was influenced by Confucian principles, including the Mandate of Heaven, which suggested that the sovereign ruled at the will of a supreme force. Under Shōtoku's direction, Confucian models of rank and etiquette were adopted, his Seventeen-article constitution prescribed ways to bring harmony to a chaotic society in Confucian terms.
In addition, Shōtoku adopted the Chinese calendar, developed a system of trade roads, built numerous Buddhist temples, had court chronicles compiled, sent students to China to study Buddhism and Confucianism, sent Ono no Imoko to China as an emissary. Six official missions of envoys and students were sent to China in the seventh century; some remained twenty years or more. The sending of such scholars to learn Chinese political systems showed significant change from envoys in the Kofun period, in which the five kings of Wa sent envoys for the approval of their domains. In a move resented by the Chinese, Shōtoku sought equality with the Chinese emperor by sending official correspondence, addressed, "From the Son of Heaven in the Land of the Rising Sun to the Son of Heaven of the Land of the Setting Sun." Some would argue that Shōtoku's bold step set a precedent: Japan never again accepted a "subordinate" status in its relations with China, except for Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, who accepted such a relationship with China in the 15th century.
As a result, Japan in this period received no title from Chinese dynasties, while they did send tribute. From the Chinese point of view, the class or position of Japan was demoted from previous centuries in which the kings received titles. On the other hand, Japan loosened its political relationships with China and established extraordinary cultural and intellectual relationships. About twenty years after the deaths of Shōtoku Taishi, Soga no Umako, Empress Suiko, court intrigues over succession led to a palace coup in 645 against the Soga clan's monopolized control of the government; the revolt was led by Prince Naka no Ōe and Nakatomi no Kamatari, who seized control of the court from the Soga family and introduced the Taika Reform. The Japanese era corresponding to the years 645–649 was thus named Taika, referring to the Reform, meaning "great change"; the revolt leading to the Taika Reform is called the Isshi Incident, referring to the Chinese zodiac year in which the coup took place
Empress Shōken known as Empress Dowager Shōken, was the wife of Emperor Meiji of Japan. Born Masako Ichijō, Shōken was the third daughter of Tadaka Ichijō, former Minister of the Left and head of the Ichijō branch of the Fujiwara clan, her official mother was a daughter of Prince Fushimi Kuniie, while the biological mother was Tamiko Shinbata, daughter of the doctor of Ichijo family. As a child, Princess Masako was somewhat of a prodigy. By age seven, she was able to read some texts in classical Chinese, with some assistance, was studying Japanese calligraphy. By age twelve, she was fond of Noh drama, she had studied ikebana and the Japanese tea ceremony. Usual for the time, she had been vaccinated against smallpox; the major obstacle to her eligibility was that she was three years older than Emperor Meiji, but this issue was resolved by changing her official birth date from 1849 to 1850. She became engaged to Emperor Meiji on 2 September 1867 and she adopted the given name Haruko, intended to reflect her diminutive size and serene beauty.
The Tokugawa Bakufu promised 15,000 ryō in gold for the wedding, assigned her an annual income of 500 koku, but as the Meiji Restoration occurred before the wedding could be completed, the promised amounts were never delivered. The wedding was delayed due to periods of mourning for Emperor Kōmei, for her brother Ichijō Saneyoshi, due to political disturbances around Kyoto in 1867 and 1868; the wedding was officially celebrated on 11 January 1869. She was the first imperial consort to receive the title of both nyōgō and of kōgō, in several hundred years. Although she was the first Japanese empress consort to play a public role, it soon became clear that Empress Haruko was unable to bear children. Emperor Meiji had fifteen children by five official ladies-in-waiting; as it had long been the custom in Japanese monarchy, she adopted Yoshihito, her husband's eldest son by a concubine. Yoshihito thus became the official heir to the throne, at Emperor Meiji's death, succeeded him as Emperor Taishō; the Empress departed from Kyoto on 8 November 1869 for the new capital of Tokyo.
In a break from tradition, Emperor Meiji insisted that she, as well as the senior ladies-in-waiting, attend the educational lectures given to the Emperor on a regular basis about conditions in Japan, as well as developments in overseas nations. On 30 July 1886, the Empress attended the graduation ceremony of the Peeresses School in Western clothing, on 10 August, she received foreign guests in Western clothing for the first time when hosting a Western Music concert with the Emperor. From this point onward, the Empress and her entourage wore only Western style clothes in public and in January 1887 she issued a memorandum on the subject, contending that traditional Japanese dress was not only unsuited to modern life, but that in fact, Western style dress was closer than the kimono to clothes worn by Japanese women in ancient times. In the diplomatic field, the Empress hosted the wife of former US President Ulysses S. Grant during his visit to Japan, was present for the Emperor's meetings with Hawaiian King Kalākaua in 1881.
That same year, she helped host the visit of the sons of future British King Edward VII, Prince Albert Victor and Prince George, who presented her with a pair of pet wallabies from Australia. The Empress accompanied her husband to Yokosuka, Kanagawa on 26 November 1886 to observe the new Imperial Japanese Navy cruisers Naniwa and Takachiho firing torpedoes and performing other maneuvers. From 1887, she was at the Emperor's side, in his official visits to schools and Army maneuvers; when Emperor Meiji fell ill in 1888, she took his place in welcoming envoys from Siam, launching warships and visiting Tokyo Imperial University. In 1889, she accompanied Emperor Meiji on his official visit to Kyoto. While the Emperor continued on to visit naval bases at Kure and Sasebo, she went to Nara, to worship at the principal Shinto shrines. Known throughout her reign for her support of charity work, of women's education, during the First Sino-Japanese War, the Empress worked for the establishment of the Japanese Red Cross Society.
Concerned about Red Cross activities in peacetime, she created a fund for the International Red Cross, named "The Empress Shōken Fund". It is presently used for international welfare activities. During the war, after the Emperor moved his military headquarters from Tokyo to Hiroshima to be closer to the lines of communications with his troops, the Empress, traveling together with his two favorite concubines, joined him in Hiroshima from March 1895. While in Hiroshima, she insisted on visiting hospitals where wounded soldiers were recovering every other day during her stay. On the death of Emperor Meiji in 1912, she was granted the title Empress Dowager by Emperor Taishō, she died in 1914 at the Imperial Villa in Numazu and was buried in the East Mound of the Fushimi Momoyama Ryo in Fushimi, next to Emperor Meiji. Her soul was enshrined in Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. On 9 May 1914, she received the posthumous name Shōken Kōtaigō; the railway-carriage of the empress, as well as that of Emperor Meiji, can be seen today in the Meiji Mura Museum, in Inuyama, Aichi prefecture.
9 May 1849 – 11 January 1869: Lady Masako Ichijō 11 January 1869 – 30 July 1912: Her Imperial Majesty The Empress 30 July 1912 – 9 April 1914: Her Imperial Majesty The Empress Dowager
Nara National Museum
The Nara National Museum is one of the pre-eminent national art museums in Japan. The Nara National Museum is located in Nara, the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. Katayama Tōkuma designed the original building, a representative Western-style building of the Meiji period and has been designated an Important Cultural Property in Japan. Junzō Yoshimura designed a supplemental building in 1973; the museum is noted for its collection of Buddhist art, including images and altar articles. The museum houses and displays works of art belonging to shrines in the Nara area. Properties kept in the Shōsōin repository are exhibited each year in the autumn. In the museum's collection is the 12th-century Hell Scroll, 11th or 12th-century mandala Jōdo mandara-zu, the 9th-century sculpture of the seated Buddha Yakushi; the Nara National Museum was established in 1889 as the Imperial Nara Museum. The Nara National Museum held its first exhibition in 1895; as prehistory to the opening, there was a Nara exhibition.
In 1874, Nara exhibition company of semi-governmental management was established by the Nara governor Fujii Chihiro. The Museum was renamed the Imperial Household Museum of Nara, it has been known by its present name since 1952. The growth and development of today's museum has been an evolving process: 1889—Museum is established as the "Imperial Museum of Nara." 1895—First exhibition is opened. 1900—Museum is renamed the "Imperial Household Museum of Nara." 1914—Shōsōin department is established. 1947—Imperial Household Ministry's responsibility for Museum's collections is transferred to the Ministry of Education. 1950—Museum is associated with the Committee for the Preservation of Cultural Properties. 1952—Museum is renamed the "Nara National Museum". 1968—Museum is affiliated with the Agency for Cultural Affairs. 1969—Original Museum Building is designated an "Important Cultural Property". 1972—A new exhibition building is completed. 1980—Buddhist Art Library is opened. 1995—100th anniversary of the Museum's opening is held.
1997—East Wing and the underground corridor are completed. 2000—Conservation Center for preserving cultural properties is completed. 2001—Museum is renamed "Nara National Museum" of the "Independent Administrative Institution National Museum". 2005—IAI National Museum is expanded with addition of Kyushu National Museum. 2007—IAI National Museum is merged into Independent Administrative Institution National Institutes for Cultural Heritage, combining the four national museums with the former National Institutes for Cultural Preservation at Tokyo and Nara The Original Museum Building was designed by Katayama Tōkuma, architect for the Imperial Household Agency. This building was completed in 1894, is built in the French Renaissance style. Noted for the decorative ornamentation around its West Entrance, it is an example of middle Meiji-period European architecture; this exhibition hall was designated an Important Cultural Property by the national government in 1969. Designed by Junzō Yoshimura. Construction of the West wing began on the hall on 18 December 1970 and was completed on 31 March 1972.
The East Wing was inaugurated in October 1997 and opened in April 1998. An architectural style of the East Wing is congruent to the West Wing; the Lower-Level Passageway joins the East and West Wings with the Original Museum Building and houses the Museum Shop and a Lounge & Restaurant. The exhibit cases on both sides the passageway contain models and illustrations explaining the construction of Buddhist sculpture. Visitors do not need museum admission tickets to enter this 150 meter-long corridor; the area serves as a relaxation place for museum visitors and the general public. The Research Center for Buddhist Art was established in April 1980 for the collection and storage of books, rubbings and other archival and research materials related to Buddhist art; the Center’s library and photographic archives have been open to the public since May 1989 as a resource for researchers. The Japanese tea ceremony house " Hassoan " in the inner garden of the Nara National Museum was built on the grounds of Daijo-in, a sub-temple of Kōfuku-ji Temple.
Known as Gansuitei, the tea house was built in the middle Edo period. It is well known for a favorite style of the tea connoisseur Furuta Oribe. Together with the tea houses Rokusoan in the Kōfuku-ji, Okiroku in the Tōdai-ji, Hassoan is considered one of the Three Great Tea Houses of Nara. Hassoan contains a tea room of four tatami mats with a tokonoma, it is built in the rustic style, including a gabled, thatched roof. Inside, the ceiling is covered with rush, while other areas reveal the finished underside of the roof. In order to preserve the tea house in Nara for future generations, Nara residents petitioned for Hassoan to be given to the Imperial Nara Museum in 1890. Hassoan was moved onto the museum grounds in 1892; the Conservation Center, opened in 2002, was established to rescue, document and restore National Treasures and other key cultural properties. Restorers specializing in the conservation of sculptures and ancient texts work out of the institution. Specialists advise the owners and custodians of cultural assets.
List of National Treasures of Japan List of National Treasures of Japan List of National Treasures of Japan List of National Treasures of Japan List of National Treasures of Japan List of National Treasures of Japan
Emperor Kōbun was the 39th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Kōbun's reign lasted only a few months in 671–672. Emperor Kōbun was named the 39th emperor by the Meiji government in 1870. In his lifetime, he was known as Prince Ōtomo, he was the favorite son of Emperor Tenji. Contemporary historians now place the reign of Emperor Kōbun between the reigns of Emperor Tenji and Emperor Tenmu. Prince Ōtomo was only given his posthumous title and name in 1870. Post-Meiji chronology In the 10th year of Tenji, in the 11th month: Emperor Tenji, in the 10th year of his reign, designated his son as his heir. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Kōbun is said to have acceded to the throne. If this understanding were valid it would follow:In the 1st year of Kōbun: Emperor Kōbun, in the 1st year of his reign, died. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Tenmu could be said to have acceded to the throne. Pre-Meiji chronology Prior to the 19th century, Ōtomo was understood to have been a mere interloper, a pretender, an anomaly.
Control of the throne was wrested by Emperor Tenchi's brother, Prince Ōama, during the Jinshin War, after which Emperor Kōbun committed suicide. For centuries, the hapless Prince Ōtomo was not considered to have been a part of the traditional order of succession; the actual site of Kōbun's grave is known. This emperor is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine at Shiga; the Imperial Household Agency designates this location as Kōbun's mausoleum. It is formally named Nagara no Yamasaki no misasagi; the years of Kōbun's reign are not linked by scholars to any era or nengō. The Taika era innovation of naming time periods – nengō – languished until Mommu reasserted an imperial right by proclaiming the commencement of Taihō in 701. See Japanese era name – "Non-nengo periods" See Kōbun. In this context and Ishida's translation of Gukanshō offers an explanation about the years of Empress Jitō's reign which muddies a sense of easy clarity in the pre-Taiho time-frame: "The eras that fell in this reign were: the remaining seven years of Shuchō.
In the third year of the Taka era, Empress Jitō yielded the throne to the Crown Prince." The top court officials during Emperor Kōbun's reign included: Sadaijin, Soga no Akae, 672 Udaijin, Nakatomi no Kane, 672 Empress Consort: Princess Tōchi, Emperor Tenmu’s daughter First son: Prince Kadono Empress: Fujiwara no Mimimotoji, Fujiwara no Kamatari’s daughter Princess Ichishi-hime Emperor Kōbun had another son named Prince Yota, whose mother is unknown. Emperor of Japan List of Emperors of Japan Imperial cult Aston, William George.. Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A. D. 697. London: Kegan Paul, Trubner. OCLC 448337491 Brown, Delmer M. and Ichirō Ishida, eds.. Gukanshō: The Future and the Past. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-03460-0; the Imperial House of Japan. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. OCLC 194887 Titsingh, Isaac.. Nihon Ōdai Ichiran. Paris: Royal Asiatic Society, Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. OCLC 5850691 Varley, H. Paul..
Jinnō Shōtōki: A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-04940-5.
Japanese names in modern times consist of a family name, followed by a given name. More than one given name is not used. Japanese names are written in kanji, which are characters Chinese in origin but Japanese in pronunciation; the kanji for a name may have a variety of possible Japanese pronunciations, hence parents might use hiragana or katakana when giving a birth name to their newborn child. Names written in hiragana or katakana are phonetic renderings, so lack the visual meaning of names expressed in the logographic kanji. Japanese family names are varied: according to estimates, there are over 100,000 different surnames in use today in Japan; the three most common family names in Japan are Satō, Takahashi. This diversity is in stark contrast to the situation in other nations of the East Asian cultural sphere, which reflects a different history: while Chinese surnames have been in use for millennia and were reflective of an entire clan or adopted from nobles and were thence transferred to Korea and Vietnam via noble names, the vast majority of modern Japanese family names date only to the 19th century, following the Meiji restoration, were chosen at will.
The recent introduction of surnames has two additional effects: Japanese names became widespread when the country had a large population instead of dating to ancient times, since little time has passed, Japanese names have not experienced as significant a surname extinction as has occurred in the much longer history in China. Surnames occur with varying frequency in different regions. Many Japanese family names derive from features of the rural landscape. While family names follow consistent rules, given names are much more diverse in pronunciation and character usage. While many common names can be spelled or pronounced, many parents choose names with unusual characters or pronunciations, such names cannot in general be spelled or pronounced unless both the spelling and pronunciation are given. Unusual pronunciations have become common, with this trend having increased since the 1990s. For example, the popular masculine name 大翔 is traditionally pronounced "Hiroto", but in recent years alternative pronunciations "Haruto", "Yamato", "Taiga", "Sora", "Taito", "Daito", "Masato" have all entered use.
Male names end in -rō -ta or -o, or contain ichi, kazu, ji, or dai. Female names end in -ko or -mi. Other popular endings for female names include -ka and -na; the majority of Japanese people have one surname and one given name with no other names, except for the Japanese imperial family, whose members bear no surname. The family name – myōji, uji or sei – precedes the given name, called the "name" – or "lower name"; the given name may be referred to as the "lower name" because, in vertically written Japanese, the given name appears under the family name. People with mixed Japanese and foreign parentage may have middle names. Myōji, uji and sei had different meanings. Sei was the patrilineal surname, why up until now it has only been granted by the emperor as a title of male rank; the lower form of the name sei being tei, a common name in Japanese men, although there was a male ancestor in ancient Japan from whom the name'Sei' came. There were few sei, most of the medieval noble clans trace their lineage either directly to these sei or to the courtiers of these sei.
Uji was another name used to designate patrilineal descent, but merged with myōji around the same time. Myōji was what a family chooses to call itself, as opposed to the sei granted by the emperor. While it was passed on patrilineally in male ancestors including in male ancestors called haku, one had a certain degree of freedom in changing one's myōji. See Kabane. Multiple Japanese characters have the same pronunciations, so several Japanese names have multiple meanings. A particular kanji itself can have multiple meanings and pronunciations. In some names, Japanese characters phonetically "spell" a name and have no intended meaning behind them. Many Japanese personal names use puns. Few names can serve either as surnames or as given names. Therefore, to those familiar with Japanese names, which name is the surname and, the given name is apparent, no matter which order the names are presented in; this thus makes it unlikely that the two names will be confused, for example, when writing in English while using the family name-given name naming order.
However, due to the variety of pronuncia
Shinto or kami-no-michi is the traditional religion of Japan that focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written historical records of the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki in the 8th century. Still, these earliest Japanese writings do not refer to a unified religion, but rather to a collection of native beliefs and mythology. Shinto today is the religion of public shrines devoted to the worship of a multitude of "spirits", "essences" or "gods", suited to various purposes such as war memorials and harvest festivals, applies as well to various sectarian organizations. Practitioners express their diverse beliefs through a standard language and practice, adopting a similar style in dress and ritual, dating from around the time of the Nara and Heian periods; the word Shinto was adopted as Jindō or Shindō, from the written Chinese Shendao, combining two kanji: shin, meaning "spirit" or kami.
The oldest recorded usage of the word Shindo is from the second half of the 6th century. Kami is rendered in English as "spirits", "essences", or "gods", refers to the energy generating the phenomena. Since the Japanese language does not distinguish between singular and plural, kami refers to the singular divinity, or sacred essence, that manifests in multiple forms: rocks, rivers, objects and people can be said to possess the nature of kami. Kami and people are not separate; as much as nearly 80% of the population in Japan participates in Shinto practices or rituals, but only a small percentage of these identify themselves as "Shintoists" in surveys. This is. Most of the Japanese attend Shinto shrines and beseech kami without belonging to an institutional Shinto religion. There are no formal rituals to become a practitioner of "folk Shinto". Thus, "Shinto membership" is estimated counting only those who do join organised Shinto sects. Shinto has about 85,000 priests in the country. According to surveys carried out in 2006 and 2008, less than 40% of the population of Japan identifies with an organised religion: around 35% are Buddhists, 3% to 4% are members of Shinto sects and derived religions.
In 2008, 26% of the participants reported visiting Shinto shrines, while only 16.2% expressed belief in the existence of a god or gods in general. According to Inoue: "In modern scholarship, the term is used with reference to kami worship and related theologies and practices. In these contexts,'Shinto' takes on the meaning of'Japan's traditional religion', as opposed to foreign religions such as Christianity, Islam and so forth." Shinto religious expressions have been distinguished by scholars into a series of categories: Shrine Shinto, the main tradition of Shinto, has always been a part of Japan's history. It consists of taking part in worship events at local shrines. Before the Meiji Restoration, shrines were disorganized institutions attached to Buddhist temples; the current successor to the imperial organization system, the Association of Shinto Shrines, oversees about 80,000 shrines nationwide. Imperial Household Shinto are the religious rites performed by the imperial family at the three shrines on the imperial grounds, including the Ancestral Spirits Sanctuary and the Sanctuary of the Kami.
Folk Shinto includes the numerous folk beliefs in spirits. Practices include divination, spirit possession, shamanic healing; some of their practices come from Buddhism, Taoism or Confucianism, but most come from ancient local traditions. Sect Shinto is a legal designation created in the 1890s to separate government-owned shrines from local organised religious communities; these communities originated in the Edo period. The basic difference between Shrine Shinto and Sect Shinto is that sects are a development and grew self-consciously, they can identify a founder, a formal set of teachings and sacred scriptures. Sect Shinto groups are thirteen, classified under five headings: pure Shinto sects, Confucian sects,mountain worship sects, purification sects, faith-healing sects (Kurozumikyo／黒住教, Konkokyo/金光教 and its branching Omotokyo/大本教 and Tenrikyo／天理教. Koshintō, literally'Old Shinto', is a reconstructed "Shinto from before the time of Buddhism", today based on Ainu religion and Ryukyuan practices.
It continues the restoration movement begun by Hirata Atsutane. Many other sects and schools can be distinguished. Faction Shinto is a grouping of Japanese new religions developed since the second half of the 20th century that have departed from traditional Shinto and are not always regarded as part of it. Kami, shin, or, jin is defined in English as "god", "spirit", or "spiritual essence", all these terms meaning "the energy generating a thing". Since the Japanese language does not distinguish between singular and plural, kami refers to the divinity, or sacred essence, that manifests in multiple forms. Rocks, rivers, objects, places