National Treasure (Japan)
A National Treasure is the most precious of Japan's Tangible Cultural Properties, as determined and designated by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. A Tangible Cultural Property is considered to be of historic or artistic value, classified either as "buildings and structures" or as "fine arts and crafts." Each National Treasure must show outstanding workmanship, a high value for world cultural history, or exceptional value for scholarship. 20% of the National Treasures are structures such as castles, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, or residences. The other 80% are paintings; the items span the period of ancient to early modern Japan before the Meiji period, including pieces of the world's oldest pottery from the Jōmon period and 19th-century documents and writings. The designation of the Akasaka Palace in 2009 and of the Tomioka Silk Mill in 2014 added two modern, post-Meiji Restoration, National Treasures. Japan has a comprehensive network of legislation for protecting and classifying its cultural patrimony.
The regard for physical and intangible properties and their protection is typical of Japanese preservation and restoration practices. Methods of protecting designated National Treasures include restrictions on alterations and export, as well as financial support in the form of grants and tax reduction; the Agency for Cultural Affairs provides owners with advice on restoration and public display of the properties. These efforts are supplemented by laws that protect the built environment of designated structures and the necessary techniques for restoration of works. Kansai, the region of Japan's capitals from ancient times to the 19th century, has the most National Treasures. Fine arts and crafts properties are owned or are in museums, including national museums such as Tokyo and Nara, public prefectural and city museums, private museums. Religious items are housed in temples and Shinto shrines or in an adjacent museum or treasure house. Japanese cultural properties were in the ownership of Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, aristocratic or samurai families.
Feudal Japan ended abruptly in 1867/68 when the Tokugawa shogunate was replaced by the Meiji Restoration. During the ensuing haibutsu kishaku triggered by the official policy of separation of Shinto and Buddhism and anti-Buddhist movements propagating the return to Shinto, Buddhist buildings and artwork were destroyed. In 1871, the government confiscated temple lands, considered symbolic of the ruling elite. Properties belonging to the feudal lords were expropriated, historic castles and residences were destroyed, an estimated 18,000 temples were closed. During the same period, Japanese cultural heritage was impacted by the rise of industrialization and westernization; as a result and Shinto institutions became impoverished. Temples decayed, valuable objects were exported. In 1871, the Daijō-kan issued a decree to protect Japanese antiquities called the Plan for the Preservation of Ancient Artifacts. Based on recommendations from the universities, the decree ordered prefectures and shrines to compile lists of important buildings and art.
However, these efforts proved to be ineffective in the face of radical westernisation. In 1880, the government allotted funds for the preservation of ancient temples. By 1894, 539 shrines and temples had received government funded subsidies to conduct repairs and reconstruction; the five-storied pagoda of Daigo-ji, the kon-dō of Tōshōdai-ji, the hon-dō of Kiyomizu-dera are examples of buildings that underwent repairs during this period. A survey conducted in association with Okakura Kakuzō and Ernest Fenollosa between 1888 and 1897 was designed to evaluate and catalogue 210,000 objects of artistic or historic merit; the end of the 19th century was a period of political change in Japan as cultural values moved from the enthusiastic adoption of western ideas to a newly discovered interest in Japanese heritage. Japanese architectural history began to appear on curricula, the first books on architectural history were published, stimulated by the newly compiled inventories of buildings and art. On June 5, 1897, the Ancient Temples and Shrines Preservation Law was enacted.
Formulated under the guidance of architectural historian and architect Itō Chūta, the law established government funding for the preservation of buildings and the restoration of artworks. The law applied to architecture and pieces of art relating to an architectural structure, with the proviso that historic uniqueness and exceptional quality were to be established. Applications for financial support were to be made to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the responsibility for restoration or preservation lay in the hands of local officials. Restoration works were financed directly from the national coffers. A second law was passed on December 15, 1897, that provided supplementary provisions to designate works of art in the possession of temples or shrines as "National Treasures"; the new law provided for pieces of religious architecture to be designated as a "Specially Protected Building"
Christianity in Japan
Christianity in Japan is among the nation's minority religions. Around 1 percent of the population claims Christian affiliation. Most large Christian denominations, including Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity, are represented in Japan today. Since the mid-1990s, the majority of Japanese, despite claiming to be nonreligious, wed in Christian-style ceremonies which has had a major impact on Japanese Christianity; the Japanese word for Christianity is a compound of kirisuto the Japanese adaptation of the Portuguese word for Christ, the Sino-Japanese word for doctrine, like in Bukkyō. Japan remains one of the most secular nations in the world according to the World Values Survey. While there may be up to 3 million Japanese Christians, Christianity in Japan is spread among many denominational affiliations. 70 percent of Japanese churches have an average attendance of less than 30, though membership is double this figure. The celebration of selected Christian holidays has gained popularity in Japan since the Second World War – as commercial events, but with an emphasis on sharing time with loved ones, either significant others or close family.
Except in Japan's minority Christian communities, Easter is not marked by any special form of celebration. Christmas in Japan is celebrated on a much larger scale as a commercial and secular festival, but again is not an official public holiday. Christmas lights, Santa Claus, gift exchanges, eating Western-inspired Christmas foods Kentucky Fried Chicken and strawberry shortcake, are all familiar features of this event. Rather than being a family or religious occasion, Christmas is seen as a time to spend with friends or a significant other. Christmas Eve is celebrated as a couple's holiday. Valentine's Day in Japan is celebrated, but the normal Western cultural traditions are reversed – women give men a gift of chocolate, on White Day, one month the favor is returned. Gifts are not exclusive to romantic relationships, it is not as common for couples to go out on dates together. Christian-style weddings have become prominent as an alternative to traditional Shinto ceremonies. Architecturally resembling churches, wedding chapels have sprung up across Japan, with employees dressed as priests officiating.
Black gospel music has had an enthusiastic reception in Japan. Stylistic elements from this genre are employed in many J-pop songs. Catholicism in Japan exists in communion with the worldwide Roman Catholic Church under the authority of the Pope in Rome. Presently there are about 509,000 Catholics in 16 dioceses in Japan; the patron saints of Japan are Peter Baptist. Arriving in Japan in the middle of the 16th century, Catholicism was the second contact of Christianity in Japan, the only major source of Christianization in Japan until the fall of the shogunate and the Meiji restoration. Christianity was proclaimed by the Society of Jesus, joined on by the less cautious Franciscan order. In 1570 there were 20 Catholic missionaries in Japan. Nagasaki became the center of Japanese Catholicism, maintained close cultural and religious ties to its Portuguese origins; these ties were severed. A multitude of Japanese Catholics were brutally tortured and killed for their faith, thus becoming martyrs. Many of these martyrs have been canonized, their liturgical memorial is celebrated each year on February 6 in honor of their fidelity to Christ and his Church unto death.
In 1981, Pope John Paul II paid a visit to Japan, during which he met with Japanese people, the clergy, Catholic lay people, held Holy Mass in the Korakuen Stadium, visited the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, the Hill of Martyrs in Nagasaki, town of the Immaculate founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe in Nagasaki, other places. Dr. James Curtis Hepburn, M. D. LL. D. was the first Presbyterian missionary to Japan, arriving in 1859, the same year as the first ordained representatives of the Anglican Communion, the Rev. Bishop, Channing Moore Williams, founder of Rikkyo University and the Rev. John Liggins of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Hepburn went to Japan as a medical missionary with the American Presbyterian Mission opening a clinic in Kanagawa Prefecture, near present-day Tokyo, he founded the Hepburn School, which developed into Meiji Gakuin University, wrote a Japanese–English dictionary. In the dictionary's third edition, published in 1886, Hepburn adopted a new system for romanization of the Japanese language.
This system is known as Hepburn romanization because Hepburn's dictionary popularized it. Hepburn contributed to the Protestant translation of the Bible into Japanese. Hepburn returned to the United States in 1892. On March 14, 1905, Hepburn's 90th birthday, he was awarded the decoration of the Order of the Rising Sun, third class. Hepburn was the second foreigner to receive this honor. Divie Bethune McCartee was the first ordained Presbyterian minister missionary to visit Ja
Japanese mythology embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions as well as agriculturally-based folk religion. The Shinto pantheon comprises innumerable kami; this article will discuss only the typical elements present in Asian mythology, such as cosmogony, important deities, the best-known Japanese stories. Japanese myths, as recognized in the mainstream today, are based on the Kojiki, the Nihon Shoki, some complementary books; the Kojiki, or "Record of Ancient Matters", is the oldest surviving account of Japan's myths and history. The Shintōshū describes the origins of Japanese deities from a Buddhist perspective, while the Hotsuma Tsutae records a different version of the mythology. One notable feature of Japanese mythology is its explanation of the origin of the Imperial Family, used to assign godhood to the imperial line; the title of the Emperor of Japan, tennō, means "heavenly sovereign". Japanese is not transliterated across all sources, see: #Spelling of proper nouns In the Japanese creation myth, the first deities which came into existence, appearing at the time of the creation of the universe, are collectively called Kotoamatsukami.
The seven generations of kami, known as Kamiyonanayo, following the formation of heaven and earth. The first two generations are individual deities called hitorigami, while the five that followed came into being as male/female pairs of kami: brothers and sisters that were married couples. In this chronicle, the Kamiyonanayo comprise 12 deities in total. In contrast, the Nihon Shoki states that the Kamiyonanayo group was the first to appear after the creation of the universe, as opposed to the Kamiyonanayo appearing after the formation of heaven and earth, it states that the first three generations of deities are hitorigami and that the generations of deities are pairs of the opposite gender, as compared to the Kojiki's two generations of hitorigami. Japan's creation narrative can be divided into the birth of the land; the seventh and last generation of Kamiyonanayo were Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto, they would be responsible for the creation of the Japanese archipelago and would engender other deities.
To help them to achieve this and Izanami were given a naginata decorated with jewels, named Ame-no-nuboko. The two deities went to the bridge between heaven and earth and churned the sea below with the halberd. Drops of salty water formed Onogoro; the deities made their home on the island. They fell in love and wished to mate. So they built. Izanagi and Izanami circled the pillar in opposite directions, when they met on the other side, the female deity, spoke first in greeting. Izanagi didn't think that this was proper, they had two children and Awashima, but the children were badly formed and are not considered gods in their original form. The parents, who were dismayed at their misfortune, put the children into a boat and sent them to sea, petitioned the other gods for an answer about what they had done wrong, they were informed that Izanami's lack of manners was the reason for the defective births: a woman should never speak prior to a man. So Izanagi and Izanami went around the pillar again, this time, when they met, Izanagi spoke first.
Their next union was successful. From their union were born the Ōyashima, or the eight great islands of Japan: Awaji Iyo Oki Tsukushi Iki Tsushima Sado Yamato Note that Hokkaidō, Chishima and Okinawa were not part of Japan in ancient times. Izanami died giving birth to Kagutsuchi called Homusubi due to severe burns, she was buried on Mount Hiba, at the border of the old provinces of Izumo and Hoki, near modern-day Yasugi of Shimane Prefecture. In anger, Izanagi killed Kagutsuchi, his death created dozens of deities. The gods who were born from Izanagi and Izanami are symbolic aspects of culture. Izanagi undertook a journey to Yomi. Izanagi found little difference between Yomi and the land except for the eternal darkness. However, this suffocating darkness was enough to make him ache for life, he searched for Izanami and found her. At first, Izanagi could not see her, he asked her to return with him. Izanami informed him that he was too late, she had eaten the food of the underworld and now belonged to the land of the dead.
Izanagi was shocked at this news, but he refused to give in to her wishes to be left to the dark embrace of Yomi. Izanami first requested to have some time to rest, she instructed Izanagi to not come into her bedroom. After a long wait, Izanami did not come out of her bedroom, Izanagi was worried. While Izanami was sleeping, he took the comb that set it alight as a torch. Under the sudden burst of light, he saw the horrid form of the once graceful Izanami; the flesh of her ravaged body was rotting and was overrun with maggots and fou
Early works of Japanese literature were influenced by cultural contact with China and Chinese literature written in Classical Chinese. Indian literature had an influence through the separation of Buddhism in Japan. Japanese literature developed into a separate style, although the influence of Chinese literature and Classical Chinese remained until the end of the Edo period. Since Japan reopened its ports to Western trading and diplomacy in the 19th century and Eastern literature have affected each other and continue to do so. Before the introduction of kanji from China, the Japanese had no writing system, it is believed that Chinese characters came to Japan at the beginning of the fifth century, brought by immigrants from the mainland of Korean and Chinese descent. Early Japanese texts first followed the Chinese model, before transitioning to a hybrid of Chinese characters used in Japanese syntactical formats, resulting in sentences that looked like Chinese but were read phonetically as Japanese.
Chinese characters were further adapted, creating what is known as man'yōgana, the earliest form of kana, or Japanese syllabic writing. The earliest literary works in Japan were created in the Nara period; these include the Kojiki, a historical record that chronicles ancient Japanese mythology and folk songs. One of the stories they describe is the tale of Urashima Tarō; the Heian period has been referred to as the golden era of literature in Japan. During this era, literature became centered on a cultural elite of nobility and monks; the imperial court patronized the poets, most of whom were courtiers or ladies-in-waiting. Reflecting the aristocratic atmosphere, the poetry was elegant and sophisticated and expressed emotions in a rhetorical style. Editing the resulting anthologies of poetry soon became a national pastime; the iroha poem, now one of two standard orderings for the Japanese syllabary, was developed during the early Heian period. Genji Monogatari, written in the early 11th century by a woman named Murasaki Shikibu, is considered the pre-eminent novel of Heian fiction.
Other important writings of this period include the Kokin Wakashū, a waka-poetry anthology, Makura no Sōshi. The Pillow Book was written by Sei Shōnagon, Murasaki Shikibu's contemporary and rival, as an essay about the life and pastimes of nobles in the Emperor's court. Another notable piece of fictional Japanese literature was Konjaku Monogatarishū, a collection of over a thousand stories in 31 volumes; the volumes cover various tales from India and Japan. The 10th-century Japanese narrative, Taketori Monogatari, can be considered an early example of proto-science fiction; the protagonist of the story, Kaguya-hime, is a princess from the Moon, sent to Earth for safety during a celestial war, is found and raised by a bamboo cutter. She is taken back to her extraterrestrial family in an illustrated depiction of a disc-shaped flying object similar to a flying saucer. During the Kamakura period, Japan experienced many civil wars which led to the development of a warrior class, subsequent war tales and related stories.
Work from this period is notable for its more somber tone compared to the works of previous eras, with themes of life and death, simple lifestyles, redemption through killing. A representative work is Heike Monogatari, an epic account of the struggle between the Minamoto and Taira clans for control of Japan at the end of the twelfth century. Other important tales of the period include Kamo no Chōmei's Hōjōki and Yoshida Kenkō's Tsurezuregusa. Despite a decline in the importance of the imperial court, aristocratic literature remained the center of Japanese culture at the beginning of the Kamakura period. Many literary works were marked by a nostalgia for the Heian period; the Kamakura period saw a renewed vitality of poetry, with a number of anthologies compiled, such as the Shin Kokin Wakashū compiled in the early 1200s. However, there were fewer notable works by female authors during this period, reflecting the lowered status of women; as the importance of the imperial court continued to decline, a major feature of Muromachi literature was the spread of cultural activity through all levels of society.
Classical court literature, the focal point of Japanese literature up until this point disappeared. New genres such as renga, or linked verse, Noh theater developed among the common people, setsuwa such as the Nihon Ryoiki were created by Buddhist priests for preaching; the development of roads, along with a growing public interest in travel and pilgrimages, brought rise to the greater popularity of travel literature from the early 13th to 14th centuries. Notable examples of travel diaries include Fuji Tsukushi michi no ki. Literature during this time was written during the peaceful Tokugawa Period. Due in large part to the rise of the working and middle classes in the new capital of Edo, forms of popular drama developed which would evolve into kabuki; the jōruri and kabuki dramatist Chikamatsu Monzaemon became popular at the end of the 17th century, he is known as Japan's Shakespeare. Many different genres of literature made their début during the Edo Period, helped by a rising literacy rate among the growing population of townspeople, as well as the development of lending libraries.
Ihara Saikaku (16
Music of Japan
The music of Japan includes a wide array of performers in distinct styles, both traditional and modern. The word for "music" in Japanese is 音楽. Japan is the largest physical music market in the world, worth US$2 billion in sales in physical formats in 2014, the second-largest overall music market, worth a total retail value of 2.6 billion dollars in 2014 – dominated by Japanese artists, with 37 of the top 50 best-selling albums and 49 of the top 50 best-selling singles in 2014. Local music appears at karaoke venues, on lease from the record labels. Traditional Japanese music differs markedly from Western music, as it is based on the intervals of human breathing rather than on mathematical timing. There are two forms of music recognized to be the oldest forms of traditional Japanese music, they are shōmyō, or Buddhist chanting, gagaku, or orchestral court music, both of which date to the Nara and Heian periods. Gagaku is a type of classical music, performed at the Imperial court since the Heian period.
Kagura-uta, Azuma-asobi and Yamato-uta are indigenous repertories. Tōgaku and komagaku originated from the Chinese Tang dynasty via the Korean Peninsula. In addition, gagaku is divided into bugaku. Originating as early as the 13th century are honkyoku; these are single shakuhachi pieces played by mendicant Fuke sect priests of Zen buddhism. These priests, called komusō, played honkyoku for alms and enlightenment; the Fuke sect ceased to exist in the 19th century, but a verbal and written lineage of many honkyoku continues today, though this music is now practiced in a concert or performance setting. The samurai listened to and performed in these music activities, in their practices of enriching their lives and understanding; the biwa, a form of short-necked lute, was played by a group of itinerant performers who used it to accompany stories. The most famous of these stories is The Tale of the Heike, a 12th-century history of the triumph of the Minamoto clan over the Taira. Biwa hōshi began organizing themselves into a guild-like association for visually impaired men as early as the thirteenth century.
This guild controlled a large portion of the musical culture of Japan. Biwa is Japan's traditional instrument. In addition, numerous smaller groups of itinerant blind musicians were formed in the Kyushu area; these musicians, known as mōsō toured their local areas and performed a variety of religious and semi-religious texts to purify households and bring about good health and good luck. They maintained a repertory of secular genres; the biwa that they played was smaller than the Heike biwa played by the biwa hōshi. Lafcadio Hearn related in his book Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things "Mimi-nashi Hoichi", a Japanese ghost story about a blind biwa hōshi who performs "The Tale of the Heike" Blind women, known as goze toured the land since the medieval era, singing songs and playing accompanying music on a lap drum. From the seventeenth century they played the koto or the shamisen. Goze organizations sprung up throughout the land, existed until in what is today Niigata prefecture; the taiko, is a Japanese drum that comes in various sizes and is used to play a variety of musical genres.
It has become popular in recent years as the central instrument of percussion ensembles whose repertory is based on a variety of folk and festival music of the past. Such taiko music is played by large drum ensembles called kumi-daiko, its origins are uncertain, but can be stretched out as far back as the 7th centuries, when a clay figure of a drummer indicates its existence. China influences followed. Taiko drums during this period were used during battle to intimidate the enemy and to communicate commands. Taiko continue to be used in the religious music of Buddhism and Shintō. In the past players were holy men, who played only at special occasions and in small groups, but in time secular men played the taiko in semi-religious festivals such as the bon dance. Modern ensemble taiko is said to have been invented by Daihachi Oguchi in 1951. A jazz drummer, Oguchi incorporated his musical background into large ensembles, which he had designed, his energetic style made his group popular throughout Japan, made the Hokuriku region a center for taiko music.
Musical groups to arise from this wave of popularity included Oedo Sukeroku Daiko, with Seido Kobayashi. 1969 saw. During the 1970s, the Japanese government allocated funds to preserve Japanese culture, many community taiko groups were formed. In the century, taiko groups spread across the world to the United States; the video game Taiko no Tatsujin is based around taiko. One example of a modern Taiko band is Gocoo. Japanese folk songs can be grouped and classified in many ways but it is convenient to think of four main categories: work songs, religious songs, songs used for gatherings such as weddings and festivals, children's songs. In min'yō, singers are accompanied by the three-stringed lute known as the shamisen, taiko drums, a
Japanese art covers a wide range of art styles and media, including ancient pottery, ink painting and calligraphy on silk and paper, ukiyo-e paintings and woodblock prints, ceramics and more manga, modern Japanese cartoons and comics along with a myriad of other types. It has a long history, ranging from the beginnings of human habitation in Japan, sometime in the 10th millennium BC, to the present-day country. Japan has been subject to sudden invasions of new ideas followed by long periods of minimal contact with the outside world. Over time the Japanese developed the ability to absorb and assimilate those elements of foreign culture that complemented their aesthetic preferences; the earliest complex art in Japan was produced in the 7th and 8th centuries in connection with Buddhism. In the 9th century, as the Japanese began to turn away from China and develop indigenous forms of expression, the secular arts became important. After the Ōnin War, Japan entered a period of political and economic disruption that lasted for over a century.
In the state that emerged under the leadership of the Tokugawa shogunate, organized religion played a much less important role in people's lives, the arts that survived were secular. Painting is the preferred artistic expression in Japan, practiced by amateurs and professionals alike; until modern times, the Japanese wrote with a brush rather than a pen, their familiarity with brush techniques has made them sensitive to the values and aesthetics of painting. With the rise of popular culture in the Edo period, a style of woodblock prints became a major form and its techniques were fine tuned to produce colorful prints; the Japanese, in this period, found sculpture a much less sympathetic medium for artistic expression. Japanese ceramics are among the finest in the world and include the earliest known artifacts of their culture. In architecture, Japanese preferences for natural materials and an interaction of interior and exterior space are expressed; the first settlers of Japan, the Jōmon people, named for the cord markings that decorated the surfaces of their clay vessels, were nomadic hunter-gatherers who practiced organized farming and built cities with populations of hundreds if not thousands.
They built simple houses of wood and thatch set into shallow earthen pits to provide warmth from the soil. They crafted lavishly decorated pottery storage vessels, clay figurines called dogū, crystal jewels. During the Early Jōmon Period, villages started to be discovered and ordinary everyday objects were found such as ceramic ports purposed for boiling water; the pots that were found during this time had flat bottoms and had elaborate designs made out of materials such as bamboo. In addition, another important find was the early Jōmon figurines which might have been used as fertility objects due to the breasts and swelling hips that they exhibited; the Middle Jōmon Period, contrasted from the Early Jōmon Period in many ways. These people began to settle in villages, they created tools that were able to process the food that they gathered and hunted which made living easier for them. Through the numerous aesthetically pleasing ceramics that were found during this time period, it is evident that these people had a stable economy and more leisure time to establish beautiful pieces.
In addition, the people of the Middle Jōmon period differed from their preceding ancestors because they developed vessels according to their function, for example, they produced pots in order to store items. The decorations on these vessels started to become more realistic looking as opposed to the early Jōmon ceramics. Overall, the production of works not only increased during this period, but these individuals made them more decorative and naturalistic. During the Late and Final Jōmon period, the weather started to get colder, therefore forcing them to move away from the mountains; the main food source during this time was fish, which made them improve their fishing supplies and tools. This advancement was a important achievement during this time. In addition, the numbers of vessels increased which could conclude that each house had their own figurine displayed in them. Although various vessels were found during the Late and Final Jōmon Period, these pieces were found damaged which might indicate that they used them for rituals.
In addition, figurines were found and were characterized by their fleshy bodies and goggle like eyes. The next wave of immigrants was the Yayoi people, named for the district in Tokyo where remnants of their settlements first were found; these people, arriving in Japan about 300 BC, brought their knowledge of wetland rice cultivation, the manufacture of copper weapons and bronze bells, wheel-thrown, kiln-fired ceramics. The third stage in Japanese prehistory, the Kofun period, represents a modification of Yayoi culture, attributable either to internal development or external force; the period is named for the large number of kofun megalithic tombs created during this period. In this period, diverse groups of people coalesced into a nation. Typical artifacts are bronze mirrors, symbols of political alliances, clay sculptures called haniwa which were erected outside tombs. During the Asuka and Nara periods, so named because the seat of Japanese government was located in the Asuka Valley from 542 to 645 and in the city of Nara until 7
Marriage in Japan
Marriage in Japan is a legal and social institution at the center of the household. Couples are married once they have made the change in status on their family registration sheets, without the need for a ceremony. Most weddings are held either according to Shinto traditions or in chapels according to Christian marriage traditions. Traditionally, marriages were categorized into two types according to the method of finding a partner—omiai, meaning arranged or resulting from an arranged introduction, ren'ai, in which the husband and wife met and decided to marry on their own—although the distinction has grown less meaningful over postwar decades as Western ideas of love alter Japanese perceptions of marriage; the institution of marriage in Japan has changed radically over the last millennium. Indigenous practices adapted first to Chinese Confucianism during the medieval era, to Western concepts of individualism, gender equality, romantic love, the nuclear family during the modern era. Customs once exclusive to a small aristocracy gained mass popularity as the population became urbanized.
The Heian period of Japanese history marked the culmination of its classical era, when the vast imperial court established itself and its culture in Heian-kyō. Heian society was organized by an elaborate system of rank, the purpose of marriage was to produce children who would inherit the highest possible rank from the best-placed lineage, it was neither ceremonial nor permanent. Aristocrats exchanged letters and poetry for a period of months or years before arranging to meet after dark. If a man saw the same woman for a period of three nights, they were considered married, the wife's parents held a banquet for the couple. Most members of the lower-class engaged in a permanent marriage with one partner, husbands arranged to bring their wives into their own household, in order to ensure the legitimacy of their offspring. High-ranked noblemen sometimes kept multiple concubines. Aristocratic wives could remain in their fathers' house, the husband would recognize paternity with the formal presentation of a gift.
The forms of Heian courtship, as well as the pitfalls of amorous intrigue, are well represented in the literature of the period The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, The Sarashina Diary, The Pillow Book, The Tale of Genji. In pre-modern Japan, marriage was inextricable from the ie, the basic unit of society with a collective continuity independent of any individual life. Members of the household were expected to subordinate all their own interests to that of the ie, with respect for an ideal of filial piety and social hierarchy that borrowed much from Confucianism; the choice to remain single was the greatest crime, according to Baron Hozumi. Marriages were duly arranged by the head of the household, who represented it publicly and was responsible for its members, any preference by either principal in a marital arrangement was considered improper. Property was regarded to belong to the ie rather than to individuals, inheritance was agnatic primogeniture. A woman married the household of her husband, hence the logograms for yomeiri.
In the absence of sons, some households would adopt a male heir to maintain the dynasty, a practice which continues in corporate Japan. Nearly all adoptions are of adult men. Marriage was restricted to households of equal social standing, which made selection a crucial, painstaking process. Although Confucian ethics encouraged people to marry outside their own group, limiting the search to a local community remained the easiest way to ensure an honorable match. One-in-five marriages in pre-modern Japan occurred between households that were related. Outcast communities such as the Burakumin could not marry outside of their caste, marriage discrimination continued after an 1871 edict abolished the caste system, well into the twentieth century. Marriage between a Japanese and non-Japanese person was not permitted until 14 March 1873, a date now commemorated as White Day. Marriage with a foreigner required the Japanese national to surrender her social standing; the purposes of marriage in the medieval and Edo periods was to form alliances between families, to relieve the family of its female dependents, to perpetuate the family line, for the lower classes, to add new members to the family's workforce.
The seventeenth-century treatise Onna Daigaku instructed wives honor their parents-in-law before their own parents, to be "courteous and conciliatory" towards their husbands. Husbands were encouraged to place the needs of their parents and children before those of their wives. One British observer remarked, "If you love your wife you spoil your mother's servant." The tension between a housewife and her mother-in-law has been a keynote of Japanese drama since. Romantic love played little part in medieval marriages, as emotional attachment was considered inconsistent with filial piety. A proverb said, "Those who come together in passion stay together in tears." For men, sexual gratification was seen as separate from conjugal relations with one's wife, where the purpose was procreation. The genre called Ukiyo-e celebrated the luxury and hedonism of the era with depictions of beautiful courtesans and geisha of the pleasure districts. Concubinage and prostitution were common, public respectable, until the social upheaval of the Meiji Restoration put an end to feudal society in Japan.
During the Meiji period, upper class and samurai customs of arr