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- Ancient Japan
By Trevor Henits
- Map of Civilization
- Timeline of Ancient Japan
10,500-300 BC Jomon Period, Ancient Japan period
300 BC-300 AD Yayoi Period, Ancient Japan period
300-710 Kofun or Yamato Period, Ancient Japan period
552-645 Asuka Period, Start of Classical Japan period
- Information About Japan
The ancient Japanese culture is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The Jomon period dates back to 300 B.C. and was the first period of Ancient Japan.TheJomon made stone and bone tools, and pottery beginning at a few sites as early as 15,500 BP. The word Jomon means 'cord pattern', and it refers to the cord-marked impressions seen on Jomon pottery. The Jomon period was divided into 6 eras. The eras included the incipient era, the Initial era, the early era, the middle era, the last Jomon era, and the final Jomon era.
- Social Structure
During the Jomon Period (13000 BC to 300 BC), the inhabitants of the Japanese islands were gatherers, fishers and hunters. Jomon is the name of the era's pottery.
During the Yayoi Period (300 BC to 300 AD), with the introduction of agriculture, social classes started to evolve, and parts of the country began to unite under powerful land owners.
- Social Structure Contd
By the beginning of the Kofun Period (300 - 538), a center of power had developed in the fertile Kinai Plain, and by about 400 AD the country was united as Yamato Japan with its political center in and around the province of Yamato.
During the Jomon period, the Japanese lived in wood stilt houses and pit dwellings and a rudimentary forms of agriculture.
The pit dwellings of the Jomon people were continued to be used by the Yayoi. The Yayoi also added eastern Chinese-type raised-floor buildings, probably to store rice. The architecture of these storage houses became the basis of the style of later Shinto buildings.
- Housing Contd
During the Kofun period, many of the common people still lived in thatched pit houses, little changed from the prehistoric Jomontimes, with one improvement, the kamadostove. Most houses had one built along the wall, that helped improve air quality within the home. Some of the homes were no longer pit houses or subterranean, but were built above ground and others had wooden walls and wooden boarding over the floors.
- Wealthy Japanese & How they Lived
Houses of powerful clansmen and village leaders were considerably grander and were sometimes constructedusing architectural techniques for building raised storehouses. They also began to set their homes apart from those of the commonfolk,surrounded them withditches and fences. Their homes had ritual altars within them.
- Traditional Japanese Food
Every one knows that sushi is Japans national food. Scientists can trace sushi's origin back to the 4th century BC in Southeast Asia. As a preserved food, the salted fish, fermented with rice, was an important source of protein. The cleaned and gutted fish were kept in rice so that the natural fermentation of the rice helped preserve the fish. This type of sushi is called nare-zushi, and was taken out of storage after a couple of months or so of fermentation and then only the fish was consumed while the rice was discarded.
- Family Life
One key thing about Japanese life is respect. Japanese
children have to be very obedient to their parents. The
Japanese greet each other by bowing. A lower bow would
depend on your social understanding of the person, for
example, a child would bow much lower than a parent, it
shows more respect. The family life would be almost
similar to some families now a days. The dad would go
do his job which would usually be either, a fisherman,
gatherer, or a farmer. The mom would stay around the
house and clean, cook and other things that need to be done.
The children would eat breakfast in the morning pack their things and go to school.
Japanese marriages were often
used as political and diplomatic
means to maintain peace and unity
among feudal lords. The young men
and women of the day did not have a
say in choosing their partners in
marriage. Rather, a matchmaker
would arrange marriages on behalf
of both families. Although a man
would have more of a say in who he
wants to marry. The man would
usually go visit the lady of his choice
at her home.
- Marriage Contd
If the womens parents approve their union the man would be invited to a ceremony called tokoro-arawashi, and offered mochi rice cakes. This ceremony was deemed to be the most important function in ancient weddings.
Customarily, a month before birth, a woman would leave her husband return to her parents home and give birth. Her family would care for her one month then she'd return to her husband with child. After the fifth month of pregnancy, a woman wears a cotton abdomen band called a Iwata-obi. It is given by her family for protection, good luck and an easy birth.
Growing up in Ancient Japan, children were made to help hunt & gather food at a very young age. Everyone was expected to contribute to the village or tribe.
- Childhood Comparison
Growing up today is alot different than it would have been during the Ancient Japan period. There are many things that are different such as the clothing I wear, the house I live in, the education that I get, the food that I eat and the things that I get to do.
It is hard to find information on education during the Ancient Japan period. Now of days, education played an important role in Japanese life. Almost all Japanese can read and write.
There are different ways of writing. They are Kanji (used for picture words), Hiragana (used for sounds), and Katakana (used for foreign words borrowed from China.), and Romaji
(used for words in Roman). The older
you get the more you have to
memorize these writing systems.
Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the year 538 or 552 and was promoted by the ruling class. Shinto and Buddhism are Japan's two major religions. They have been co-existing for several centuries and have even complemented each other to a certain degree. Most Japanese consider themselves Buddhist, Shintoist or both.
- Common God of the Civilization
There were man y Gods of Ancient Japan. One was Haniyasu-hiko. He is the god of the earth. Hiko is denoted by the symbol, Jishin the earthquake. Haniyasus wife is Haniyasu-hime. He is a little irritated by human beings but in his heart cares for them. Another name for him is Tamon. Toyouke, Kanayama and Fudo serve him as soldiers. There are many more Japanese gods like Hiruko, Inari and Benzaiten.
Jomon people wore clothes made from long narrow strips of mulberry bark. Supple strips of the bark wereremoved from young mulberry trees, poundedwith a stone and woven into long sack-like vests. For a long time, people thought of the Jomon peopleas primitive stone age people who were mostly naked or who wore only animal skins and fur and clothes made out of smashed tree bark fibres.
They are dogu, the most remarkable products of Japan's Jomon Period. The dogu are humanoid forms shaped in clay, large and small,
richly decorated or homely and
unadorned. Some 18,000 of them
have been unearthed to date, in
Jomon-period settlements stretching
from Kyushu, north through Tohoku
to Hokkaido. The oldest are nearly
10,000 years old, the youngest a mere
The drum is thought to have
dominatedthe music and
ceremonial scene of the Jomon
people. It is thought that the drum
powerwasassociated with the gods
and that drum beating was used to
signal the start of thevillage hunt or the
approach of a storm.The rumbling
sounds of the drum persists till today in
thetaiko drum which remains a very
important traditional instrument of the
Besides the drum, they also had many kinds of whistles made from deer antler, stone or clay, as well as wooden primitive fiddle-like or koto-like instruments that could be strummed.
- Ancient Japanese Festival
Matsuri () is the Japanese word for a festival or holiday. In Japan, festivals are usually sponsored by a local shrine or a temple.
The Kyoto Gion festival was started in 869 A.D when a bad plague spread in