英語で紹介する日本文化Ⅱ                      20091127

Lesson 9: Japanese History 1

(Citation from Kenneth G. Henshall ”A History of Japan: From Stone Age to Superpower” Macmillan Press 1999)


Glimpses of unfamiliar Japan 1を先にする予定でしたが、先週言い間違えたのでJapanese Historyからやります。




 When Queen Himiko was buried with her 100 slaves it was obvious that a large tomb was needed100 paces() in diameter(直径), according to the Wei() Chih(). This was to set the fashion for some centuries. As society became more stratified(階層化する), those at the top wanted to show their status beyond the span of their mere mortal(死後の) life(生活). As with the pyramids in ancient Egypt, huge tombs were erected. In Japan’s case they were usually raised mounds surrounded by hollow(中空の) clay figurines(人形) known as ‘clay() rings()’.

 The clay rings are rather mysterious, but seem to have been a combination of tomb markers and status objects. There were also objects inside the tomb, probably for the afterlife. Many of these, too, were status objects, but it was not all a case of mere ostentation(装飾). The tombs also contained large numbers of weapons, leaving no doubt as to the ability of the ruling elite to maintain their position by force if necessary.




 The burial mounds are convenient physical(実体的な) symbols of this period. The most important feature of the period, however, is the emergence of the Yamato state, named after its power(根拠)-base() at Yamato in the Nara Basin(盆地).

 The pre-eminence(台頭する前) of Yamato forms the substance(要約) of the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki accounts. We saw earlier that these do not reveal much about the actual process, other than a triumph(勝利) over a rival power-base at Izumo by what appears to have been negotiation. Dates are also unreliable. Most experts now believe the first verifiable(証明できる) emperor was Suijin(崇神天皇). The Nihon Shoki lists him as the tenth emperor and gives his death as equivalent(相当する) to AD 30, whereas the Kojiki gives it as AD 258. In fact, 318 seems most likely.

  Some believe that Suijin may have been the leader of a group of fourth-century invaders from Korea known as the horse(騎馬)-riders(民族) who established the Yamato state. This is not impossible, but it seems more likely that Suijin was of the Yamato clan(氏族), and that his clan increased their power and authority by a gradual process of degree. In this they relied heavily on negotiation and persuasionand no doubt threat and coercionrather than simple military confrontation. Their preferred method seems to have been to incorporate(組み入れる) local chiefdoms(部族国家) already established in Yayoi times, and give the chieftains(族長) themselves places within the Yamato hierarchy(階層構造). Ranks(階級) and titles(爵位) were used by the Yamato court to give potentially troublesome members of formerly independent local regimes a personal stake(繋がり) in the emerging imperial system.

  The tactics(戦略) of where possible incorporating a powerful threat(脅威の的) rather than directly confronting it, and of drawing on a potential opponent’s strengths rather than trying simply to destroy them, is still widely seen today as a basic Japanese preference(好むもの). Its identification at such an early stage of Japanese history is testimony(証明するもの) to the depth of such a tradition.

  The ranks and titles given to those local kings and chiefs incorporate into the Yamato camp(陣営) were important in a status(地位によ)-()conscious(認識される) age. The Yamato administrative(行政の) system was strongly hierarchical. This, too, is a continuing characteristic of Japanese preferences.

  Exact dates remain unclear. It is probable that during the fourth and fifth centuries Yamato authority was not absolute but rather ‘first among equals’ among a coalition(連合) of clans. By the early sixth century, however, the Yamato imperial family seems to have emerged as the single prevailing(勢力のある) line(家系). It was at this point that rulers(支配者) of the Izumo region started to send tribute(貢物) to the Yamato ruler.




 The Yamato state needed a capital. Without this its centralized system of control would have no real core. In the final stages of the Yamato period there had been a few attempts to establish a permanent capital, but these had all failed for one reason or another.

  Then, in 710, the capital was moved to Heij?, better known now as Nara. Nara was modeled on the Tang() Chinese capital, Chang()-an(). It was a similar rectangular(長方形) grid(碁盤目) pattern, but at 20 square kilometer was only about a quarter of Ch’ang-an area.

  In less than a hundred years the capital was to move again. Nara proved not to be the hoped-for permanent site. Nevertheless, it represents the high point of the Japanese effort to learn from China. Physically(実体的に), China’s influence was seen not only in the design of the city but also grand buildings such as the Todaiji Templethe largest wooden building in the worldand the huge bronze statue of Buddha it contained. In broader terms, the age of the Nara capital may have been brief, but it shows most clearly the workings of the ritsury? and other Chinese-inspired(刺激を受けた) political and legal reforms.

  And it was during the age of Nara that Chinese writing led to the appearance of the first real books produced in Japan, the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki chronicles(年代記) of 712 and 720. These were followed shortly afterwards by the first poetry anthologies(名作集), the Kaif?s? of 751 and the Many?sh? of 759. Some documents were even printedanother Chinese influence.

 However, the respect for things Chinese did not lead to indiscriminate(見境のない) imitation. More often than not there were distinctive Japanese modifications(改善) to Chinese ‘imports’.




  Emperor Kammu(桓武天皇) was particularly unhappy in Nara, and in 784 he decided it was time to move the capital again. No one quite knows why. He may have felt oppressed(圧迫する) by the increasing number of powerful Buddhist temples in the city. Or, since there had been so many disasters in recent times, he may simply have felt it was ill()-fated(吉な). In an event, he left in a hurry.

  After a few years indecision(優柔不断) a new capital was finally built in 794 a short distance to the north, in Heianpresent-day Kyoto. Like Nara, it was built on Chinese grid-pattern lines. Unlike Nara, it was to remain the official capital for more than a thousand years.  

  At Heian the court was in many ways to reach its zenith(頂点). In its refinement(洗練), its artistic pursuits(追求), and its etiquette(礼儀作法), it rivaled(匹敵する) courts of any time and place in the world. However, the more refined it became, the more it lost touch with reality, and that was to cost it dearly(高価な).

  The Heian court gave the world some of its finest early literature. For example, around 1004 the court lady Murasaki Shikibu wrote the world’s first novel, Tale of Genji. Many of its thousand pages reveal a life of exquisite(非常に優れた) refinement.




 In 1185 Minamoto no Yoritomo was the most powerful figure(人物) in the land. However, he did not seek the throne(帝位) for himself or his descendants(子孫), nor seek to destroy it. Instead, he sought from the court legitimacy(正統性) of his power through the title ‘barbarian()-subduing() great() general(将軍)’, generally abbreviated(縮める) to shogun. This was granted to him in 1192.  

  The particular nature of the relationship between legitimacy (formal authority) and actual power in Japan is an ongoing(延々と続く) feature of the nation’s history and society. Typically, a high authority does not wield(掌握する) a similarly high degree of actual power, but instead confers(授与する) legitimacyoften in the form of some title, and often under pressureon those who hold actual power and claim to use it in the name of that higher authority. The fact that the higher authority is the guarantor(保証人) of the power-holder’s legitimacy gives the higher authority a certain guarantee of protection from the power-holder. The recipient(受け取る人) of legitimacy may in turn confer legitimacy on those below them, and so on. It is in one sense a diffusion(分散) of responsibility, and in another a hierarchical ordering of authority. Yoritomo provides an especially clear example of the process.

 What was also new was that the core of the government was now a single lord(君主)-vassal(家臣) group, spread rather thinly(薄く) throughout the nation. Yoritomo rewarded his loyal vassals with estates and offices such as ‘steward(地頭)’ and ‘protector(守護)’. They administered the provinces(地域) under their charge(責任を持つ) on the basis of local custom and military() house() laws(), rather than the centrally imposed legal() codes(体系) of the previous ritury? system. They also collected dues(租税) for the bakufu, and were entitled to retain a portion of the product of the land for themselves.  Through this system Yoritomo exercised a relatively direct control over much of Japan, and also further eroded(侵食する) the revenue of the noble court families and central government.