Transactions of the Japan Academy
Online ISSN : 2424-1903
Print ISSN : 0388-0036
The Tenno Society, the Buke Society, and the Industrial Society
──An Analysis of the Three Stages in the History of Japanese Society──
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2017 Volume 71 Issue 3 Pages 137-


    This is a study on the history of Japanese society based on three divisions, namely, the Ancient Stage, the Middle Stage, and the Modern Industrial Stage.
    As a country, Japan emerged during the fifth century under the name Yamato Chotei. Previously, it consisted of many small Uji and Kabane communities without the integrated and central control of Tenno domination under the name of “shiseisei”(氏姓制). It consisted of many small competing local areas, that fought incessantly between them.
    The important emperor Tenji Tenno(626–671), leader of the Taika-no-Kaisin , made a significant break to the traditional institution of the “shisei-sei” by introducing a new body that became known as “Handenshuju-sei”(班田収授制 in 律令制) in the year 645. The end result was the founding in 710 of the new capital Heijo-kyo in the city of Nara under the reign of Empress Genmei Tenno .
    However, the city of Nara was greatly affected by the sudden decision in 794 taken by Emperor Kanmu Tenno to make the city of Kyoto the country's capital. Although some may hold the view that there were similarities between the neighboring cities of Nara and Kyoto, they were dissimilar in most respects . In the city of Nara, land was divided under the measures of the nationalization plan. Conversely, in the city of Kyoto, land was divided according to measures of privatization. Also, in Nara the state drafted the Handenshuju plan, while in Kyoto there were no such plans.
    The result of these policies was that in Kyoto the land was owned by the wealthy, large religious institutions, and Buke families. In Nara, however, under Ritsryosei , common people were taxed so heavily that they escaped from the city to the countryside.
    As the premature Tenno continued to expand, it became necessary for them to be covered by “Sessho” and “Kampaku” until the Tenno matured. The growing Tenno needed such support, which led Sessho and Kampaku to acquire additional influence and power.
    The first Buke Society began in Kamakura Bakufu under Minamoto Yoritomo. Yoritomo married Masako of the Hojo family, and she was an able and strong woman. After the death of her husband, she became the head of the Kamakura Bakufu .
    Shugo and Jito were both Buke, and Yoritomo appointed them as the lords of the manor(荘園領主). However, Chotei and Bakufu were at odds with each other. Bakufu was stronger than Chotei in terms of military might, when they battled in 1221, in what became known as Jokyu-no-Ran, Bakufu was victorious. After the Jokyu-no-Ran, the large Mongolian Army attacked Japan on two occasions(Bun-ei no-Eki, 1274, and Koan-no-Eki, 1281), but were defeated each time by the Japanese defenders. However, the cost of these battles was great, and the Japanese army found itself impoverished.
    Another important event resulted from the dispute over the succession of the Tenno throne between the two lines consisting of the Jimyoin-party and the Daigakuji-party. Godaigo Tenno of the Daigakuji-party wanted to gain the crown by overthrowing the Bakufu. However, Godaigo was unsuccessful and this led him to create the “Nancho”(South Side).
    Meanwhile, Ashikaga Takauji, who supported the “Hokucho”(North Side) of Kyoto, kept to his own side leaving Chotei divided between North and South. As a result, Kamakura Bakufu was ruined, and Muromachi Bakufu was rebuilt by Ashikaga Takauji ]in Kyoto as the second Bakafu.
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