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Feudal Japan

Ancient Japan
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•What is Japan all
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Where is Japan?
Japan is an archipelago in Asia.
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Emperor Jimmu was the
first Emperor of Japan –
 According to Japanese
mythology, he is a
descendant of the sun
goddess Amaterasu
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The Emperor Loses Power
• By the 1100s, the emperor of Japan’s
power was greatly weakened by civil war.
• Noble families refused to pay taxes to the
emperor. They grew rich and bought
much land.
• Eventually, one noble family grew more
powerful than any other.
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Noble families did not want to obey
the emperor. They wanted power.
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• A system of feudalism, similar to that
found in European feudalism, arose in
• In a feudal society, land is exchanged for
military service.
• Japanese lords gave away some of their
land to other people in exchange for
loyalty and military service.
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The Shogun
• The leader of Japan’s most
powerful family - Minamoto
Yorimoto forced the
emperor to appoint him
• The word “Shogun” means
“great general”.
• For the next 700 years,
powerful shoguns
governed Japan.
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Daimyo were great
Landowners of feudal
 They were the
highest nobles
next to the Shogun.
 The Daimyo had to
obey the Shogun and
Provide military
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The Samurai
• To provide military
protection for their lands,
Japanese daimyo
recruited samurai.
• Samurai were Japanese
• Samurai had to provide
military service and obey
the Daimyo and Shogun.
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Code of Bushido
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If a samurai lost his honor, he had
to commit ritual suicide or seppuku.
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Questions for Reflection:
• Compare and contrast Japanese and
European feudalism.
• Why did the Japanese emperor lose his
• Who was the Shogun and why was he
• What was the relationship between the
Daimyo and the Shogun?
• Who were Samurai and what was the
Code of Bushido?
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