Asian History

Date: Sep 24, 2020
Category: Informative

Kamakura period in ancient Japan was a period of fundamental political changes that changed the economic and social structures of Japanese society. The era was between twelfth and fourteenth centuries. However, the most identified changes are the formation of imperial warriors known as the Kamakura bakufu. They served as a political and military arm of the warrior society. The old ruling elite and clergy in the capital were forced to compromise and allow the bakufu to exercise police and military powers. The aim of the bakufu was to maintain internal peace and security. The kamakura bakufu was a coalition of powerful warrior families. The era of kamakura in Japanese history lasted for seven hundred years of which the Warriors dominated the political and military power of ancient Japan. Scholars view the Kamakura period as the time of transition from single ruling elite to dual shared rulership. During that time warriors experimented and learned the methods of ruling and judicial process. Furthermore, they solidified their new identity by learning the economic policies and their position as the ruling elite at the helm of sociopolitical hierarchy. Although the bakufu ability and authority have not been fully studied, it is noted its existence depended on the acceptance of the role of the bakufu families as a coalition of warriors known as the bakufu housemen. The thesis will  discuss the ways in which literary works, rituals, and Buddhist teachings contributed to the formation of the bushi's distinct identity as a new ruling elite during the Kamakura period.

 

The bushi due to commercial arts developed a strategic military that was skilled, helping in administration. In the early ages of Japan, military matters were imperative. Before Kamakura period, there was Emperor Temmu in 672. He indicated in his rule when he stated “in a government military matters are the essential thing” During his rule he ordered all the local men who were healthy and able to fight (kuni no miyatsuko) be brought to him by the capital aristocracy. He later confiscated the political strongmen weapons. Temmu government organized production by the local government then households. As early as the 7th century the first martial government of Japan was forming. According to Farris, the late 7th and 8th centuries saw prioritization of military affairs by successive administrations. They, however, relied on strongmen and peasants who were conscripted to fight whenever they were under attack. By then China was looked like the most advanced nation on the continent in the early 8th century. 

Some of the ritual works of the Japanese included the laws that were set. It contributed to the development of bushi during the era. Tang China influenced Japan to set comprehensive laws known as the Taiho codes. These were laws that laid out the framework for political, social and economic institutions. However, the importance of this study is that everyone had to undergo periodic census, receive a piece of land do farming and other activities and be liable to pay tax and finally the most important was to be included in the military service. There were no separate warriors but just peasants and other workers drafted by the state to collect taxes. agrees that late 7th and early 8th century there was no centralized form of government thus the bus did not exist. However, 719, 17 years after the development of the Taiho system the conscription of commoners ended. The court decided to reduce the provincial officers, militia, and soldiers. The construction of new capitals, barbarian wars from the northeast weighed in heavily on the state expenditures forcing to end the conscription. Also, new epidemic outbreaks, poor farming, and misuse of soldiers almost led the government to bankruptcy. In 1792, they abolished the law drafting peasants into the military. 

The commercial arts and culture helped the bushi in creating a system of governance. A new system was created a week later. The system consisted of martial specialist called Strong Fellows (Kondei) authorized by the political leaders. The men and brothers of the district magistrates’ class became the kondei. These men provide leadership to the Taiho armies. It was another turning point for Japanese military where they opted to concentrate on privately acquired skills of the partially talented.  According to Friday 1992, the court decided to have train in secret and provide war accessories to professional warriors. However, hired mercenaries monopolized the applications of arm throughout medieval Japan. In others words between the 9th and 10th centuries are believed to be the start of the samurai. Dwellers saw the opportunity to work in government instead of bare skills at arms. They saw service in the in the capital city under a powerful aristocrat. The gradual emergence of professional warriors fighting in the countryside and securing the city was known as Bushi.

Bushi teachings was important to ensure that the men available for work are skilled. Mainly the teaching was done by monks in temples. It consisted of new old Buddhism (shinkyu ryo bukkyo) which measured pre-Kamakura Buddhists schools, Tendai, Shingon and the six Nara schools during the Kamakura period.Nara Buddhism established from the Chinese culture and contributed for the elite. There were two Buddhists Saicho and Kukai. They underwrote temples and turned to religion for the protection of the state. All of the states usually known as provinces had monestary and nunnery with the main purpose of ensuring religious affairs of the people are enhanced. Japanese had two different monks that were around, Saicho and Kukai  returned from China Emperor Kammu supported them to establish temples.. While Kukai accepted anyone irrespective of their background, as long as one is prepared to follow the martial teachings. Monks trained from Enryakuji went on to form their sects which include Pure Land in relation to Japanese Buddism. Kukai emphasized on  rituals and direct coordination teachings from a skilled master to rather than any particular or different source. In contrast with Saicho, Kukai had mutual understanding and coordination with the Nara sect. He was also skilled in many things example engineering.  By the closing period of Heian period, the elite followed their form of Buddhism compared to the people in the provinces. The provinces were divided by culture helping the different classes of rulers to have an easy time. By clustering individuals according to provinces was paramount since it helped in organization. Thus, a bushi leader conversant with the commercial arts was given a certain province. The province was given according to the skill of commercial art. The higher an individual was the higher the chances he would get to join the ruling class. However, some of the ruling class were given the added advantage since of their royal class. A loyal leader was paramount to avoid coup and provide security in the provinces.

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Like any other community rituals and culture was important for the development of bushi as a society. The culture and rituals in fact, was imperative during the era. Religious ceremonies and practices took shape during Minamoto Yorimotos time. Religion was very paramount since the ruling class had the efficient control. The religion helped the process of ruling, the higher the faith the better the process of ruling. The ruling class was expected to attended all the functions, religious and cultural functions. However, during the study, there is little evidence to show religious interests in Kamakura period. It is wide believed that Yorimoto had a deep religious interest that was expressed in the way he conducted war against Taira. Furthermore, his choice of institutions and ceremonies while developing Kamakura warriors was evident. The religious interests were seen by his devotion to the Minamoto patron Hachiman and the Tsurugaoka Shrine. Also the preservation and protection of the Kannon and Lotus sutra shrine. The many shrines he preserved in Kamakura like Izu-Hakone, Ise, Kyoto, and Kumano. The ceremonies helped unifying the whole community. Most of the ruling class believed that the ceremonies helped in finding a common ground for the communities. It helped them relate to the people and understand their grievances. Though, commercial art strengthened unity and ruling more

Conclusion 

The majority of researchers agree that the formation of kamakura period was because of the militarization of Japan and religious involvement in the early Heian period. It happened between the 9th and 10th century when the social and political affairs of the community was developing. Furthermore, during the period, it was not a specific class that was established yet. It happened when Minamoto no Yorimoto established the first government that was military based known as the bakufu. Kamakura period ended up establishing the era of the bushi class in the 13th century. It, however, the lack of information on how bakufu examined law and conducted punishment to the individual who offended the authority. The judicial system worked in handling legal matters, however, it had no particular concept on bakufu enforced laws. In understanding the formation of kamakura bakufu period, one has to know that the rules then concentrated on military policies than any other policy areas. After a long war had called the Genpei war between Taira and Minamoto it was the start of another transition. The transition from imperial government to dual government marked the end of the Heian period.