HI340 Japan:Modernization of a Traditional People

for FA 2006

Printer Friendly

Mission Statement: The mission of Park University, an entrepreneurial institution of learning, is to provide access to academic excellence, which will prepare learners to think critically, communicate effectively and engage in lifelong learning while serving a global community.

Vision Statement: Park University will be a renowned international leader in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global society.


HI 340 Japan:  Modernization of a Traditional People


FA 2006 HO


Miriani, Ronald


Professor of History

Office Location

Mackay 30.5

Office Hours

MF 12:00-12:25, 3:05-4:00; TR 12:50-2:25

Daytime Phone

Park Phone (816) 584-6368

Other Phone

Home Phone (816) 746-1128



Semester Dates

August 21 - December 15, 2006

Class Days


Class Time

11:35 - 12:50 PM

Credit Hours



W. Scott Morton, Japan: Its History and Culture.  4th ed. (2004).  T. R. Reid, Confucius Lives Next Door (1999) 

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
Career Counseling - The Career Development Center (CDC) provides services for all stages of career development.  The mission of the CDC is to provide the career planning tools to ensure a lifetime of career success.
Park Helpdesk - If you have forgotten your OPEN ID or Password, or need assistance with your PirateMail account, please email helpdesk@park.edu or call 800-927-3024
Resources for Current Students - A great place to look for all kinds of information http://www.park.edu/Current/.

Course Description:

Japanese are remarkable in combining traditional ways with modern industrial necessities. The first half-semester is a study of traditional Japan-Shinto, Buddhism, feudalism, samurai, tea ceremony and aristocratic aesthetics. The second half-semester traces industrialization in the 20th century and the Japanese persistent pursuit of harmony in all aspects of life. 3:0:3



To introduce students to the history of one of the world's great contemporary powers, i.e. to provide an understanding of Japanese behavior today; to provide students with a very successful case study of modernization of a feudal people; to introduce modern students to one of the most traditional cultures that history has recorded and to one of the world's most fascinating people.


Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Critique religion in Japan: Shinto and Buddhism;
  2. Identify the role of the emperor in Japanese history;
  3. Evaluate the aristocratic culture that dominated Japanese life from the 6th to the 19th century;
  4. Delineate distinctive Japanese aesthetics demonstrated in art forms;
  5. Assess Japan's policies towards the West and its institutions before 1860 that led to the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and Japan's rise as an industrial world power;
  6. Examine Japan's foreign policy during the modernization period, 1868-1945, and especially World War II;
  7. Discuss the factors that led Japan to its amazing recovery in the 1950s and its present success in the world marketplace; and
  8. Recognize the problems confronting the Japanese people today.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes
  1. traditional characteristics and interests of the Japanese people
  2. Japan's response to foreign cultures over the last two millennia
  3. the unique way in which the Japanese modernized themselves
  4. the factors that pushed Japan into WW II
  5. the factors that led Japan to its amazing economic (and political?) recovery after WWII
Core Assessment:

Class Assessment:


There will be few lectures, much discussion of assigned reading, many videos picturing Japanese life and culture, one field trip, student presentation of topics of interest, and a Japanese dinner in lieu of a final exam.



Students are expected to complete all reading; to attend all classes and participate in discussion; to take three or four short examinations, one of which will not be counted for the final grade; to write a term paper and make an oral presentation on the same subject.



Attendance 10%; participation 10%; notes on videos 10%; short papers, 20%, exams, 30%, term paper, 20%.  Extra credit is available for students who wish to attend concerts and lectures related to Japanese culture. 


Late Submission of Course Materials:

Work that is submitted after the due date shall be reduced by one grade if submitted within a week.  No work will be accepted after that without previous permission of the instructor.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:




Reading: T. R. Reid, Confucius Lives Next Door

8/22 Introduction to Course:Japan Today: The Country and Its People (36 min.);

8/24 Reid, chapters 1-2 Manners and Customs  (25 min.)

8/29 Reid, chapters 3-4 Dick Cavett's Island Doctor

8/31 Reid, chapters 5-7 The Inland Sea

9/5 Reid, chapters 8-10.  Guests?


Pretest: How would you characterize the Japanese people (without any special knowledge of them)?  What questions does Reid raise about the Japanese people that you, or we, should explore?  Describe Japanese geography and point out how it would affect the people living within it. (There will be a map quiz.)



Reading: Morton, chapters 1-2.


Discussion: The Japanese as primitive people and their contact with the civilized Chinese.  Shinto--the spirits of Japan. Jamon--primitive art.  The great myth of the origins of Japan and its relationship to the emperor. 



Term Paper Proposal due 9/19

Reading: Morton, chapters 3-4.

Field Trip: Nelson-Atkins Museum for Chinese/Japanese Art

Film: The Meeting of the Gods and Buddha


Discussion: The nature of Buddhism and why it seemed to fit Japan better than it did China and India, where it came from.  How Japanese blend Buddhism with Shinto. 


IV.  THE IMPERIAL COURT AT KYOTO (HEIAN), 794-1185. [9/21-26-28]

Reading: Morton, chapters 5-6.


Discussion: The nobility play, ignoring the country, an interesting contrast with the mythical court of King Arthur.  The Fugiwara dominate the emperor.  The Tendai and Tantric [Shingon] Buddhism, or Buddhism reduced to magic.  Literature: Kokinshu [Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems]; the courtly ideal of miyabi; Kagero Nikki [Gossamer Years]--a woman's diary; Ise Monogatari [Tales of Ise]--collection of poems; Genji Monogatari [Tale of Genji]--heroic legend in the European medieval tradition; Makura no Soshi [Pillow Book]--witty collection of observations on court life.  Architecture and furnishings--Japanese domestic sensibility.  The Tale of the Heike [Taira], compiled about 1250, describes the war.


V.  MEDIEVAL JAPAN: KAMAKURA PERIOD (1185-1336) [10/3-5]

Reading: Morton, chapter 7.

Films: The Way of Tea; Japanese Ink Painting; Calligraphy

Madama Butterfly is being performed at the Lyric Theater, Sept. 30th-Oct. 8th

The annual Japanese Festival in Kansas City at JCCC October 7-8.


            Discussion:  Feudalism in Japan.  Courtiers become mere aesthetes.  The government created by Minamoto Yoritomo at Kamakura resembles William the Conqueror in England.  Every samurai receives his title from him.  Yoritomo has his own nobles and his own justice system.  The shogun has his own council of advisors (the bafuku). Development of the daimyos, hereditary regional nobility/war-lords.  But when Yoritomo dies there is chaos and the Hojo family runs the Shogun as the Fujiwara ran the emperor.  Confusing!   Two emperors rebel against the shoguns.  At one point there are two emperors living in separate capitals.  The only great event of the period is the Mongol invasions of 1274 and 1281.  This is one of the great moments in Japanese history.  The Japanese saved from the Mongols by a kamikaze.

Ink painting in Japan developed along lines suggested by other art forms: simplicity and emotional content are both prominent.

Outstanding literary works include The New Kokinshu, compiled about 1205.  And Yoshida Kenko's Tsurezuregusa [Essays in Idleness]--a witty and nostalgic longing for the good old days.  Development of the tea ceremony.

The most common theme of the Japanese films available to American audiences is the samurai warrior and the peasants who supported him.  A study of samurai films would be appropriate.


VI.  LATE MEDIEVAL PERIOD (1336-1615) [10/10-12]

Norton, chapters 8-10.

Films: Noh (Japan's oldest theater)

             Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954), set in 16th century Japan.


Discussion:  Onin War 1467-77 destroys the great daimyos and leaves smaller but stable noble holdings.  Three nobles of three families gradually re-united Japan near the end of the 15th century: Nobunaga, Toyotomi and Tokugawa.  The second, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98) rose from the peasantry.  Civil War was ended in the great battle of Sekigahara in 1600, which led to the Tokugawa shogunate.  Nobunaga encouraged Christianity, the latter two nobles oppressed it.  Namban culture: the building of castles, symbols of authority, by the nobility.  Influence of Western-style painting.  Japan invades Korea, unsuccessfully. The Muromachi shogun Yoshimasa (1436-90) is a great patron of the arts but a non-existent soldier.


Fall Break October 15-22



Morton, chapters 11-12.

Films: Bunraku and Kabuki Theater

                        Women in ukiyo-e

Music: Traditional Japanese tunes, then and now.


Discussion: Tokugawa insists on seclusion of Japan.  Shogun dominates lower nobility.  Samurai and peasants continue. Genroku cultural epoch--late 17th and early 18th centuries.  Peace, literacy and prosperity.  Joy in the ephemeral life.   Tokugawa supports Confucian studies, discourages Buddhism.  Merchants create their own culture.  Ihara Saikaku and the novels of the "floating world."   Chickamatsu Monzaemon and bunraku theater.  Kabuki theater develops after 1600;  Matsuo Basho (1644-94) create the 17 syllable haiku.  Wood block prints create pictures of the "floating world," called ukiyo-e, whose principal artist is Hishikawa Moronobu (1618-94).  Art of flower arrangement develops.  Ikebana (flower arranging) and bonsai (midget trees) become popular art forms. Yamaga Soko was the first Japanese to insist on the superiority of the nation to the Chinese.  Revival of Shinto.  Japanese interest in Western science--rangaku.  Shiba Kokan (1738-1818), Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) mastered western artistic techniques.  Japanese admired their own culture, but feared the power of the West.



Reading: Morton, chapter 13-14. 

Films: Munira's Diary (1990)

                        Fine Ceramics--The Magic Materials (1988)

                        Yamaguchi: The Dawn of Modern Japan (1990)

Opera: Gilbert & Sullivan, The Mikado


Discussion: Westerners demand that the Japanese open their ports to trade and honor international law.  The Japanese response is to end feudalism and create a central state responsible to the emperor.  The opening of Japan had considerable impact on the West, where many people became fascinated by Japanese culture.  Japanese are just as fascinated by Western (esp. British) culture.  Imperialism in Japan starts out as aping of the British Empire.  A good research topic would be biographical study of Westerners who visited Japan and elected to stay (more-or-less) permanently.

Topics: Commodore Perry and the invaders.  Treaties with the barbarians.  End of feudalism.  Rise of the Emperor.  Land tax & military reform.  Machinery of government.  The constitution.

            In this new era Japanese dealt with overpopulation by sending contract workers to Hawaii and California where they were to be agricultural workersBthey were famous for dairy and rice farming.  Japanese-Hawaiian cowboys.

Discussion:  In this period Japan developed an effective industry and military machine.  It appears to develop democratic institutions.  Unfortunately the industrialization of Japan may have led the Japanese into imperialism and militarism.  Why?

Topics: Rights of foreigners in Japan.  New Industrial system.  Japanese Abroad.  The Party System.  Japanese Independence Asserted.  Russo-Japanese War.  Japan in WW I.  Japanese Influence on Western Art.



Reading: Morton, chapter 15.

Film: Tora! Tora! Tora!  We will not watch Leonardo in Pearl Harbor!

                        Black Rain (a subtitled Japanese film about life after the Bomb)


Discussion:  Your reading gives you the Japanese side of the East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and World War II.  What is their view of this struggle?

Topics: Japan's "needs:" Korea, China, Manchuria.  The military take over.  The Co-Prosperity Sphere.  The Rape of Nanking, Pearl Harbor. Occupation of Southeast Asia.  The Emigrants: Japanese-Americans.  War with the United States.  Battle of Midway.  Iwo Jima.  The Atom Bomb.



Reading: Morton, chapter 16.


Discussion: In the Meiji period the Japanese had been very open to foreign (especially English) influence.  How did the Japanese respond to American occupation?  Did they learn anything?  Has Japanese development since World War II been different in kind than its development in the Meiji period?  If the United States were occupied by a foreign power, would you expect the same level of openness?



Reading: Morton, chapter 17.

Term Paper due 11/28 (to be returned for corrections on the 30th)

Film: Up from the Ashes.  How Japan Achieved Its Postwar Recovery (40 minutes?).  Produced by the Foreign Ministry.  It covers 1945-1970 with lots of good facts & charts, but it heroizes the Japanese government and does not even mention McArthur!  Godzilla, a political protest against pollution in the form of a film. 





Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87-89

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "W".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89-90

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .

Additional Information:

Guide for Term Papers in History

Park University, 2003



For Japanese history, spring 2005, a proposal is due September 19th; paper due 11/28—meeting after Thanksgiving.  Re-writes due 12/13 of final exam week. 


In order to improve the quality of term papers and to avoid last minute disasters, please follow these suggestions.

First, submit a proposal, which provides:

a) a subject; b) your interest in the subject; c) a bibliography; d) a title?

No term paper can be accepted without an oral report.

A term paper for Japanese history should be about 8-10 pages in length.  An "A" paper has a sufficient bibliography to support your narrative or argument, and follows one of the official guides that are available in the bookstore and elsewhere.

A bibliography should contain at least seven sources, at least two of which are not internet!

Term papers are typed, and double-spaced.  (Single-spaced papers are more difficult to read and don't leave me room to write notes to you.)

I am happy to read drafts of papers a week or more before the due date to give you the benefit of suggestions.

"A" papers explain by the use of footnotes (endnotes, any kind of notes) where specific ideas come from.  Lesser papers (somewhere around "C") are essays that merely attach a bibliography suggesting the scope of the whole paper.

"A" papers will open with a paragraph that explains the purpose of the paper or make a thesis statement.

"A" papers end with a conclusion about the subject.

Between the introduction and the conclusion papers should move smoothly from one idea to another, or one set of facts to another, giving the reader a sense that you haven't forgotten what your subject is.

If you would like to discuss your paper with others, acknowledge this on a dedication page as published authors do.  Specific ideas you receive from friends, like those from printed sources, should be acknowledged.

All papers should be checked for spelling and grammar, by your mother, your cousin and spell-check.

Oral reports are quite short, about 10 minutes, and need to be well-organized.  It often helps to support your oral report with slides, clips of film or music, etc.  Reading your paper will not be an acceptable oral report. A one page outline & notes on the lectern should be sufficient.  If you have problems standing before a group of people, we can arrange a substitute for this process.   


This material is protected by copyright and can not be reused without author permission.

Last Updated:8/22/2006 3:59:00 PM