By Andrew Gordon
A chinese language announcing has it that "each step adjustments the mountain." Likewise, each one significant flip in historical past adjustments how we comprehend what went earlier than: as Japan now maintains in an monetary funk that yet didn't wipe out the "economic miracle" of the postwar interval, we have to reconsider our histories once more to provide an explanation for the origins of prosperity, the evolution of what it capacity to be eastern, and the roots of obstinacy. Gordon's clearheaded, readable, and inquisitive narrative, geared toward scholars and critical normal readers, accomplishes this job molto con brio. Head of Harvard's Reischauer Institute of jap reviews, Gordon tells a sweeping and provocative tale of Japan's political, monetary, social, and cultural innovations of its modernity in evolving foreign contexts, incorporating within viewpoints and debates. past settling on the nationwide levels (feudalism, militarism, democracy), the writer innovatively emphasizes how exertions unions, cultural figures, and teams in society (especially ladies) were affected over the years and feature answered. steered either for normal libraries and for expert collections.
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Extra info for A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present
And have seen no ﬁghting for ﬁve or six generations. Their military skills have disappeared, and . . 8 The city merchants were little happier. The shogun and leading daimyo¯ had the political clout to simply repudiate their debts. They did this with fair regularity. Mer chants had little recourse but to swallow the loss and issue new loans. Of equal concern, upstart rural producers were competing effectively with the ofﬁcially certiﬁed urban purveyors of goods and services. One 1789 complaint comes from the city of Okayama, a castle town with about twenty thousand commoners and a sharply de clining population: Commerce in this city has steadily declined and many small merchants ﬁnd themselves in great difﬁculty.
The main outcaste group was called eta (literally, “much ﬁlth,” today a pejorative term). This was a hereditary group of unclear origins. Its members lived in scattered communities, where they performed tasks deemed unclean by mainstream society, such as burials, executions, and the handling of animal carcasses. The outcastes also included criminals assigned to a separate category of “nonpersons” (hinin), who were forced to subsist on jobs such as ragpicking. In Edo in the 1600s, the entertainment quarters of brothels, theaters, and restau rants developed into a ﬂourishing district called Yoshiwara, near the shogun’s castle.
They deeply resented the success of wealthier farmers who took advantage of their position to charge high interest on loans and proﬁt at the borrower’s expense. In this social and economic world, one also found important tensions between prescribed roles and evolving practice for men and women. The orthodox ideals of Tokugawa society held that women should be kept ignorant and in the kitchen. The classical statement of this attitude was a Chinese-inspired text called The Greater Learning for Females.