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Lecture 2

History 2605E Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Taika Reform, Temporary Capital, Nihon Shoki

Course Code
HIS 2605E
Carl Young

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Japanese History Week 2
BP before present (before 2012, aka 4000 BP = 4000 years before 2012)
“Land of the Rising Sun”
(Ni, hon = sun, origin)
Closeness with Korea will play role in shaping Japanese state
A lot of people moving from Korea into Japan, introducing new technologies and cultures
- Japanese now seen as homogenous, but likely of mixed origins
- Japanese language similar in grammar to Korean, but some vocab and sound system similar to
some Southeast Asian languages
o Very different from European languages, but also different from language of its
o Written backwards compared to European languages
o Simple sound system; difficult language to learn but pronunciation is not an issue
o Most words end in a vowel
- Ainu hairy northerners
o Japanese, like most east Asians, do not have hairy bodies compared to western groups
and Europeans
- Jomon culture up to 3rd century BC
o Stone age: didn’t have metal, but had pottery, used stone and wood, mainly a hunter-
gatherer society
o Pottery was very elaborate, hand-made, no potter’s wheel
o Hint of religion as well: no writings, but figurines found, most likely involved with
spiritual beliefs
o Put emphasis on big hips and big breasts in female figures, and emphasis on genitalia in
male figures (fertility)
Yayoi Culture (post 3rd Century BC)
- Very different from Jomon Culture
o Possibly an invasion or refugees created another culture
o This culture begins producing things made of metal (discovery of iron)
- Close cultural contacts between Korea and Japan
- Construction of mound tombs after 3rd Century BC
o Made for important people
o Wooden chamber, put the dead bodies in large jars/coffins, with things such as
weapons or jewellery, put large amount of dirt on top
o More dirt/larger the mound = more important the dead person was
- Known as kofun (old tombs)
- Originally, important people who died would want their servants in the afterlife, so they would
make graves for them there as well
o Eventually they realized that this was a huge waste of humanity so they began making
clay figures instead (Terracotta Soldiers in China)
o Originally figures were larger, but over time they became smaller
- Pottery was not as decorated and was more simpler, but was stronger and sturdier
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