– Japan is an island country: protected by the water from outside invasions
– The sea provided fish & created sailors (and pirates too)
– China deeply influenced Japan
– Iron work, Confucian philosophies, Buddhism
– Chinese immigrated bringing pottery & intermarrying
– In the 6th & 7th centuries Japan modeled a central government on China
– Civil service based on merit, not birth
– rulers based on families and clans (like China) – each rising to greater influence from time to time
– emperors can trace their roots back to the first emperor (even today)
– emperors carry out ceremonial & religious duties
– similar to feudal Europe & separate from the strong central government of China
– clans often struggled against one another (civil war)

– “commander in chief”
– ruled on behalf of the emperor
– military society (virtues of loyalty, endurance, & bravery)
– warriors bound themselves to lords
– warriors (samurai) were most respected (next to the lords) in Japan’s feudal society
– belief of military superiority
– held off two Mongol attacks (second was destroyed by a Kamikaze “divine wind” that sank the fleet)

– the way of the kami (divine) or the way of the gods
– it was a tribal religion, not a state one
– Individual clans, which were simultaneously political, military, and religious units, worshipped a single kami in particular which was regarded as the founder or principal ancestor of the clan
– Kami first of all refers to the gods of heaven, earth, and the underworld, of whom the most important are creator gods
– Kami also are all those things that have divinity in them to some degree: the ghosts of ancestors, living human beings, particular regions or villages, animals, plants, landscape—in fact, most of creation, anything that might be considered wondrous, magnificent, or affecting human life
– all Shinto involves some sort of shrine worship
– Shinto shrines are usually a single room (or miniature room), raised from the ground, with objects placed inside
– One worships a Shinto shrine by “attending” it, that is, devoting oneself to the object worshipped, and by giving offerings to it: anything from vegetables to great riches
– Shinto prayer (Norito ) is based on koto-dama , the belief that spoken words have a spiritual power; if spoken correctly, the Norito would bring about favorable results