By what means did the Fujiwara dominate court politics during the Heian period?
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The Fujiwara clan was started during the famous Asuka period and was one of the biggest and powerful families among four others which had a lot of influence on Japanese politics during the Heian period, between 794 and 1185 (Morton and Olenik 36). Even before the Heian period, the early descendants of the Fujiwara family were also very dominant in matters of politics and were equally well known in courts of emperors during this early period of the Nara era.
Fujiwara clan dominated the court’s politics for two major reasons; first, the clan subjugated politics of Japanese courts through what was referred to as “the monopoly of regent positions” ((Morton and Olenik 36). Indeed, most of the noble positions were reserved for family members, which enabled them to control all aspects of government activities. For instance, the princess of the Fujiwara family occupied the position of the highest ministerial rank of the majestic court which was known as Kampaku, while the young family members dominated the country’s courts as well as the royal court which was known as Sessho (Morton and Olenik 36).
The Second reason behind their dominance was because of the wide integration with the families of the imperial successors. The Fujiwara family designed a system through which most of the sons belonging to this clan wedded the daughters of the royal family (Bookrags.com). This ensured that their clan was strong and well-integrated within the families that had power which enabled them to access powerful positions through these interrelationships. During this period of Fujiwara dominance, the country was characterized by great innovations in the field of art and culture which made it famous; conversely, the end of this supremacy was marked and brought down by an increase in population size that eventually resulted in competition for resources such as food which triggered a scramble for power.
How did continental (Chinese and Korean) culture impact the formation of a centralized Japanese polity?
To understand the impact of these countries in the way that they impacted the politics of Japan it is important to understand the Nara period which comes before the Heian period. During this time the Japanese culture was greatly urbanized because they engaged and copied most of their behaviors from the Chinese cultural, political, and artistic values. It is during this period that Japan acquired cultural and artistic exchange from the two neighboring countries namely; Korea and China in the following ways (Bookrags.com)
First of all, the reign of the Nara period attributed the growth and development of the Japanese administrative system to a “strong central Japanese state” especially after the emergence of the imperial court in the capital of Nara (Alsintl.com). There was a lot of influence from these two countries especially from the Chinese who greatly influenced Japanese governance. Typical examples of influence during this time includes the making of the Japanese legal code (701) which was based on the Chinese legal system which appealed to the Japanese authority (Alsintl.com). Also, the well-developed Chinese culture and art especially the written literature was also influential to the Japanese which is reflected in their writings like poetry (Alsintl.com).
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Additionally, the acceptance of the Chinese governance methods by Japan was another influence that negatively impacted the Japanese economy since it exempted private estates from paying duty (Alsintl.com). It was also dominant in Japan during the Heian period and was exercised by the Fujiwara clan and other royal families. Among other cultural influences that China caused to Japan was the “Chinese Han dynasty” which was also adopted by the Japanese (Alsintl.com). This greatly influenced their political and governance systems and resulted in practices like Buddhism which was later to become a common religion. Eventually, the Han Dynasty gave rise to the new political system that reigned for a long time under a group of “Yamoto rulers” (Alsintl.com).
Bookrags.Com. “Heian Period”, 2009. Web.
Alsintl.Com. “Japanese”. Accredited Language Service. 2011. Web.
Morton, Scott. and Olenik, Kenneth. “Japan: Its history and culture.” New York: McGraw-Hill Company. 2005. Print.