Samurai William: The Adventurer Who Unlocked Japan.

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Samurai William: The Adventurer Who Unlocked Japan.

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:21 pm

claw789

His life inspired James Clavell's fictional Shogun novel and film. Pretty crazy, eh?

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Re: Samurai William: The Adventurer Who Unlocked Japan.

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:22 pm

Musashi

Yup, William Adams is the role model for John Blackthorn. Only thing I have to say where Clavell messed up was turning Hosokawa Gracia into Blackthorn's great love Mariko, that was not a very good idea (and frankly, quite an insult to this brave woman).

Clavell once said that he got the idea to write a "positive" story about the Japanese (Ratking I think was his first book, heavily influenced by his experiences as a POW in Japanese hands) and especially in this timeframe when he read some of the school notes of his kids, who were just dealing with this era in those days.

And yes, bathing is dangerous for your health! Ironic, how the Europeans often called other cultures "primitive" (just like they did it with the Japanese on occasion), while they themselves stank 10 miles against the wind :P

The different motivations are also interesting. The Spanish and Portuguese also tried to broadcast their religious believes (as usual) and, on the long run, would definitely have abused this to gain a strong foothold in Japan (they did it everywhere else, so why not there, too). The English and especialy the Dutch came for profit (and keep in mind that the Dutch, while extremely small in Europe as a country, were one of the most important sea powers for a very long time), and only for profit. Interestingly, the Japanese had no idea about the different Christian sects until William Adams came, which, again, proves that the Spanish and Portuguese really used their religion only to gain power and influence and nothing else. And it certainly explains why, especially, the old tanuki Tokugawa Ieyasu became wary about those Christians and eventually completely outlawed them (a move similar to the Counter Reformation in Europe, btw).

Anyway.

This book is a highly recommended read. I suggest ro read Shogun, too, and then draw comparisons between Clavell's fiction and the historic truth (I still think Clavell did a good job protraying the old badger as a cunning bastard, after all, that's what Ieyasu really was, a cunning old badger).

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Re: Samurai William: The Adventurer Who Unlocked Japan.

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:22 pm

Musashi

Yup, William Adams is the role model for John Blackthorn. Only thing I have to say where Clavell messed up was turning Hosokawa Gracia into Blackthorn's great love Mariko, that was not a very good idea (and frankly, quite an insult to this brave woman).

Clavell once said that he got the idea to write a "positive" story about the Japanese (Ratking I think was his first book, heavily influenced by his experiences as a POW in Japanese hands) and especially in this timeframe when he read some of the school notes of his kids, who were just dealing with this era in those days.

And yes, bathing is dangerous for your health! Ironic, how the Europeans often called other cultures "primitive" (just like they did it with the Japanese on occasion), while they themselves stank 10 miles against the wind :P

The different motivations are also interesting. The Spanish and Portuguese also tried to broadcast their religious believes (as usual) and, on the long run, would definitely have abused this to gain a strong foothold in Japan (they did it everywhere else, so why not there, too). The English and especialy the Dutch came for profit (and keep in mind that the Dutch, while extremely small in Europe as a country, were one of the most important sea powers for a very long time), and only for profit. Interestingly, the Japanese had no idea about the different Christian sects until William Adams came, which, again, proves that the Spanish and Portuguese really used their religion only to gain power and influence and nothing else. And it certainly explains why, especially, the old tanuki Tokugawa Ieyasu became wary about those Christians and eventually completely outlawed them (a move similar to the Counter Reformation in Europe, btw).

Anyway.

This book is a highly recommended read. I suggest ro read Shogun, too, and then draw comparisons between Clavell's fiction and the historic truth (I still think Clavell did a good job protraying the old badger as a cunning bastard, after all, that's what Ieyasu really was, a cunning old badger).
Dealing with the "scum of society" was something only the Fransicans did in Japan (I guess they really tried to do something they considered to be good). The Jesuits only dealt with the rich and powerful, which should not be a surprise, they were, pretty much, the Pope's personal SWAT team. The English never sent any misionaries in those days, as they, just like the Dutch, went for profit and to fight the Spanish. The Spanish, on the other hand, wanted a foothold, like they did it everywhere else (preferable a subjugated colony). There was even some sort of edict by the Spanish king (and I even think it was supported by the Pope) that granted them all land, explored or unexplored (quite absurd concept). Of course, tanuki Ieyasu was not really happy when he heard of this.

The Christians were a threat to the power of several daimyo, especially the latter two unifiers, and there mainly the old badger (which explains why he moved against them in such harsh ways). But well, considering that the Christian sects in Europe didn't really treat each other any better there's not really much difference. Apart from that, I would argue that an active Christian, or better said Catholic, foothold in Japan would have endangered the Tokugawa reign and, with that, would have endangered the 250 years of -more or less- peace (something that never happened in Europe, for example). They would have tried to move against the Tokugawa sooner or later, either by their own wish or by command from the European clergy.

It's similar to what happened when Japan was forced to open herself. Many were worried that Japan would face a similar fate as China, which was torn apart by the western powers. No surprise that Sonno Joi was popular at one time.

And well, dealing with sick people, etc, was forbidden by Shinto, since it would "pollute" you. Once you were polluted, you had to do a purifying ceremony and that took quite some time. For normal Shinto ceremonies this still applies today, it was one of the arguments used against Aiko becoming Empress, since women menstruate and that also "pollutes" them (same reason why miko can't do their duty on every day of the month).

There were even different "grades" of pollution.
Minor Pollution:
Attend a funeral
Eating meat
Speaking ill of or otherwise offending any kami
Present at any birth
Close proximity to death (i.e., a corpse), blood or disease
Any interference with agriculture/crops

Major Pollution:
Defiling a shrine
Contact with death (i.e., any corpse), blood or disease
Menstruation
Contracting a disease

For Shinto clergy this posed a problem.

It's different with the Budhist clergy. They don't have to be worried about pollution, that's why funerals are Buddhist. Outcasts, though, were outcasts, often not even considered to be human (considering the European society of those days, where really was the difference?).

Tokis-Phoenix wrote:
Hmm, i see where you are coming from and i totally agree- if the Japanese had not put their foot down on all these new religious sects, the welfare of the country as a whole would have probably turned for the worse, there were already major power struggles going on already between the feudal lords themselves, the last thing the country needed was more fuel for war and intolerance like religious struggles.

One thing i have been wondering about though, how did shintoism and buddhism tolerate each other (i really do not know much about their history together in Japan), and what were their views on all these new foreign religions in Japan?
Did they see such Religions as Christianity as a direct threat to the survival and prosperity of their own beliefs, or were they confident enough in their own power and hold on the people not to worry about these new religions :? ?

There was something else that crossed my mind. Christianity was also a threat for the Japanese caste system, simple as that. Though, that was the Christianity preached by the Fransciscans, the one from the Jesuits was totally different and would have turned Japan into a feudal system like in Europe, with an extremely powerful Catholic church, instead of -at times- extremely powerful Buddhist leaders. Even though "powerful" doesn't really work there. The Pope could make actual politics by threatening people with excommunication, the inquisition and what not. Buddhists (or Shinto) had no power like that. You can't be excommunicated from Buddhism.

But, you just made a big mistake, you gave me an opportunity to ramble and bore everyone to death!

Too late! Here we go!

(note: what's going to come has been written as rules for an RPG, so it's from a 1500s/1600s setting, not really to be used on today's Japan)

RELIGION

Japan is the land of eight million kami. This doesn’t count the number of Buddhist deities added to the mix. The two main faiths are Shinto and Buddhism, but in the 1540s, Christianity was introduced to the country and has started to make slow headway in some areas.

The Japanese do not worship a single particular deity. One will not find a Japanese who only  worships Hachiman, or who only worships Amaterasu. The Japanese revere all the gods, holding them in equal esteem. Even priests at a particular shrine dedicated to a particular kami will pray to all the kami (and even, likely, the Buddhas). Only the staunchest of Buddhist and Shinto adherents -and these are few and far between, even among the ranks of the clergy- will worship only the deities of their particular faith. One might say that in terms of faith and adoration, Japanese are equal opportunity worshippers.

The only exception, if it may be called one, is that some individuals and families may hold a particular deity in special reverence. For example, Hachiman, the god of war, is the tutelary deity of the Minamoto clan. Nevertheless, they do not worship this one deity to the exclusion of others.

SHINTO

Shinto is the native religion of Japan, indigenous to and extant on the islands before the arrival of Buddhism from the continent. Shinto has no holy scripture, no moral precepts, no saints per se, no dogma, no concept of sin, no need for redemption or justification. It concerns itself more with man’s harmony with his universe and his fellow man. Part of this idea of harmony is the avoidance of pollution and the need for ritual purity. The various forces of nature themselves are deified. It is an agricultural religion, stressing fertility.

In Shinto, there are many things which cause pollution; any disease, contact with death, menstruation, and in some instances even sexual congress. Shinto promotes cleanliness and purity.

Before the Introduction of Buddhism, Shinto was inextricably linked with the Imperial family. The greatest shrines -Ise, Heian shrine in Kyoto, etc.- were governed by children of the emperor. After the introduction of Buddhism, Shinto became more structured and organized, and the imperial family became more linked with Buddhism, although they still supplied the clergy for the key imperial shrines.

Although the introduction of Buddhism in 552 AD caused years of strife between adherents of Shinto and the new faith, it wasn’t long before the two religions were living side by side in a kind of synchronistic existence.

Shinto is the worship of kami, or gods. Not all gods are personified deities like Amaterasu or Susano-o, however. An ancient tree might be a kami, as might be a raging river, or even a phenomenal typhoon (witness the kamikaze, or spirit wind, which saved Japan from the Mongols in 1281).

COSMOLOGY

The first god was Ame no Minakanushi, who remained motionless in the center of all creation. He was followed by Takamimusubi, Kamimusubi, Umashiashikabihiko, Kunitokotachi, Kunisatsuchi, Toyokunnu, Uichini, Suichini, Tsunukui, Ikukui, Otonochi, Otomabe, Omotaru, Izanagi, and Izanami.

Japan was created by the gods Izanagi and Izanami, who were husband and wife. They descended from heaven on a bridge called Ukibashi. Izanagi dipped his spear into the primordial ooze that was the Earth, and withdrew it. The drops that fell formed the island called Onokorojima, which became the home of the two gods.

At first, the result of their sexual union wasn’t more gods: it was islands (and no, we’re not making this up). The first eight island-children were Awaji, Shikoku, Kyushu, Oki, Sado, Ikishima, Tsushima, and Honshu. Next to come were Kibikojima, Azukishima, Oshima, Himeshima, Chikashima, and Futagoshima. The next children were indeed gods, and a nearly infinite number of them: the gods of water, of the winds, of trees, of mountains, thunder, food, rain, rivers, roads, fires, etc. The god of fires was the last child to be born. His birth caused the death of Izanami.

Izanagi, distraught, beheaded the child-god in revenge, and repaired to Yomotsu no Kuni (the Land of Shadow) to beg Izanami to return. The horror of Izanami’s decomposed body sent him back to the world of light. To purify himself from the pollution of death, Izanagi washed his garments, and from the washings came a further 26 gods. Amaterasu Omikami, the goddess of the sun and ancestor of the imperial line, was born from his left eye.

Tsukiyomi no Kami, god of the moon, was born from his right eye. From his nose was born Takehaya Susano-o no Mikoto (usually called Susano-o), god of the earth.

The earthly domain of Amaterasu, called Takamagahara, is the Yamato/Izumi region. Tsukiyomi’s realm of Unabara is identified as the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa) or Korea. Susano-o’s Amegashita is the Bizen/Bitchu area of Honshu.

After this, Izanagi retired to Hi no Waka no Miya. Amaterasu sent her grandson Ninigi no Mikoto to rule Japan, and Jinmu Tenno, the mythical first emperor, was Ninigi’s great-grandson. Susano-o went to visit Amaterasu in her domain, but his behavior so offended her that she retreated to a cave and vowed never to come out, plunging the world into dark. The gods held a conference to see what to do. One made a mirror, another fashioned jewels, and one made a rope; a goddess sang and danced at the cave entrance, enticing Amaterasu to the cave mouth to see what was going on. She saw her reflection in the mirror and stepped out of the cave, and the mouth was blocked by the rope so she couldn’t go back in. Susano-o was banished to Izumo for his naughty behavior.

THE PRIESTHOOD

Priests in general are called kannushi or shinkan. The head priest of a shrine is a guji, while his assistants (also priests) are called gon-guji. Lower level priests are called negi, and their assistants are called gon-negi. If there is only one priest at a shrine, he is still the guji.

Shinto clergy are strict vegetarians. Before any structure is built, the ground must be consecrated by a Shinto priest. Not to do so is believed to invoke the wrath of the gods, and guarantees bad luck for the new structure and those who dwell in it or use it. The service has been described in some sources as introducing the structure to the local deities.

Priests of smaller shrines may be only part-time clergy, living in the local area and even having an occupation as an artisan or craftsman of some sort, and officiating or serving in the shrine as required.

Clergy will celebrate births (but not until ritual purity has been re-established, weddings, building consecrations, etc. They will not celebrate a funeral, as that is beyond the pale of their purity-based, pollution-avoiding faith.

Priesthood is hereditary, although there is nothing to stop someone from a non-priestly family from becoming a priest.

Pollution

Minor Pollution:
Attend a funeral
Eating meat
Speaking ill of or otherwise offending any kami
Present at any birth
Close proximity to death (i.e., a corpse), blood or disease
Any interference with agriculture/crops

Major Pollution:
Defiling a shrine
Contact with death (i.e., any corpse), blood or disease
Menstruation
Contracting a disease

I'll spare you the all details with the shrines and the different big names among the kami... If needed you can find them here as well: http://www.pantheon.org/areas/mythology/asia/japanese/


BUDDHISM

The Buddhist faith, which is called Bukkyo or Butsudo in Japanese, was introduced to the empire from Korean contacts in the sixth century when a Korean king sent statuary and sutras (in Japanese, keiten) as a gift to the emperor Kinmei. Doshin and Tonei came shortly after and began preaching the new faith under the protection of Soga no Iname, who built the first temple at in Nara. The Mononobe and Nakatomi, staunch supporters of Shinto, opposed the new faith. A virtual civil war began and finally ended in 587 with the imperial recognition of Buddhism.

There are dozens of sects and sub-sects running the gamut of political and religious views. Devout Buddhists believe in reincarnation and karma. The endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth is man’s fate unless he can be freed from his karmic prison. The goal of the Buddhist is to lead a good life and be released from his woes and enter into Nirvana. To do this, one must reach  satori (enlightenment). The way in which one reaches enlightenment varies from sect to sect.

The sacred scriptures, or sutras, reveal the teachings of Buddha. One of the primary duties of the Buddhist priest is to spread the teachings of Buddha through both preaching to lay people and setting a good example by living according to Buddha’s law.

NOTE: Buddhism was very popular (possibly still is) among women (and there not only in Japan, but also in China, Korea and other Asian countries), because it promised them salvation from their daily suffering (keep in mind, when we're talking pre-1945 Japan that, especially during the feudal times, a woman was pretty much the property of her husband, and there especially among the common folk)

The Ten Precepts of Buddhism (Juzenkai)

I will not harm life.
I will not steal.
I will not commit adultery.
I will not tell a lie.
I will not exaggerate.
I will not speak abusively.
I will not equivocate.
I will not be greedy.
I will not be hateful.
I will not lose sight of the Truth.

THE PRIESTHOOD

Despite the terminology often used in the West, not all Buddhist clergy are monks, and not all temples are monasteries. What Westerners sometimes call monasteries are in fact temples with many, many resident priests (many Zen temples fall into this category). Some sects strongly encourage marriage for their clergy.

Buddhist priests are called so or soryo. The head priest in a temple, what Westerners mistakenly usually call abbots, are sojo. Celibates –monks- are called bozu. Nuns are called ama or bikuni. Warrior clerics are sohei, although there are fewer of them in Sengoku Japan than there were in the 12th and 13th centuries, when just about every major temple had its own standing army.

Shugenja are Buddhist clerics adhering to a sect called  Shugendo. They are the masters of Buddhist magic and mysticism. Buddhist clerics, both male and female, are required to shave their heads. This they usually do once ever several weeks, so clergy often have a “five o’clock shadowâ€Â

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Re: Samurai William: The Adventurer Who Unlocked Japan.

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:24 pm

Bai Mianxi

Might I suggest having a look at this?

http://www.columbia.edu/~hds2/learning/

I found it after a second or third read of Shogun--when I started wanting to know which characters were meant to be which historical figures, how accurate the portrayals were, and how real the "feel" of that Japan might be. Hosokawa Gracia has her own chapter, as do religion, samurai, and women; in that one there is some material on the founding of Gion.

It also has a full bibliography of prior fiction and non-fiction about William Adams, works by Clavell, and source material. Nothing is updated past 1980, however, and (as always) there may be incorrect overtones or interpretations reflecting the academic fads of the day.

It's a PDF, by the way. Free download. Enjoy.

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Re: Samurai William: The Adventurer Who Unlocked Japan.

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:24 pm

Musashi

Interesting. Though, a few things aren't really right. And well, Milton's book is based on the latest research on Will Adams, while Smith's book came out 1980. Many of the things known about Adams' adventures today have been found recently and there often by Milton.

Quote:
According to an extant account by a woman attendant named Shimo, who was the last to leave the premises, Gracia ordered her aged chamberlain to stab her chest with a halberd.

I already have to question the credicility of this Shimo, though. A halberd in Japan is a naginata, and those aren't piercing weapons. You can stab yes, but it's more effective to slash. If her chamberlain really wanted to kill her quickly, he'd just slash her with it, or even just use his own sword for it. Why pick up a naginata (which was the weapon of women in defending their homes) in a close area (inside a naginata is not really a weapon of choice) when he's carrying two swords? I can't help but to think that Shimo was spewing crap.

Quote:
Through other less extreme and more popular attempts to rationalize the existence of the samurai class in an era of peace, the values
of this military elite gradually spread throughout Japanese society as a whole. This is in distinct contrast to the West, where older aristocratic values were rejected by the rising middle class. One milestone in the popularization of samurai values was the glorification of the
story of the Forty-Seven Ronin, a group of samurai who in 1703
avenged the death of their lord for an alleged insult and died by
seppuku as a result. Through the influence of various dramatic and
literary re-creations, particularly the play Chushingura, the commoner
class of Japan came to internalize the ideal forms of samurai
behavior.

Interesting, simply because it seems that the author has not grasped the concept of bushido. According to Yamamoto Tsunetomo (author of the famous Hagakure), the Chushingura is a great story about revenge, but not a great story about bushido. And I must say, he was right with that statement (waiting one year for revenge, turning themselves in, that's not bushido, would they have followod bushido they would have attacked right away, not caring whether they'd succeed or not; not to mention that waiting for a year was a really bad decision, what if Kira would have died in that year? He wasn't really young anymore. I would say, they didn't really care about the samurai virtues, instead they only wanted to kill Kira (and were extremely lucky to achieve this goal before that old man would have died of a natural cause); all that aside, Asano, their master, was not that well liked among his retainers anyway, do the math: more than 300 retainers, but only 47 go for revenge).

Another important thing is, that the play Chushingura was, in fact, anti-government. And that made it so hugely popular in the Edo period (keep in mind that the shogun Tsunayoshi of those days is still called Dog Shogun today, it shows how well "liked" he still is). With the Meiji Restoration up until early Showa the play was changed more than a dozen times, turned from a story about revenge and resisting the rulers into a story about happily dying for the emperor, and was as such abused by the military pre-WW2.

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