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An institution in decline, possessing little power or authority in a warrior-dominated age, or a still potent symbol of social and political legitimacy? Emperor and Aristocracy in Japan traces the fate of the imperial Japanese court from the lowest point in terms of influence and prosperity in the turbulent sengoku period to its more stable position in the Tokugawa period.An institution in decline, possessing little power or authority in a warrior-dominated age, or a still potent symbol of social and political legitimacy? Emperor and Aristocracy in Japan traces the fate of the imperial Japanese court from the lowest point in terms of influence and prosperity in the turbulent sengoku period to its more stable position in the Tokugawa period. In showing how the court adapted and survived, the author examines internal court politics and protocols, external court relations, court finances, court structure, and ceremonial observances. Emperor and courtiers, he concludes, adjusted to the warrior elite, while retaining the ideological advantage bestowed by culture, tradition, and birth, to which these new wielders of power continued to pay homage....

Title : Emperor and Aristocracy in Japan, 1467-1680: Resilience and Renewal
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ISBN : 9780674008519
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 452 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Emperor and Aristocracy in Japan, 1467-1680: Resilience and Renewal Reviews

  • G.G.
    2018-11-09 11:09

    A wonderful book: learned but accessibly written, full of fascinating people trying to get from one end of life to the other. I've never been able to read institutional history with pleasure, but Butler's book is different, partly because his explanations of the institutions--the imperial court with its ranks and offices--are so lucid, and partly because of the presence of all those people who are brought vividly to life. Butler is also a very good writer. My favorite touch was the chapter epigraphs from Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, which create an ironic counterpoint to the main narrative. (I attempted to achieve the same effect in my Imperial Concubine's Tale, using quotations from several of Jane Austen's novels as epigraphs.) Very few scholars enjoy Butler's mastery of medieval Japanese, especially that variety used by courtiers in their diaries, several of which are important sources for Emperor and Aristocracy in Japan. So I very much hope that Butler will have more to say about Japanese history in the future.

  • LeRon Harrison
    2018-11-04 10:02

    Lee Butler gives a very engaging depiction of the Imperial court between the beginning the Onin War in 1467 and the death of Emperor Go-Mizunoo in 1680. This aspect of Japanese history has been largely overlooked by historians as they assume the court didn't have any power once the Onin War broke out and from that point on they depended on warriors such as Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu to set things right and keep the court afloat. Butler presents a different version arguing that the court still tried to maintain the traditional rituals and practices as best as they could while soliciting support from warriors. The court in this period was changing and that change is the thing that help sustain it; in fact it was the balance of changing in certain aspects and maintaining established rites and practices that saw the court through its most trying era.For me personally the most enjoyable parts of the books were the discussions of Nobunaga that draw upon the Oda Nobunaga monjo. I myself had to work through some of the text in this volume of documents issued by Nobunaga; the class was a hard one, so hard I labeled it "The Hell of the Monjo" as it seemed like a Buddhist hell at times. To see documents from the Monjo appearing and being discussed in describing the interactions between Nobunaga and the court took me back to that class and brought a smile to my face as I read them.The major flaw that keeps me from giving the book five stars is also a personal one: the absence of gagaku (Imperial court music) from Bulter's discussion. Butler discussion court culture and elements of that culture such as calligraphy and kemari (court kickball), but he hardly ever makes mention of gagaku over the course of the book. He discusses the court patronage of Noh and their interest in kabuki in the beginning of the 17th century but gagaku only get indirectly mentions as part of the arts the nobles families were supposed to pursue under Ieyasu's Kuge Shohatto directives. While the historical court musician families such as the Togi and Sono were capped at 5th and 6th rank and would not have any contact with Nobunaga et al when they came to court, the Saionji and Ayanokouji families held high positions (maxing out at Minister of the Left and Major Counselor respectively), would be involved in the events that Bulter describes, and had their own family traditions of gagaku. (The Saionji were a biwa family; the Ayanokouji kagura, wagon, koto, and flute.) These were just as important as kemari and calligraphy in maintaining the court's sense of itself (perhaps more so since some of rituals that the court revived and performed would require gagaku). And yet Butler devotes no space to discuss this aspect; in this way Butler's history hides the history of gagaku and only adds to gagaku's asbence from Japanese cultural history.Aside for this, Bulter does a very good job in examining and reinterpreting this moment in Japanese hsitory and pointing directions in which future scholars can proceed.