Traditionand Change in East Asia
Traditionand change in East Asia
TheEast Asia nations comprise of the modern day Japan and China. Thenations have rich traditions and culture but have also beeninfluenced by other cultural practices from the rest of the worldespecially due to the effects of globalization. The nations have alsoundergone significant Transformations since the early days and haverightfully claimed their positions among the developed countries ofthe world. This research paper delves into the tradition and changethat has taken place in East Asia over the years to achieve a betterunderstanding of the nations involved.
Inwhat is considered the beginning of the days in the history of EastAsia, there were dominant dynasties within Japan and China, whichwere controlled by centralized systems of governance (Kubota, 1998).They had powerful governments that were well structured and were runthrough active bureaucracies. China was dominated by the Ming dynastythat had overthrown Mongols at around 1368.The family reconstructedthe facilities in the Empire to develop and win the confidence of thepeople. Among the major infrastructures that the Ming dynasty, led byEmperor Hongwu, constructed were the great wall, and efficientirrigation facilities. However, corruption and other evil practiceseroded the gains made in the family.
Towardsthe end of the 17th century, Ming state was attacked by Manchuriantribe and was overthrown. The consequence was the establishment ofthe Qing, and one of the Manchurian tribe became the new ruling class(Wilkerson, & Parkin,2012). At around the same period, theTokugawa shoguns in Japan dismantled the powerful Daimyo orprovincial rulers and established a unitary central government. It isclear that the political wave was sweeping across the two countries.
Regardingtraditions, China and Japan shared common features. They both hadcentralized form of bureaucratic administration on all governancematters (Wilkerson, & Parkin,2012). The structure ofConfucian-trained personnel managed the Qing Empire whose capital wasat Nanjing. On the other hand, the Tokugawa shoguns of Japan was runby the daimyo provincial rulers based at Edo city
Regardingvalues, the Confucian training was determined by the administrationsand emphasized the importance of roles and responsibilities of theindividuals. Order and respect for the authority were also some ofthe core values. The family was accepted as the simplest social unitin both countries (Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, &Queensland Art Gallery,1993).
Theeconomies of the two countries were dominated by agriculture, andthere was the minimum practice of commerce. Peasant farming suppliedfood to the states while handcraft industry provided luxurious itemsto the rich. The handcrafts was a primary source of income for thestates (Wilkerson, & Parkin,2012). The two countries engaged inforeign trade although it was restricted to a few highly regulatedport towns.
Theculture in the two states largely remained unchanged for over twohundred years as the citizens had no chance to travel abroad. Theircultures were, therefore, stagnant for long. The failure to travelmade the states lag very behind regarding technology compared to thewestern nations
TheEast Asia States have undergone major milestones regarding traditionsand other aspects of development. For example, the construction ofthe vast wall by the Ming Dynasty was one such development. The wallwas 1550 miles in length, and the purpose of the creation was toprovide security to Ming population against invasion by Mongol. Thewall was also used to provide accommodation to the Ming soldiers.
Inanother development, The Manchus were able to trick the Mingadministration and claimed their land. The Manchus achieved that byconvincing the Ming government that they could offer any help, mainlyin security. They took over Beijing and established Manchuriaadministration. The new government banned intermarriages betweenmembers of different tribes and was against the law for the Mandowspeople to learn Chinese
Afterthe Manchus had taken over the Ming land, Emperor Kangxi wasinstalled as the new ruler. He was a favorite Confucian poet and asuccessful soldier. At the time, emperors were highly regarded, andthere were occasional rituals conducted to honor them and to blessthem so they could guide the empire in the right direction(Wilkerson, & Parkin, 2012). There was a system of governancewhere the scholars formed the government bureaucracies andparticipated in the daily operations of the government (Kubota,1998). The positions in the government were merit-based, and therewere well-administered exams to gauge the individual potential.Widows were not allowed to remarry while girls were subjected to apractice called foot-binding with an intention to make them beautiful(Kubota, 1998). It was also a sign to depict affluence in the girls`families. The population was kept low by wars and the frequentrebellions. There was very little impact of technology and scienceas the government highly guarded external influences.
UnderEmperor Kangxi, agriculture underwent a revolution. He introducedflood control measures, and adequate irrigation systems wereestablished. Due to his positive influences and success, he conqueredseveral areas which included Taiwan (Asia-Pacific Triennial ofContemporary Art, & Queensland Art Gallery, 1993).
Kangxiwas succeeded by Qianlong, who was a poet and is said to havecomposed more than 100,000.He was an efficient administrator who madethe empire so wealthy to extent that tax was canceled at some pointsof his administration. He introduced comprehensive measures inagriculture and public policy that elevated the economy.
Amonga popular tradition in China is the belief that an emperor was not agod, but at the same time, he was not considered an ordinary humanbeing. Therefore, in the bid to demonstrate his position in thesociety, he was referred to as "son of heaven" implyingthat he had been bestowed on the people by divine powers to assertlaw and order.
Confucianismwas central religion and was very popular in both the Qing and theMing empires. It played a major role in the education system as theConfucian doctrine was a prerequisite to qualify to work in the civilservice (Wilkerson, & Parkin,2012). It was, therefore, one of themajor aspects of the curriculum. The examination structure was asignificant authority and greatly influenced how the administrationand the economy performed. It was strictly conducted, and educationwas considered an important element in the transformation of lives.It emphasized the importance to succeed in formal education with theaim of taking over the increasing official opportunities in theadministration of the government. The education also underscored theneed to uphold the family values and the children were encouraged torespect their parents and elders in general.
Asdynasties progressed in China, there was a gradual change ofperception that was taking over the conservative society. Knowledgewas undergoing a transformation in leaps and bounds (Kubota, 1998).For example, Zhu Xi WAS one of the men in the Song Dynasty who playeda significant role in the creation Neo-Confucianism. He combined logical and rigor rationalism used in Buddhism to create a new bodyand line of thinking. There was a need to develop knowledge, andgreat endeavors were made, and an encyclopedia was printed and givento members of the public (Wilkerson, & Parkin, 2012).
Withthe transformation of knowledge, new religions were slowly gainingroots in China. The most well-known Christian missionaries were theJesuits who worked to enhance the Catholic doctrines in Asia. Themissionaries were from Europe and played a major role in theintroduction of science and technology to China. A popular missionaryMatteo Ricci was one such missionary who had a lot of impact on thespread of Christianity and also introduced industrial machinery toChina, which laid the foundation for industrial development as knowntoday(Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, & QueenslandArt Gallery,1993).
Japanwas birthed as Jomon and its original people in the period8000B.C.E-300B.C.E were mainly involved in hunting and gathering(Wilkerson, & Parkin, 2012).They had a rich cultural heritage .The demographic dynamics andlanguage was determined at around that period.TheJapanese had a wide range of diet most of which could be found inmodern day china and Korea. Food was a major component of theJapanese identity and was taken very seriously(Kubota, 1998).Rice vegetables and seafood were common in the menus and are stillcommon foods in modern Japan. On family matters, marriages werearranged and usually there was use of intermediaries before seriousrelationships could be established.
Apowerful state was created at the end of 16th century and was led byTokugawa Leyasu. He was instrumental in the creation of the Bakula orthe "Tent Government" which was temporally until a newemperor could take over. He led a military dynasty and controlled theDaimyo until 1867. The Daimyo was a powerful and wealthy class whocontrolled most of the land in Japan. They were powerful and couldnot be challenged before the reign of Leyasu. They had theiradministrations of government and an active military. The emperorcompelled them to stay in Edo o that they could spend their money andalso enable the Emperor watch over them.
Althoughthe tent government was supposed to be interim until a new emperorcould gain control, it lasted beyond the expectation of many andlasted 2067 years (Kubota, 1998).
Shogunwas one of the governors who ruled Japan militarily throughretainers. Retainers were awarded political rights and land and, inturn, availed him the military power. Shogun had taken a temporaryposition in place of the emperor. At the time, warriors were highlyregarded in Japan with Bushido (way of the warrior) being defined byloyalty, martial arts and honor till one died.
Neo-Confucianism,that combined morals and political values with Buddhism philosophywas also adopted in Japan and was embraced as the official practicein all aspects of the life of the people. The ideology had beenstarted by Xhu Xi in China and was being applied in the Ming and Qingempires.
Leisurewas gradually being adopted by the Japanese people, and there was theemergence of entertainment joints where people could relax duringfree time and holidays. Such places included theaters, public bathsand brothels. The theaters were especially popular, and puppet showswere incorporated by most in most of the theaters (Asia-PacificTriennial of Contemporary Art, & Queensland Art Gallery, 1993).
Justlike in China, Christianity was gradually creeping and Fabian Fucanwas one of the earliest Japanese Buddhist, who joined Christianity in1586.However his relationship with the missionaries, alteredcompelling him to leave the Jesuit order (Kubota, 1998). He wasinstrumental in various attacks against the Christianity faith andit’s God. Japan was gradually embracing the alien culture, withAmerican food being introduced.
TheDutch also became the principal source of European education, whichformed a major foundation in the infiltration of the European culturein Japan.Japan was largely influenced by the west and started establishingwestern structures in its administration. They created awestern-influenced army and were determined to occupy other countriesin East Asia. For example, it occupied Ryukyu Island and extendedinfluence to Formosa(Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, & Queensland ArtGallery,1993).
Inconclusion, East Asia comprise mainly of Japan and china. Though thetwo countries were not related at the beginning, their proximity toeach shaped the influence they continue up to modern day. They sharea rich history and tradition which dates back to ancient times. Atfirst they were closed nations that resisted the influence of thewestern nations. That however changed and European nations were ableto extend their influence, science and technology which laid thefoundation for industrial growth. Though the change was slow atfirst, they were able to catch up and assume their rightful positionsat the table of the developed nations as currently constituted. Thetwo nations are today economic powerhouses and probably much moreadvanced than most of the western nations.
Asia-PacificTriennial of Contemporary Art, & Queensland Art Gallery. (1993).Identity,tradition and change: Contemporary art of the Asian Pacific region,17-20 September 1993.South Brisbane, Qld: Queensland Art Gallery.
Kubota,H. (1998). Outof the east: Transition and tradition in Asia.New York: W.W. Norton.
Wilkerson,J., & Parkin, R. (2012). Modalitiesof change: The interface of tradition and modernity in East Asia.New York: Berghahn Books.