Lucas
Period _ CORE
2/7/12
Mr. Jacobs
Mission Hill Middle School
The Lord-Vassal System
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The Lord Vassal System
The Lord-Vassal System was a complicated system of government in medieval Japan in which everyone was trying to get power. At the top of the system was the Shogun. Under the Shogun were the Daimyo warlords. Below the Daimyo were the samurai warriors. At the bottom of the hierarchy were the peasants. The system was so great, in fact, that there are influences of Bushido, the warrior code, in modern Japan.
    
    “During Japan's feudal period the Shogun held the most power while the Emperor was more of a puppet figure with little actual power”-welsh.  The
At the top of the Lord-Vassal System was the Shogun. Shogun means “supreme commander of the army.” The shogun was the top military commander and was appointed by the Emperor. A sword was an important part of the Shogun’s attire. Eventually, the Shogun became more and more powerful. Emperor, his family, and his courts had little to no power. They were more like puppets. The Shogun was the war leader who paid samurai Warriors in exchange for services. The Shogunate was held by various powerful families. When one would become weak, another powerful family would take over the Shogunate. The first Shogun was named Minamoto Yoritomo. The Minamoto family and their successors were in charge from 1192 to 1333, then the Ashikaga from 1338-1597, and finally the Tokugawa after 1603.
    Under the Shogun were the Daimyo warlords. The Daimyo were rich landholders who let peasants work their land for food, and they paid samurai for their services as warriors. Originally, they were helpers to the Shogun, but over time, the central government and the shogun weakened due to the government’s lack of money. This made warriors change their allegiances from the Shogun to Daimyos, because they had more money. Soon, the Daimyos went to war with each other for power. After a century of warfare, some generals defeated their rival Daimyo and one of them, Tokugawa Ieyasu, became the Shogun. Tokugawa founded a dynasty that held power in Japan until the Meiji restoration that happened in 1868. The Daimyo lost their power in the Meiji restoration of 1868.
   
    Below the Daimyo were the samurai warriors. Shoguns gave samurai appointments to office and land in exchange for their services as warriors. Later, Daimyos paid the samurai the same way that the Shogun did. The samurai developed strong fighting skills by living by a code known as Bushido. Women could become samurai. “Although women were allowed to become samurai, a male samurai of equal rank could give orders to a female samurai”-factsaboutjapan.com. Samurai were always loyal to their lords. Samurai had privileges over commoners such as being able to have a surname, a family crest, and to be able to carry two swords at once,
 
            In Japan there were many Ninja schools. Ninja (or shinobi) were secret assassins that got hired by daimyos to assassinate people during the civil war era. Eventually, the Shogun Ieyasu brought all of the ninja under his command, but Daimyo hired ninja even though it was illegal.
            At the bottom of the Lord-Vassal System were the peasants. The peasants were divided into several sub-classes, such as farmers, merchants and artisans. The farmers and artisans made up the largest percent of the population. Some farmers owned their own land and were higher in status than those that did not. Artisans or craftsmen were ranked below farmers. They worked with wood and metal. Some got famous for making Saura swords. The Merchants were below the artisans because unlike peasants and artisans, they didn’t produce any goods that contributed to society. People thought they were living off of other people’s work. But later, people started to use more money, and merchants became wealthier. The samurai led by the Daimyo would protect the peasants. Most peasants were farmers, and they supplied the entire system with food. The farmers had complete control over their land, and paid the Daimyo in food.

    The samurai code of honor, Bushido, was made from the ideas of four different religions. “The religions were Buddhism, Zen, Shintoism, and Confucianism. Like Buddhism, Samurai didn’t fear death, and they knew that if they followed the seven virtues of Bushido, you will be reincarnated. Like Zen, Samurai focused on meditation and mind stimulation. The virtue of loyalty came from Shintoism. Bushido and Confucianism had the same virtues on justice, benevolence, love, and sincerity”-bushidohistory.com. Bushido was created in the 9th-12th centuries. Bushido taught samurai to be fearless in battle as well as be loyal to their lords. They also pledged respect to the gods and pledged their generosity to the poor. Zen Buddhism was important in Bushido, as well as protecting your lord over even your family. There are seven virtues of Bushido. The seven virtues are rectitude, courage, benevolence, respect, honesty, honor, and loyalty. If you did not follow the seven virtues, you were not a samurai. Samurai practiced self-sacrificing. Samurai would sacrifice themselves if they committed crimes or insulted a superior. Some samurai sacrificed themselves if their lord died. This was called seppuku. Over time, seppuku became more formal and guests were invited as well as the samurai bathed before committing seppuku. People in japan followed samurai traditions until the 1900s.

   
    Some parts of this effective system are still practiced today. For example, the Japanese soldiers who fought in World War II stayed true to Bushido and sacrificed and lived for their emperor, though the Bushido decreased after the Japanese lost. The martial arts of the samurai are still studied today. There are many schools that teach Judo, or fighting with bamboo sticks. Kendo or “the way of the sword” can be traced back to the Samurai’s Kenjutsu which is the style of samurai sword fighting. There are many Kendo schools throughout Japan. Also, many movies have been made to display the life of the samurai. Also, a lot of manga (Japanese comics) have been made to portray the lives of samurai such as “Samurai Deeper Kyo”, “Ruroni Kenshin”, and “Samurai Champloo”.
   
    So as you can see, The Lord-Vassal system consisting of Shoguns at the top, the Daimyo warlords under the Shogun, the Samurai warriors under the Daimyo, and the Peasants at the bottom, was an effective system of government in Medieval Japan. An important part of this system was the samurai code of honor, Bushido. It was so good, that there are many influences of the samurai code of honor, Bushido, in modern Japan.


About the author


    Lucas is   a   7th   grader   at   Mission   Hill   Middle   School.   He   lives   in   Santa   Cruz   CA   with   his   mom,   dad,   and   sister.   He   likes   to   read   comic   books.   Soccer   and   water polo   are   sports   he   plays.   His   Parents   are   scientists   that   work   at   UCSC.   His   Dad   teaches   Cell   Biology   there.   His   Favorite   drink   is   root   beer.   He   likes   to   doodle   pictures   of   random   things.   When   he   grows   up   he   wants   to   be   a   comic   book   artist.   His   favorite   type   of   pizza   that   they   have   at   mission   hill   on   Fridays   is   Hawaiian.   He    also   hopes   to   someday   visit   Hawaii.   He   has   relatives   in   Egypt   and   went   there   to   visit   them   in   spring   break   of   2010.   Lucas   also   wants   to   go   to   Japan   someday.   His   favorite   color   is   Orange.   His   top   five   favorite   animals   are   panda,    goat,   hedgehog,   and   hummingbird.   His   favorite   dinosaur   is   a   Parasaurolophus.   Lucas   was   born   in   Boston   Massachusetts   and   moved   to   Santa   Cruz   when   he   was   about   one   and   a   half   years   old.   He   was   born   at   night.   His    favorite   flavor   of   ice   cream   is   cookie   dough.   His   favorite   kind   of   doughnut   is   apple   fritter.   He   hopes   he   will   almost   be   done   with   his   authors   page.

Work cited page
Welsh, Christian Japanese Feudal System and Castles. Prezi. 2 Oct 2012. web. 20 Feb 2013. http://prezi.com/opgl3nmk8j66/japenese-feudal-system-castles/
Feudal Japan. Facts about Japan. Web. 20 Feb 2013 www.facts-about-japan.com/feudal-japan.html
Bushido Origins and Influences." Welcome to Bushido History 2007 1. 24 Jul 2008 http://library.thinkquest.org/08aug/01473/bushidohistory.html