| ||---------- introduction ---------- quick facts ---------- brief timeline ---------- clothing ---------- citations & credits ----------|
| Language Spoken: Japanese|
Religion: Shintoism & Buddhism (CIA)
Currency: Yen (¥)
Area: 145,840 mi2 (377,835 km2) (CIA)
Government: Constitutional monarchy (CIA)
Suffrage: Universal at the age of 20 (CIA)
"Hinomaru", the rising sun
History in Brief: The first Japanese people were hunters and gatherers, much like the rest of the world at the time. When rice farming, agriculture, and other advanced technology drifted over into Japan from Korea and China, local clans began to band together and formed political ties. During the Kofun period, the first true emperor, Shotoku Taishi, came to power and established Japan's first royal court. During his rule, Buddhism and Confucianism entered Japan, again via China and Korea. Following his rule, the Fujiwara aristocratic family came to power and ruled as a shadow-power for nearly two centuries. Following the downfall of the Fujiwara family, the Heian era came about and a mini-renaissance occurred. The culture flourished: art, beauty, and nature were all highly valued by the Heian era Japanese. During the Kamakura period, however, the culture was pushed under by military insurgence, and the Samurais took power from the court. |
In 1600, new influences laid the groundwork for modernized Japan. Firearms were introduced, as was Christianity, although the religion never took root in Japan. Shintoism and Buddhism remain the primary religions to this day. Shortly after this, Japan's two and a half century period of isolationism began. During this period, the Japanese culture once again flourished, and education, the arts, and peace once again became important. During the Meiji period, however, a second rise of militarism sent Japan into war. The small country defeated massive Russia in the Russo-Japanese war, and annexed Korea and Manchuria. Japan then bombed the United States naval base Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. After the deployment of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan was defeated and subsequently occupied by Allied Forces until 1952. After that, this period, called the "High Growth Age" brought Japan into an era of prosperity and turned the country into a world power. (Japan) (CIA World Factbook) (Open History)
The Japanese culture has existed for thousands of years on the island off the coast of Asia. The climate varies from sub-arctic in the northernmost region to sub-tropic in the southernmost region. Japanese clothing has existed for just as long as the culture has, with minor modifications according to the needs of the people. The kimono of today is definitely a recognizable descendant of the kimono of 300 A.D.
The kimono, a garment made of silk, is more than just a piece of clothing. It indicates the wearer's social class, wealth, and even marital status. Everyone from Geishas to the royal family wore kimono, and it once was the most common type of clothing in Japan. Today, however, Kimono are usually seen only at funerals, weddings, or other formal ceremonies.
Wearing a kimono is very serious business. It is not a garment one can simply slip over one's head and be on one's merry way in. To properly adorn a kimono, the wearer must have everything from special socks to a special handbag to carry around. The hair and make-up are also an integral part of kimono-wearing. These aspects must also be perfect. This probably arises from the focus on beauty and perfection during the Heian and Momoyama periods.