Japan document based activity

Answer the questions using complete sentences on your own paper.

1. How many large islands make up Japan?
2. Which is the northernmost island?
3. On which island is Mt. Fuji located?
4. Which direction is Mt. Fuji from Tokyo?
5. Which two islands are closest to mainland Asia?
6. What island is the farthest south?

7. What did Japan learn from China by way of Korea?
8. What did Japan learn from China that KOrea did not?

In 604, Prince Shotoku wrote a new set of laws for Japan.This “Seventeen-Article Constitution” was based on Shotoku’s ideas about how to govern fairly, without wasted expense and time. In this excerpt, Shotoku was clearly influenced by the three key elements (“treasures”) of Buddhism: the Buddha (the founder of Buddhism), the Law of Dharma (the natural and moral order of all living things), and the religious order of male and female monks - students and followers of Buddha’s teachings.

Seventeen-Article Constitution

Article 2. Sincerely reverence the three treasures. The three treasures: the Buddha, the Law, and the Priesthood, are the final refuge . . . and are the supreme objects of faith in all countries. What man in what age can fail to reverence this law? Few men are utterly bad. They may be taught to follow it. But if they do not go to the three treasures, how shall their crookedness be made straight?

reverence = respect
refuge = place of safety
supreme = highest
utterly = completely, totally

9. According to Prince Shotoku’s constitution, what must Japanese citizens respect?
10. What religion did Prince Shotoku support in his constitution?

The samurai lived by a code of honor described in two important volumes. The first, The Code of the Samurai, was written by a member of a Tokugawa clan some time in the late 1600s. The second was written some thirty to forty years later by a man who worked for a daimyo in western Japan. Both volumes give us a look into the world of the samurai.

Document 1: from The Code of the Samurai, written by Daidoji Yuzan Shigesuki

“It is the custom in military families for even the very least of the servants of the samurai never to be without a short sword for a moment....And if this is so in the house how much more is it necessary when one leaves to go somewhere else...There is an old saying, “When you leave your gate act as though the enemy was in sight.” So since he is a samurai and wears a sword in his girdle he must never forget the spirit of the offensive. And when this is so, the mind is firmly fixed on death. But the samurai who does not maintain this aggressive spirit, even though he does wear a sword at his side, is nothing but a farmer or a tradesman in a warrior’s skin.

11. What must a samurai always carry with him?
12. What does a samurai fix their minds on?

Document 2: from Hidden Behind Leaves, by Yamaga Soko, written in the early 1700s

“The Way of the Warrior (bushido) is to find a way to die. If a choice is given between life and death, the samurai must choose death. There is no more meaning beyond this. Make up your mind and follow the predetermined course. Someone may say, “You die in vain, if you do not accomplish what you set out to do.” That represents an insincere approach of the Kyoto people to the bushido. When you are forced to choose between life and death, no one knows what the outcome will be. Man always desires life and rationalizes his choice for life. At that very moment, if he misses his objectives and continues to live, as a samurai he must be regarded as a coward....If he misses his objectives and chooses death, some may say he dies in vain and he is crazy to do it. But this must not be regarded as a shameful act. It is of utmost importance for the bushido. Day and night, if you make a conscious effort to think of death and resolve to pursue it, and if you are ready to discard life at a moment’s notice, you and the bushido will become one.”

13. What choices must a samurai choose between?
14.What does the bushido say a samurai must always think about?
15. How does a samurai become one with the bushido?

16. Why were the merchants at the bottom of society in Japan?

17. Who were the actual rulers of Japan?

18. What did Korea receive from China that Japan did not?

19. What did Japan receive from China?

20. Where did Chinese ideas spread to?


21. What weapons does the samurai have?

22. In what ways does the samurai's costume protect his life?

23. Besides protection, what other purposes would the samurai's costume provide?

24. Draw and label the samurai picture above. It has lots of information you have already learned.