Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese by Takie Sugiyama Lebra

By Takie Sugiyama Lebra

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This most up-to-date paintings from Japanese-born anthropologist Takie Sugiyama Lebra is the 1st ethnographic examine of the trendy jap aristocracy. tested as a category before everything of the Meiji interval, the kazoku ranked at once lower than the emperor and his family members. formally dissolved in 1947, this staff of social elites remains to be regularly perceived as the Aristocracy. Lebra won access into this tightly knit circle and carried out a couple of hundred interviews with its contributors. She has woven jointly a reconstructive ethnography from their lifestyles histories to create an intimate portrait of a distant and archaic world.

As Lebra explores the tradition of the kazoku, she locations every one topic in its old context. She analyzes the evolution of prestige limitations and the integral position performed by means of outsiders.

But this booklet isn't really easily concerning the elite. it's also approximately commoners and the way each one stratum mirrors the opposite. Revealing formerly unobserved complexities in eastern society, it additionally sheds gentle at the common challenge of social stratification.

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Nonetheless, the military ethos was not entirely stifled. Pride in military expertise and prowess accompanied the sense of rectitude vested in valor and loyalty. The ethos of the military elite was masculine, whereas the civil aristocracy in its seclusion represented the esthetic taste of femininity. And in the world of arts, too, the buke developed their own Zen-inspired repertoire and styles, notably under the sponsorship of the Ashikaga shogun, in certain genres such as noh and kyogen theater, black-ink painting (sumi-e), tea ceremony (chanoyu ), shoin-style domestic architecture, and gardening (Varley 1984).

During the Fujiwara period, the emperor and the Fujiwara regent shared hegemony, as the author of The Tale of the Heike testifies through Taira Shigemori, who refers to the rule of the country by “the descendants of the Sun Goddess and Ame-noKoyane-no-Mikoto” (Kitagawa and Tsunoda 1975, 110). Such joint rule was not unique to this period; indeed, dyarchies had existed on a smaller scale before and multiplied after the Fujiwara period, as if they were a fixed feature of Japanese political history inherent in Japan’s monarchy.

The Fujiwara’s later triumph in the Heian court meant not only external struggles against non-Fujiwaras, but also the selective survival of one or another branch family to the exclusion of all other branches among Kamatari’s descendants. The Fujiwara name was inherited by only one of Kamatari’s sons, Fuhito—another famous name in the history of court politics—who is credited with a major role in compiling the Taiho and Yoro codes. Fuhito’s sons established four separate houses, one of which—called Hokke, the Northern House—rose at the expense of the other houses, with such struggles continuing among that house’s descendants.

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