"Japan to 1600" traces Japanese historical development from the first evidence of human habitation in the archipelago to the consolidation of political power under the Tokugawa shogunate at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Unlike other introductory texts on early Japanese history, it views its subject from the perspective of developments that impacted all social classes rather than the privileged and powerful few. Economically, William Wayne Farris describes how the residents of the archipelago gradually moved from a forager mode of subsistence to a more predominantly agrarian base, supplemented by sophisticated industries and an advanced commercial economy. He reveals how the transition to farming took place over many centuries as people moved back and forth from settled agriculture to older forager-collector regimes in response to ecological, political, and personal factors. Although the book focuses on continuity and change in social and economic structures and experiences, it by no means ignores the political and cultural. Most chapters begin with an outline of political developments, and cultural phenomena, particularly religious beliefs, are also taken into account.
Finally, "Japan to 1600" addresses the growing connectedness between residents of the archipelago and the rest of the world.
William Wayne Farris is Sen Soshitsu XV Distinguished Professor of Traditional Japanese History and Culture at the University of Hawai'i.
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- ID: 9780824833794
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