Read e-book online Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese PDF

By Takie Sugiyama Lebra

ISBN-10: 0520076028

ISBN-13: 9780520076020

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This newest paintings from Japanese-born anthropologist Takie Sugiyama Lebra is the 1st ethnographic examine of the trendy jap aristocracy. proven as a category in the beginning of the Meiji interval, the kazoku ranked without delay under the emperor and his relatives. formally dissolved in 1947, this workforce of social elites remains to be in general perceived as the Aristocracy. Lebra received access into this tightly knit circle and carried out multiple hundred interviews with its participants. 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 barriers and the crucial position performed through outsiders.

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

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Additional info for Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese Nobility

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Even as late as the end of the Tokugawa era, members of the sekke were treated like lords by lower-ranking noblemen, whose servile demeanor and comportment was delightfully described by Shimohashi Yukiosa, a former retainer of the Ichijo house, in his personal recollections (Shimohashi and Hagura 1979, 249). Above the Clouds Page 37 The lasting preeminence of the Fujiwara in the civil aristocracy was rooted in the clan’s matrimonial alliance with the imperial house. Because consorts to emperors and crown princes were selected primarily from a pool of Fujiwara women, Fujiwara men enjoyed the privilege of being brothers-in-law, maternal uncles, and—best of all—maternal grandfathers of emperors.

Hideyoshi chose, therefore, to seek legitimacy in the imperial throne rather than to take over the virtually dead shogunate. He patronized the imperial family, court nobles, and religious establishments by means of conspicuous gifts and awards of land, rice, money, and other valuables, as well as by restoring the run-down imperial palaces to their former dignity: “Between 1589 and 1591, Hideyoshi had eleven structures rebuilt, from the shi-shinden (official ceremonial hall) to the bath” (Berry 1982, 182).

The next interval was marked by the ascension of two warlords in succession, Oda Nobunaga (r. 1573-82) and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (r. 1582-98), to restore order following the chaos of warfare that had marked the last hundred years of the Ashikaga regime. Nobunaga had at first claimed Fujiwara descent and so obtained ministerial positions in the imperial court, but he soon switched to a Taira identity, probably influenced by the contemporary ideology that the succession of shogunal dynasties should be based on the Minamoto-Taira alternation (Hayashiya 1966, 59-60), counting the Taira hegemony prior to Yoritomo and the Hojo regency as equivalent to the shogunate.

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


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