book review

Delving Deeper in the Edo Period of Japan through Kidlit

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 Not long ago, I shared a post about two books that delved into the fascinating era of Asia’s Edo Period.

Margi Preus

The response and feedback were wonderful so I think I’d take some time to dive in a little deeper and this time I like to explore the Edo Period of Japan.

Heart of a Samurai is set in the late 1800’s which is the end of the feudal Edo period of Japan. The Edo period lasted from 1603 to 1868. The first Shogun was Tokogawa Ieyasu, who ended years of civil war and established a stable society.

To secure his status as leader of a unified Japan, Ieyasu introduced a strict class system and the tight control of the ruling daimyo families from the capital city Edo (Tokyo).The four levels of society were created around Shi-No-Ko-Sho, Samurai (warrior),peasant, artisan, and merchant. Individuals had no legal rights and the family became very important at all social levels.

To read more about the Shi-No-Ko-Sho, go HERE.

The Edo Period of Japan through Kidlit: Japanese Language

In Japan they speak Japanese. That’s why when Manjiro was rescued on the John Howland he had to quickly learn English.The Japanese alphabet has 99 sounds formed with 5 vowels (a,e,i,o,u) and 14 consonants (k,s,th,m,y,r,w,g,z,d,b,p,and,n).Unlike English, which has one alphabet for writing and speaking, Japanese is written with 3 types of characters or alphabets: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.Each alphabet has it’s own function but combinations of all three are used to make written sentences.

Curious to learn more about the Japanese language? Go HERE.

1. Hiragana (Chart)

Just like English, the Hiragana letters represent a specific sound. Also just as in English, each letter doesn’t have a meaning. One needs to combine the sounds into words. Each letter is only pronounced one certain way without any exceptions.

2. Katagana (Chart)

Like Hiragana each letter has a sound but these letters are used to spell foreign words in the Japanese language.

3. Kanji ( Chinese Characters) See how Kanji goes from pictures to symbols.

Unlike Hiragana and Katakana, Kanji are Chinese symbols which have been assigned to Japanese words. Each symbol is like a pictographs which has a specific meaning.  Kanji is very difficult because of all the variations in words one can write. A Japanese lady told me that to read the Japanese newspaper, one must know a minimum of at least 18,000 kanji symbols.

As part of our book adventure we had a really fun look at the Japanese language.

Edo Period of Japan through Kidlit: See how your name is written in Kanji.

It was very fun to see our names written in Japanese. We couldn’t just leave it there though, we had to look up different family members names as well as our best friends.

Next on the list was wanting to speak Japanese. Of course we couldn’t accomplish this in an afternoon but we did have fun learning a few quick phrases.

edo period

Heart of A Samurai PDF’s

PDF#1 Edo Period

The four levels of society were created around Shi-No-Ko-Sho,

*Samurai (warrior) Samurai functioned as the warrior class in Japan; they constituted about 1% of the population. The other classes were prohibited from possessing weapons. Carrying two swords became the symbol of the samurai class. Samurai on horseback, wearing Ō-yoroi armour, carrying bow and arrows.

*Peasant (Blue collar worker) Life for a rural peasant focused on their village. Peasants rarely moved beyond their village and journeys and pilgrimages required a permit (though young people occasionally sought seasonal employment outside of their village.)

*Artisan, and merchant. By 1800 as much as 10% of the population of Japan may have lived in large towns and cities- one of the highest levels in the world at this time[8]. The daimyo and their samurai did not produce any goods themselves, but they used the tax surplus from the land to fuel their consumption. These needs were met by artisans, who moved to be around the castles, and merchants, who traded local and regional goods. Each class in the city was restricted to living in its own quarter. Below is the house of the merchant in Edo times.

Individuals had no legal rights and the family became very important at all social levels.

Society during the Edo period (or Tokugawa period) in Japan was ruled by strict customs and regulations intended to promote stability. Confucian ideas provided the foundation for a system of strict social prescriptions. At the top of the social order, though below emperor, shogun, and daimyo (lords), were the samurai who functioned as the ruling class. Second most praised were the peasants (heimin), who lived in villages and produced agricultural goods. Increasing urbanization and rising consumerism created merchant and artisan classes in towns and cities. Social mobility during this period was highly limited. As wealth became concentrated outside of the samurai class, conflicts between class arose and the social order became increasingly challenged.-Wikipedia

The Edo period and feudal system brought 250 years of peace to Japan and with it, great development in their three major cities Edo (Tokyo), Osaka, and Kyoto.

Though the Japanese Shoguns cut Japan off from the rest of the world by not allowing foreign ships to dock and trade, inside it’s borders culture exploded in large city centers. The rising middle classes had the opportunity and the time to pursue cultural pursuits such as theatre (kabuki), art and literature,Geisha, musicians, actors, sumo wrestlers and poets all contributed to the rise of the ukiyo or ‘floating world’.

PDF#2 Japanese Language;

1. Hiragana (Chart)

Edo period

Just like English, the Hiragana letters represent a specific sound. Also just as in English, each letter doesn’t have a meaning. One needs to combine the sounds into words. Each letter is only pronounced one certain way without any exceptions.

2. Katagana (Chart)

edo period

Like Hiragana each letter has a sound but these letters are used to spell foreign words in the Japanese language.

3. Kanji ( Chinese Characters) See how Kanji goes from pictures to symbols.

Unlike Hiragana and Katakana, Kanji are Chinese symbols which have been assigned to Japanese words. Each symbol is like a pictographs which has a specific meaning.  Kanji is very difficult because of all the variations in words one can write. A Japanese lady told me that to read the Japanese newspaper, one must know a minimum of at least 18,000 kanji symbols.

As part of our book adventure we had a really fun look at the Japanese language.

See how your name is written in Kanji.

It was very fun to see our names written in Japanese. We couldn’t just leave it there though, we had to look up different family members names as well as our best friends.

Next on the list was wanting to speak Japanese. Of course we couldn’t accomplish this in an afternoon but we did have fun learning a few quick phrases.

To go a little deeper here our 8 lessons which are easy for children and adults to use and gives a very simple but wonderful background to the Japanese language.

Edo Period of Japan through Kidlit: Something To Do

My dear friend Mia Wenjen from Pragmaticmom.com has a delightful post about the day she and her son did some “sword making.”

Edo period

She also has a wonderful list of Bilingual Japanese Books for Kids.

Bilingual Japanese books for kids

Happy reading and exploring!

 

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