Archaeology[Chapter 6]Japan:”Beginnings of Written History

 At the time Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the mid-sixth century, the construction of ancient imperial graves in the keyhole-style kofun style came to an end.  A failed attempt to invade the Korean peninsula in 663 marked the end of the system of rule that supported the rites surrounding the kofun. Shortly thereafter, the Ritsuryō state developed in Japan, marking a shift in the system of governance. This new polity was organized under and by written laws, and the written word played a large part in the governance.  The court of Emperor Temmu and his successor Empress Jittō were responsible for changing the name of the ruler to tennō (emperor) and the name of the country to Nihon (Japan). In this new system of government, regional castle towns, bureaucracies, and shrine temple complexes spread throughout the land. The state established monasteries for monks and nuns, and Buddhism was thought to contribute to the pacification of the country. 
  Later, changes in the ritsuryō state during the Heian period caused state-administered development of manufacturing and trade between districts, and newly emerging private estates. As samurai culture developed in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, the central authority over the various regions was divided and split into local areas. Moving forward through the Momoyama and Edo periods, the Meiji Restoration of 1868 brought the modernization of industry and the establishment of a national education system. The end of World War II in 1945 saw democratization and a peaceful nation, realizing a period a rapid economic growth that has lasted to today. 

-Ancient Earthenware and Lacquerware-

 From the second half of the seventh century and into the 8th century, many bureaucracts located in regional outposts and towns used a certain type of earthenware that is today known as ritsuryō earthenware.  The earthenware seen in Nara shows the influence of the three-color Tang earthenware (green, white, and brown).  Many examples have been unearthed from former government magistrate’s offices, temples, and ruins of ritual sites.  By the Heian period, many types of foreign pottery were imported through the government-run Kōrokan in Dazaifu, (in Fukuoka Prefecture, northern Kyushu). These imports included some extremely high quality celadon wares from China.  Domestic imitation green-glazed procelain and ash-glazed pottery began to be produced in Japan. 

-Medieval Earthenware and Lacquerware-

Ash-glaze porcelain was produced in the kilns of present-day Aichi prefecture, and by the second half of the 11th century unglazed camellia bowls (sanja-wan) were produced on a large scale. By the 12th century, Tokoname kiln and Atsumi kiln produced pots, jugs, and bowls. Later, many regional kilns developed. Suzu kiln in present-day Ishikawa prefecture is one such kiln. The Suzu kiln continued to operate into the 16th century as a Su'e ware kiln. The Seto kiln in Aichi prefecture produced high quality ceramics modeled on imported porcelain from the end of the 12th century. Toward the end of the 13th century, they developed iron-based glaze, and by the end of the 15th century used large kilns that could fire mass-production. 

-Chinaware and Japanese Porcelain-

 The first domestically produced porcelain is known as Imari-yaki.  The techniques used with ceramics were imported from the Korean peninsula, and in the 1610s in Arita, in present-day Saga prefecture, the first Japanese-made porcelain goods were created. By the 1640s, the techniques for applying color and motifs to the porcelain were introduced, and the Kokutani style of porcelain was developed. In the late Ming and early Ching dynasties, Chinese porcelain became difficult to obtain, and so Japanese-made Kakiemon and Kinrande design porcelain became popular with Dutch merchants.  Potters in Saga domain received sponsorship from the Shogun, and their Nabeshima-yaki are considered to be of the finest quality. 

-The Ritsuryō State, Castle Towns-

 The layout of urban construction for Japanese cities that was based on geomantic principles from the ancient Tang capital of Chang’an, began with the Fujiwara capital. Various distinctive lotus patterned tiles and T'ang patterned tiles have been found at the site of the former Fujiwara capital. In the Tang-modelled Fujiwara capital, the imperial palace was located in the center of the city. However, the later capitals of Heijō, Nagaoka, and Heian (later Kyoto) varied from this design. In these cities the palace was located at the northern edge of the city. In sites of these cities and their diplomatic outposts (like Dazaifu) and various border castle towns and local government offices, inkstones, narrow strips of wood for writing messages (mokkan) and even some texts written in ink have been unearthed. Through such objects, it is possible to see the operations of a government based on the use of writing.  

-Japanese Mountain Worship-

 Shūgendō is a form of Japanese mountain asceticism which traces its origins to its founder, En no Gyōja. Shūgendō is a form of Japanese mountain religion that developed under the influence of kami worship (Jingi Shinkō) and mountain Buddhism.  Originally, mountains were venerated as sources of life-giving water and as landmarks, but those worship practices appear to have been limited to rituals performed at the foot of the mountains. From the eighth century, rites performed at mountain peaks are noted, and monks involved in mountain worship became active around Mt. Kongōzan (in Nara), Mt. Nantai (in Ibaraki), and Mt. Tateyama (in Toyama).  From the tenth century mountain asceticism developed around various sacred mountains, and by the 11th century these practices developed the specific characteristics now associated with Shūgendo. 

-Mappō Thought and Sutra Burial-

 According to Japanese Buddhist cosmology, the world entered the Age of the Degenerate Dharma or Mappo in 1052. Sutras were interred to preserve the dharma while the world awaits the coming of the future Buddha, Maitreya.  Examples of copies of the Lotus Sutra interred in bronze, iron, lacquerware, and stone boxes have been found. This practice began to decline from the 12th century, but the interring of sutras for worldly benefits and purification rites continued in various forms until the early modern period. 

-Midieval Graves and Funerary Urns-

  In the medieval period, graves of various types were used: simple holes in the earth, mound graves, stone heaps and stone memorial towers. A study conducted by this university’s archaeological research laboratory investigated the various types of stone graves and mound graves found on Miyake Island (Tokyo prefecture).  From the 13th century, cremation became a popular form of burial for Buddhist clergy and samurai. Porcelain, stone and wooden reliquaries became common in grave sites. In samurai graves in particular, various imported porcelain and Japanese-made decorative vase-like containers became common. 

-Japanese Mirrors From the Han dynasty through the Tang-

 In contrast to Japanese mirrors that mimic the styles of Chinese mirrors from the Han dynasty through the Tang dynasty, there is a type of mirror produced in Japan and engraved with foiliage, flowers, birds, and butterflies and other natural features. These are referred to as wakyō or Japanese mirrors. These appeared during the late-middle 11th century at a time when indigenous styles were flourishing. Originally, mirrors were not only used for the application of makeup — they were also offered to Kami and Buddhas, buried together with sutras in sutra funeral memorial mounds, and even given as offerings to the dead.  From the end of the Muromachi period, polished bronze mirrors with handles began to appear and these remained the primary form of Japanese mirror until the introduction and popularization of glass mirrors in the Meiji period. 

-Memorial Placards (Itabi)-

 Itabi or narrow wooden memorial planks were a popular form of commemorialization from the Kamakura period to the Muromachi period. These wood or stone planks are often constructed in a characteristic angular form with engravings of boddhisatvas, posthumous names, dates, and verses from sutras. It is likely that these planks are modeled on the ritual implements and ornamentation of Buddhist iconography.  There are some extant wood examples, but some of the best known examples are stone constructions found in Kantō and Shikoku. Many of the memorial towers were constructed to consecrate the dead, and occasionally bones have been found interred in these memorial towers. Some memorial towers were also constructed to mark significant ritual events like the Tsukimachi and Kōshinmachi. 

-The Archaeology of the Early Modern Period-

 The archaeology of the early modern period developed from the study of the tombs of Daimyō and the history of ceramics. Excavations have been conducted beginning in Tokyo (Edo) and continuing on to various other cities. The field of archaelolgy has developed significantly, to the point that the sites of former samurai households, the sites of temples and shrines, and even sites where townsfolk once dwelt, have all been the subject of study.  It has also been possible to determine some of the actual details of trade and the large scale distribution of various common commodities.  Recent research has also begun to investigate the modernization process itself, looking to industrialization, population migration into cities, and the impact on the soil and forests. There is also a considerable body of work dealing with the archaeology of the Pacific War which has developed out of some important early studies of the war in Okinawa. 

-The Transmission of Japanese Culture and Folklore Studies -

 Like archaeology, folklore studies (Minzokugaku) is a discipline devoted to the study of traditional Japanese culture through non-textual resources.  Kokugakuin University held the first course in folklore studies in 1940, under the pioneering professors Kunio Yanagida and Shinobu Origuchi. This field of study examines traditional clothing, food, shelter, labor patterns and modes of production, faith, calendrical rites and other patterns of Japanese culture in material and non-material forms. This discipline looks to written records as well as other sources to investigate Japanese history, and as such it has had an important influence on the development of the study of Japanese history and Japanese archaeology.