Several teaching Web sites are included here as is the case in each part.
However, Asia for Educators (AFE)
is such a comprehensive and high quality pedagogical site that it deserves
special treatment. The site, designed for high school and undergraduate classes, contains applicable Japan lessons for much of the content of this entire Japan in World History component.
Many instructors prefer to begin any treatment of a culture
by focusing upon geography. Besides the two geography teaching
components in this module—Japan's Cultural Landscapes and Centripetal Forces in Japan—the following
Lesson on Japan's Geography, although
designed for high school or introductory college classes, is also
adaptable to middle school.
Japan's indigenous religion, now called Shinto, was an important
part of Japan's cultural heritage before extensive regional
Shinto is a student reading followed by
discussion questions that provides an introduction to this religious
The Shinto Online Network Association
maintains an excellent English language site for further instructor
and student exploration of this unique Japanese spiritual tradition.
Along with a written language, Confucianism and Buddhism were
imported into Japan from Korea and became major early influences
upon Japan's developing aristocracy. Confucianism and Buddhism were signficant in the development of Japan's early ruling class. In order to understand both Japan
and East Asia in world history, students should have an in-depth
experience studying basic Confucian principles.
Confucian Thought combines both a
succinct overview of Confucius for students with primary source
excerpts from The Analects and discussion questions.
The Constitution of Prince Shotoku
is a primary source-based lesson where students learn about Buddhist and Confucian influences on Japan's early government. Although Buddhism was not a popular religion during this period, it was influential among the aristocrats. Teachers and students who are interested in Buddhism in general, and Japanese Buddhism in particular, should visit Teaching and Learning: Part 2 of this component.
It is important for students to understand that by the latter part of Japan's
classical period, even though the country was first influenced by
East Asia, a few aristocrats in Heian (present day Kyoto) were
developing cultural forms that were distinctively Japanese.
In addition to importing Chinese characters, the Japanese,
(particularly aristocratic women) were writing with the kana,
two Japanese scripts developed during the Heian period (794-1185).
The best user friendly Web site on the Japanese writing system is
Kanji Land which can
be used by a wide variety of audiences ranging from those who
desire to simply better understand the writing system to students
who want to learn it.
The Heian Period's court-aristocrats and the two greatest
literary works of the era, The Pillow Book and the Tale of
Genji, both epitomize the cultural values and aesthetics
that became distinctively Japanese.
The Heian Period 794-1185
includes teacher and student readings and links to lessons based upon
these two master pieces. Of the two works, The Tale of Genji is
particularly important. Literature professor Sonja Arntzen's
remarkable article "
The Heart of History: The Tale of Genji,"
that appears in Volume 10, Number 3 of the Association for
Asian Studies teaching publication, Education About Asia,
should be read by all world history teachers because it helps
educators understand the role of the classic novel in Japanese
history and culture.
Art history is an excellent medium for teaching about Japan's
classical period as well as regional Asian influences on Japan.
The Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art have a downloadable
teaching guide on
Japanese Art that includes lessons on the