Students and teachers can work through a general lesson on
medieval Japan and beyond in
The Age of the Samurai.
Literature can be used as a window to better understand the cultural
changes and the fighting that surrounded much of medieval Japanese history.
The Tale of Heike also assist students in understanding the
trauma of the Gempei War
between two great families that marked the beginning of the era and
the rise of the first shogun. Japan faced and surmounted two attempted Mongol invasions in 1274 and 1281. Interested students can use original scrolls and gain a visual sense of these seminal events in Japan's history.
One of the major cultural events of the medieval period was the
expansion of Buddhism from a religion of a few aristocrats to that
of all classes of society. Educators and students can access concise
but content-rich lessons on both
The Origins of Buddhism and
Buddhism in Japan
and gain a basic understanding of this spiritual tradition and its role
in Japan. Those teachers and students who have more questions about Buddhism and its historical and contemporary influence are highly encouraged to explore Stanford Universities' interactive JGUIDE. The medieval period was a Buddhist age and the samurai in
particular embraced Zen. Zen Guide provides teachers or students who
are interested with a range of information about this sect of
Buddhism that would eventually profoundly influence a number of
elements of Japanese culture ranging from the martial arts to the
Teachers and students can explore
Japanese Gardens via the web and gain appreciation for one of Zen's most enduring
and world-famous cultural influences upon Japan.
Students can also explore Noh,
Japan's oldest form of drama
that was also influenced by Buddhism, and that developed
during the this period.
The end of the medieval period brought Japan's
first extensive contact with European countries.
Most American and Western students will have a better
background in European than Asian history and a lesson
Japan and the West should help students better
understand comparative historical events.