Medieval world reflected in Japanese Literature Essay

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There are many methods of research that can allow a person to gain an insight into a specific time period and place. Historical records, books, essays, and school lectures are just a few examples. However, perhaps one of the most important and effective ways to see into the past is through literature. This is true for medieval Japan as well. The literature written during the medieval period of Japan is very different from literature written during earlier time periods, and the differences show the changes and innovations that took place during the medieval period, and thus reflects important aspects of Japanese medieval society. These changes and innovations can be seen by comparing a few of the works from the medieval period to …show more content…
Rather than stories like The Tale of Genji, during the medieval period war tales became popular. The most famous example of this is The Tale of Heike. War tales such as this focus on military strength, heroism, and Buddhist themes. This reflects the conflict ridden society of medieval Japan. The Tale of Heike articulates the war between the Minamoto/Genji clan and the Taira/Heike clan, with the victory of the Minamoto over the Taira. The focus on military strength, Buddhism, and the glorification of warrior courage is apparent throughout The Tale of Heike. An example of this is seen in chapter four during the battle on the bridge. During this section Prince Mochihito is fleeing from the capital, and finally takes refuge in Mii-dera temple after pulling up part of the bridge for defense. The Taira pursue the Prince to the temple and attack his men, and eventually win the battle. However, during the battle there are many examples of warrior bravery such as Tajima, who gains his name as the arrow dodger when he successfully blocks many arrows. There is also an obvious example of the importance of Buddhism in this chapter when Joumyou Meishuu, after his glorified attack on the Taira, “puts on a white monks robe, broke a bow in half for a staff, put on plain clogs, and chanting the name of Buddha, set off in the direction of Nara”(The Tale of Heike, 54). Another difference between The Tale of Heike and The Tale of Genji is the use of poetry.

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