Japanese Isolationism Period

Research Topics Presentation Tips History Essays Ancient Japan Isolation Summary

In the 1600s, Japan established an Isolationist policy. Foreigners were banned from Japan and Japanese were banned from traveling abroad. This was done to keep western influence from corrupting the country. No contact with the west made western culture strange and inferior to Japan.

Occasionally, Westerners washed ashore from shipwrecks. The strange appearance of these Westerners created quite a sensation among the coastal fishing villages of Japan (1:21). These shipwrecked Westerners had beards, body hair, and a strong body odor. Excessive body hair and strong body odor characterized animals. In the Japanese social hierarchy, the peasants were the lowest class. However, Westerners were branded Barbariansť and placed on the same level as dogs, lower in the social hierarchy than the peasants (1:279). The Japanese executed barbarians.

Japanese isolationism policies spared Japan history the fate of European colonization. Even after America forced Japan to open her ports for trade in the 1800s, (1:21) the Japanese remained elusive to the West and vise versa. Japan watched as Europeans colonized and exploited one nation after the other.

Cleary, Thomas, The Japanese Art of War: Understanding the culture of Strategy, Sambhala Publications, Inc. Boston, MA. Audiocassette