Bushido: (boo she doe) Literally, "Way of the Warrior." Central to Bushido are complete loyalty to one's master and readiness for death in an instant. Bushido evolved from a warrior ethic present since Kamakura times, and was influenced by Zen and Confucianism.
Fudai: (foo dye) The hereditary vassals of the Tokugawa clan. Also used to describe those factions friendly to the Tokugawa before the Battle of Sekigahara.
Fujiwara: (foo gee wa raw) The name of an aristocratic clan that had enormous influence during the Heian period.
Heian: (hay on) The name of a period (794-1185). During this period, courtiers controlled Japan from palaces in Kyoto, while living a life of luxury. This period saw great development in Japanese architecture, ceramics, literature, painting, sculpture, and textiles. Buddhism also gained greater influence; several new schools of Buddhist thought were introduced from China.
Kamakura: (caw ma coo raw) Once the seat of the Minamoto shogunate, Kamakura is a mid-sized city on the Pacific Ocean, close to Tokyo. Kamakura is also the name for the era of Minamoto rule (1192-1333).
Kamikaze: Literally, "divine wind." Great storms devastated the invading fleets of the Mongols in 1274 and 1281, saving the Japanese from further fighting. It was thought that Japan received divine protection, and this was manifestation of that favor.
Kokugaku: (co coo gah coo) "National Learnng." A school of thought developed during the Edo period. It emphasized Japanese traditions over Chinese scholarship and recent Western studies (rangaku).
Kyoto: (kyo toe) The capital of Japan from 794 to 1868. The Japanese capital is where the emperor lives, and was not always the seat of government. Heiankyo ("Peaceful Capital") was its name during the Heian period.
Minamoto: (me nah mow toe) The name of the samurai clan that achieved supremacy in the late twelfth century. The Minamoto ruled Japan from Kamakura from 1192 to 1333.
Muromachi: (moo roe ma chee) The seat of the Ashikaga shogunate, Muromachi is the name of a section of Kyoto. Muromachi is also a name for the period of Ashikaga rule (1338-1573).
Nara: The first permanent capital of Japan; also the name of the period when the city served as the capital (710-784).
Heijokyo ("Peaceful Castle Capital") is the ancient name for Nara. Oda Nobunaga: (oh dah no boo nan gah) 1534-1582. One of three great generals of the sixteenth century, he brought most of Japan under his rule. However, before he could unify the nation, he was assassinated.
Rangaku: (rahn gah coo) Literally, "Dutch Learning." The study of Western medicine, science, and technology during the Edo period; it can also mean study of the Dutch language. As the Dutch were the only traders with a permanent enclave in Japan during Tokugawa times, they were the sole conduit for Western learning.
Samurai: The hereditary military/ruling class of Japan. Shinto: Indigenous religion of Japan. Shinto is more a collection of folk beliefs and rituals than a codified religion. Central to Shinto are kami, often translated as "god" but perhaps better rendered as "spirit". Kami are as diverse as mountain spirits, tree spirits, rock spirits, natural phenomena (such as wind and thunder), and even famous people. There is great regional variation in Shinto practice, and the rites focus on purity, beauty, and harmony.
Shogun: The military governor of Japan. Minamoto Yoritomo was the first to claim this title. Subsequent Shoguns were also of the Minamoto clan, although their family names were different (Ashikaga, Tokugawa). Bakufu is the Japanese term for "shogunate."
Taika Reforms: (tie caw) Taika, literally "Great Change," was a governmental reform carried out in 645. The government was based on Tang models; Buddhism was the state religion. Government based on the Taika Reforms lasted through the Heian period.
Tokugawa: (toe coo gah wah) The name of the clan that ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. This period is called the Tokugawa period; it is also known as the Edo period.
Tokugawa leyasu: (ee eh yah sue) 1542-1616. A master strategist in his own right, leyasu built upon Hideyoshi's work to bring Japan under his rule. His decisive victory at Sekigahara in 1600 brought all Japan under his rule; he became Shogun in 1603.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi: (toe yo toe me he deh yo she) 1536-1598. Hideyoshi rose from a humble background to become ruler of all Japan. A brilliant strategist and general, Hideyoshi was a lavish patron of the arts and an innovative ruler. Often called a megalomaniac, Hideyoshi envisioned Japanese rule over China. Twice, Hideyoshi ordered the invasion of Korea; he died during the second invasion, which was then called off.
Yamato: (yah ma toe) A term used to refer to Japan, Japanese things, and the Japanese people. Yamato is also the ancient name for the Nara area, and the name of a historical era (circa 300 to 710).
Zen: A sect of Buddhism which became popular in Japan after two great monks, Eisai (1141-1215) and Dogen (1200-1253), made pilgrimages to China. Zen emphasizes individual meditation (zazen) as the means to attain enlightenment. Zen, popular among the samurai, profoundly influenced Japanese art and is the basis for Bushido. Zen is called Chan in Mandarin and Son in Korean.