Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese by Takie Sugiyama Lebra

By Takie Sugiyama Lebra

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This newest paintings from Japanese-born anthropologist Takie Sugiyama Lebra is the 1st ethnographic examine of the fashionable jap aristocracy. demonstrated as a category firstly of the Meiji interval, the kazoku ranked without delay lower than the emperor and his family members. formally dissolved in 1947, this staff of social elites remains to be quite often perceived as the Aristocracy. Lebra received access into this tightly knit circle and carried out a couple of hundred interviews with its contributors. She has woven jointly a reconstructive ethnography from their lifestyles histories to create an intimate portrait of a distant and archaic world.

As Lebra explores the tradition of the kazoku, she locations each one topic in its historic context. She analyzes the evolution of prestige limitations and the essential position performed by way of outsiders.

But this e-book isn't easily concerning the elite. it's also approximately commoners and the way each one stratum mirrors the opposite. Revealing formerly unobserved complexities in eastern society, it additionally sheds gentle at the common challenge of social stratification.

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Extra resources for Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese Nobility

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16 Thus, this class began to aristocratize by copying the life-style of the court nobles. The Hojo’s invitation to the Kujo sons and royal princes, accompanied by court retainers, to assume the shogunal post might have had something to do with this aristocratization process of warriors, considering that court nobles, thus imported, did teach kuge life-style to their buke host (KK 1966, 44). The kuge’s tutorial role in this process remained significant even in the Tokugawa period, as exemplified by the o-oku , the shogunal harem, where kuge manners prevailed and kuge women served as joro, the top female administrators of palace women (KK 1966, 24).

Here the nobility is described primarily as part of the political system. The bulk of my field data will appear in subsequent chapters. Those readers who are well versed in Japanese political history are therefore advised to proceed directly to chapter 3. Above the Clouds Page 31 Two Creating the Modern Nobility The Historical Legacy The basic structure of the nobility under study came into formal existence in 1884 as the result of an imperial ordinance called the kazokurei . 1 The embryo had taken shape fifteen years before, which calls us back to the dawn of Japan’s modern era, the Meiji Restoration.

In the Tokugawa period, certain temples and shrines were authorized by the military government to receive rice revenues from their respective territories; the Ise Shrine, for example, was entitled to forty-two thousand koku (Okada 1977, 88). In many ways, then, the highest stratum of the religious establishment was on a par with the secular aristocracy. Prominent temples received royal princes, princesses, or sekke children as their abbots and abbotesses, noble headship that in turn elevated or maintained the temple status ( jikaku).

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