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Japan in the Muromachi Age

109 JapanMuromachi
Edited by John W. HALL and TOYODA Takeshi
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1977, Reprint Edition 2001 The Muromachi age may well emerge in the eyes of historians as one of the most seminal periods in Japanese history. So concluded the participants in the 1973 Conference on Japan. The proceedings, as edited for this volume, reveal this new interpretation of the Muromachi age (1334-1573), which was among the most neglected and misunderstood chapters in Japanese history. Both Western and Japanese scholars looked upon the period chiefly as an interlude between a classical era (the Heian period) and an early modern age (the Tokugawa period), the interim being regarded as a time of social confusion and institutional decay. As they learned more, historians saw the Muromachi age giving rise to new patterns that became important elements in a distinctly Japanese tradition; e.g., the arts of noh drama, suiboku painting, landscape gardening and the tea ceremony were perfected during Muromachi times. The volume brings together the work of Japanese and American specialists and shows that many features of Edo-period culture were anticipated by Muromachi developments. Although the volume was first published nearly three decades ago, it remains of great interest for anyone wanting to know more about Japan's historical development.


  • List of Illustrations
  • Foreword to the Cornell Edition
  • Preface Introduction: The Muromachi Age in Japanese History

Part One

  • 1. Muromachi Japan: A Note on Periodization
  • 2. Kyoto in the Muromachi Age

Part Two

  • 3. The Muromachi Power Structure
  • 4. The Ashikaga Shogun and the Muromachi Bakufu
  • 5. The Bugyonin System: A Closer Look
  • 6. Shogun and Shugo: The Provincial Aspectsof Muromachi Politics

Part Three

  • 7. From Shoen to Chigyo: Proprietary Lordship and the Structure of Local Power
  • 8. Village Communities and Daimyo Power

Part Four

  • 9. The Growth of Commerce and the Trade
  • 10. Sakai: From Shoen to POrt City
  • 11. Japan's Relations with Overseas Countries

Part Five

  • 12. Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and the World of Kitayama: Social Change and Shogunal Patronage in Early Muromachi Japan
  • 13. The Unity of the Three Creeds: A Theme in Japanese Ink Painting of the Fifteenth Century
  • 14. Development of Shoin-Style Architecture
  • 15. the Comic Tradition in Renga
  • 16. Medieval Jongleurs and the Making of a National Literature

Part Six

  • 17 Muromachi Zen and the Gozan System
  • 18 Rennyo and the Shinshu Revival

Glossary | List of Contributors | Index


  • "A specialist in European history, wishing to deepen his knowledge of the Japanese background, should not fail to seek out this book, for it is a passport to an initial understanding of an age that is visibly linked to some extent with the modern civilization of Japan." — English Historical Review
  • "It is almost impossible to find ways to praise this work which its producers have not already thought of themselves, and they are telling the truth. ... The genius of Professor Hall, an overpowering force in the construction of such studies on modern and Tokugawa Japan, is evident once more." — Pacific Affairs


  • John W. HALL is Assistant Professor of U.S. Military History in the Department of History at University of Madison-Wisconsin.
  • Takeshi TOYODA is Professor of History at Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.

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