|CD-ROM with 42 images||$44.95|
Edwin O. Reischauer theorized that Japan's ability to move easily into the modern world is due to the fact that Japan had a feudal period similar to Western feudalism. This theory is still generating controversy, but the castle, the towns that grew up around castles, and the people who lived in these towns and castles are accepted as key elements in Japan's modernization by people on either side of Reischauer's thesis. This curriculum unit focuses on these three elements and can be used in middle and high school classes of world geography, history, or culture. Though the unit primarily concerns Japan, there are points where comparisons can be made to similar phenomena in the West. How far such comparative studies can be taken is left to the individual teacher.
This unit is a image-based introduction to life in Japan during the late feudal period (1600-1868), known as either the Tokugawa or Edo Period. The images focus on architecture and defense features of the castle, the rise of castle towns as nascent urban centers, and those who lived in the castle towns. Students interpret the images in a closed-inquiry fashion to derive some basic features of geography, including the relationship between topography and human activity.
A castle town maze, an activity designed especially for middle and high school students, adds a first-hand sense of how towns were established to protect the castle from opposing forces. Students will also be introduced to the daily life of the four classes in Japanese society during the Tokugawa Period. Supplementary materials for both student and teacher can be used to extend the unit.
The purpose of this unit is to introduce students to the historical tradition of a non-Western nation seen within the comparative concept of feudalism. This will be done partly through a look at Tokugawa Japan itself, and partly through a comparative examination of the concept of feudalism. Although the unit deals mainly with a specific time span in Japanese history, it will nevertheless prepare students to make broad generalizations regarding the history and development of other world areas.