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In architecture,
all substantial progress must be attributed to Buddhism, for
it was by building temples and pagodas that Japanese ideas of
dwelling-houses were finally raised above the semi-subterranean type,
and to the same influence must be attributed signal and rapid
progress in the art of interior decoration. The style of architecture
adopted in temples was a mixture of the Chinese and the Indian.
Indeed, it is characteristic of this early epoch that traces of the
architectural and glyptic fashions of the land where Buddhism was
born showed themselves much more conspicuously than they did in later
eras; a fact which illustrates Japan's constant tendency to break
away from originals by modifying them in accordance with her own
ideals.

*The oldest ideographic inscription extant in Japan is carved on a
stone in Iyo province dating from A.D. 596. Next in point of
antiquity is an inscription on the back of an image of Yakushi which
stands in the temple Horyu-ji. It is ascribed to the year A.D. 607.

ENGRAVING: THE KONDO, HALL or THE HORYU-JI TEMPLE (Ji means temple)

None of the religious edifices then constructed has survived in its
integrity to the present day. One, however,--the Horyu-ji, at
Nara--since all its restorations have been in strict accord with
their originals, is believed to be a true representative of the most
ancient type. It was founded by Shotoku Taishi and completed in 607.
At the time of its construction, this Horyu-ji was the chief academy
of Buddhist teaching, and it therefore received the name of
Gakumon-ji (Temple of Learning). Among its treasures is an image of
copper and gold which was cast by the Korean artist, Tori--commonly
called Tori Busshi, or Tori the image-maker--to order of Shotoku; and
there is mural decoration from the brush of a Korean priest, Doncho.
This building shows that already in the seventh century an imposing
type of wooden edifice had been elaborated--an edifice differing from
those of later epochs in only a few features; as, slight inequality
in the scantling of its massive pillars; comparatively gentle pitch
of roof; abnormally overhanging eaves, and shortness of distance
between each storey of the pagoda. These sacred buildings were roofed
with tiles, and were therefore called kawara-ya (tiled house) by way
of distinction, for all private dwellings, the Imperial palace not
excepted, continued to have thatched roofs in the period now under
consideration,* or at best roofs covered with boards. The annals show
that when the Empress Kogyoku built the Asuka palace, timber was
obtained from several provinces; labour was requisitioned throughout
a district extending from Omi in the east to Aki in the west; the
floor of the "great hall"** was paved with tiles; there were twelve
gates, three on each of the four sides, and the whole was in the
architectural style of the Tang dynasty. Yet for the roofs, boards
alone were used.

*Down to A.D. 645.1

**It was here that the assassination of Soga no Iruka took place.

PAINTING

Little is recorded about the progress of painting in this epoch. It
has been shown above that during Yuryaku's reign pictorial experts
crossed to Japan from Korea and from China. The Chronicles add that,
in A.D. 604, when the Empress Suiko occupied the throne, two schools
of painters were established, namely, the Kibumi and the Yamashiro.
It is elsewhere explained that the business of those artists was to
paint Buddhist pictures, the special task of the Kibumi men being to
illuminate scrolls of the Sutras. We read also that, in 603, on the
occasion of the dedication of the temple of Hachioka, Prince Shotoku
painted banners as offerings. These had probably the same designs as
those spoken of a century later (710) when, at a ceremony in the
great hall of the palace, there were set up flags emblazoned with a
crow,* the sun, an azure dragon, a red bird, and the moon, all which
designs were of Chinese origin. Shotoku Taishi himself is
traditionally reported to have been a skilled painter and sculptor,
and several of his alleged masterpieces are preserved to this day,
but their authenticity is disputed.

*The three-legged crow of the sun.

AGRICULTURE

In the field of agriculture this epoch offers nothing more remarkable
than the construction of nine reservoirs for irrigation purposes and
the digging of a large canal in Yamashiro province. It is also
thought worthy of historical notice that a Korean prince
unsuccessfully attempted to domesticate bees on a Japanese mountain.

COMMERCE

Considerable progress seems to have been made in tradal matters.
Markets were opened at several places in the interior, and coastwise
commerce developed so much that, in A.D. 553, it was found expedient
to appoint an official for the purpose of numbering and registering
the vessels thus employed. The Chinese settler, Wang Sin-i, who has
already been spoken of as the only person able to decipher a Korean
memorial, was given the office of fune no osa (chief of the shipping
bureau) and granted the title of fune no fubito (registrar of
vessels). Subsequently, during the reign of Jomei (629-641), an
akinai-osa (chief of trade) was appointed in the person of Munemaro,
whose father, Kuhi, had brought scales and weights from China during
the reign of Sushun (558-592), and this system was formally adopted
in the days of Jomei (629-641). There had not apparently been any
officially recognized weights and measures in remote antiquity. The
width of the hand (ta or tsuka) and the spread of the arms (hiro)
were the only dimensions employed. By and by the Korean shaku (foot),
which corresponds to 1.17 shaku of the present day, came into use. In
Kenso's time (485-487) there is mention of a measure of rice being
sold for a piece of silver, and the Emperor Kimmei (540-571) is
recorded to have given 1000 koku of seed-barley to the King of
Kudara. But it is supposed that the writer of the Chronicles, in
making these entries, projected the terminology of his own time into
the previous centuries. There were neither coins nor koku in those
eras.

COSTUME AND COIFFURE

Up to the time (A.D. 603) of the institution of caps as marks of
rank, men were in the habit of dividing their hair in the centre and
tying it above the ears in a style called mizura. But such a fashion
did not accord with the wearing of caps which were gathered up on the
crown in the shape of a bag. Hence men of rank took to binding the
hair in a queue on the top of the head. The old style was continued,
however, by men having no rank and by youths. A child's hair was
looped on the temples in imitation of the flower of a gourd--hence
called hisago-bana--and women wore their tresses hanging free. The
institution of caps interfered also with the use of hairpins, which
were often made of gold and very elaborate. These now came to be
thrust, not directly into the hair, but through the cord employed to
tie the cap above. It is recorded that, in the year 611, when the
Empress Suiko and her Court went on a picnic, the colour of the
ministers' garments agreed with that of their official caps, and that
each wore hair-ornaments which, in the case of the two highest
functionaries, were made of gold; in the case of the next two, of
leopards' tails; and in the case of lower ranks, of birds' tails.

On a more ceremonious occasion, namely, the reception of the Chinese
envoys from the Sui Court, the Chronicles state that Japanese princes
and ministers "all wore gold hair-ornaments,* and their garments were
of brocade, purple, and embroidery, with thin silk stuffs of various
colours and patterns." Costume had become thus gorgeous after the
institution of Buddhism and the establishment of intercourse direct
with the Sui, and, subsequently, the Tang dynasty. Even in the manner
of folding the garments over the breast--not from right to left but
from left to right--the imported fashion was followed. Wadded
garments are incidently mentioned in the year A.D. 643.

*These were called usu. They were, in fact, hairpins, generally
shaped like a flower.

MUSIC AND AMUSEMENTS

It has already been recorded that, in the middle of the sixth
century, musicians were sent from the Kudara Court to the Yamato, and
since these are said to have taken the place of others then
sojourning in Japan, the fact is established that such a visit was
not then without precedent. Music, indeed, may be said to have
benefitted largely by the advent of Buddhism, for the services of the
latter required a special kind of music. The first foreign teacher of
the art was a Korean, Mimashi, who went to Japan in A.D. 612, after
having studied both music and dancing for some years in China. A
dwelling was assigned to him at Sakurai (in Yamato) and he trained
pupils. At the instance of Prince Shotoku and for the better
performance of Buddhist services, various privileges were granted to
the professors of the art. They were exempted from the discharge of
official duties and their occupation became hereditary. Several
ancient Japanese books contain reference to music and dancing, and in
one work* illustrations are given of the wooden masks worn by dancers
and the instruments used by musicians of the Wu (Chinese) school.
These masks were introduced by Mimashi and are still preserved in the
temple Horyu-ji.

*The Horyu-ji Shizai-cho, composed in A.D. 747.

In the matter of pastimes, a favourite practice, first mentioned in
the reign of the Empress Suiko, was a species of picnic called
"medicine hunting" (kusuri-kari). It took place on the fifth day of
the fifth month. The Empress, her ladies, and the high functionaries,
all donned gala costumes and went to hunt stags, for the purpose of
procuring the young antlers, and to search for "deer-fungus"
(shika-take), the horns and the vegetables being supposed to have
medical properties. All the amusements mentioned in previous sections
continued to be followed in this era, and football is spoken of as
having inaugurated the afterwards epoch-making friendship between
Prince Naka and Kamatari. It was not played in the Occidental manner,
however.



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