Unformatted text preview: aps we should marvel that the
system worked as effectively as it did; yet within a century it had begun
to decay. The aristocratic families, along with Buddhist temples and
Shinto shrines, started to accumulate private estates that were in many
ways similar to the territorial holdings of the pre-Taika uji. (We may note
that the equal-field system fared little better in T’ang China, the land of
its birth. After the failure of this system later during the T’ang, China
never again in premodern times attempted to nationalize land and parcel
it out by allotment at the local level to individuals or families.)
Another major act of reform was the promulgation by the court, in
702, of the Taihò (“Great Treasure”) Code, which specified the central
and provincial offices of the new government (some of which were already functioning) and set forth general laws of conduct for the Japanese
people. Also modeled on T’ang, the Taihò Code provided Japan with an 28 The Introduction of Buddhism elaborate and symmetrical bureaucratic structure of the sort that had
evolved over a millennium or more in China Although it functioned
smoothly enough through most of the eighth century, it ultimately proved
too weighty and inflexible for Japan in this early stage of its historical development. Beginning in the ninth century, new offices that were opened
outside the provisions of the Taihò Code successively became the real
centers of national power in Japan.
In 710 the court moved to the newly constructed city of Nara, which
remained the capital of Japan until 784. Before this move, the site of the
court had often been shifted, usually in and around the central provinces.
Some claim that the Shinto view of death as a defilement—and the death
of a sovereign as the defilement of an entire community—was the main
reason for this constant moving about. But another likely reason is that
the loose control of the Yamato court over the territorial uji in earlier centuries necessitated its frequ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.
- Spring '13