This week, we’ll be talking about Japan’s first great political reform: the Taika, or Great Change. We’ll discuss its causes, effects, its parallels with the Meiji Restoration some 1200 years later, and its legacy — which reaches a lot farther than you might think.
Listen to the episode here.
Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.
Sansom, George. A History of Japan to 1334.
Totman, Conrad. A History of Japan.
Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)
The rough extent of Yamato during the Taika reforms.
The massive extent of the Tang Dynasty, the rising threat on the continent confronting Japan. Some of the territory held by the Song would not be reclaimed by a Chinese dynasty until the Qing dynasty, some 1000 years later.
The Kingdoms of Korea. This image shows the disposition of the kingdoms in the 300s (hence the inclusion of the fourth kingdom, Gaya, which was destroyed by the time of our episode) but it should give you some idea of what things looked like on the peninsula.
The assassination of Soga no Iruka; Nakatomi no Kamatari is the one threatening the figure on the ground (Iruka) with a sword.
Naka no Oe, or Emperor Tenji, one of the leaders of the Taika Reforms. The text above him is a poem of his included in the poetic compilation known as the Hyakunin Isshu.
Nakatomi no Kamatari (Fujiwara no Kamatari) with his two sons. The Fujiwara would eventually become one of the most powerful and influential families in Japanese history.
Konoe Fumimaro. Can anyone see a family resemblance?