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Thread: When was Japan's Golden Age ?

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Question When was Japan's Golden Age ?

    Many countries or cultures have what we call a "golden age". In Ancient Greece that was somewhere between the 6th and the 4th century BCE. In Ancient Rome, it was about from 50 BCE to 150 CE. In England it coincided with the reigns of Queen Elizabeth (late 17th century) and Queen Victoria (most of the 19th century). In France it was the 18th and early 19th century. In the Netherlands it was offiially from 1584 to 1702. In the USA, it could have been the late 19th century or the 1950's.

    What period do you think best fit the description of golden age for Japan ? I personally hesitate between the Heian period, the Sengoku and early Edo period, the Meiji period, or the 1980's.

    Your opinion ?

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    Banned sabro's Avatar
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    In the US, the Golden Age is definitely now. (Cue "Right Here, Right Now" by Jesus Jones) But I think you have to define what you are looking at: the arts and humanities, the quality of life, the greatest extent of power and influence, military strength, technology, peace and prosperity? Or some combination?

    Although I would tend to think of either the Edo Period or Meji as "Golden Ages" (can you have more than one?) the current era has to rank pretty high. In Japan, they have had six decades of peace, prosperity and growth since 1946 that is pretty amazing. No wars, no internal armed conflicts... I don't know if there is another 60 year period in their history that can rival the current one- as lackluster and ordinary as it is.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro View Post
    In the US, the Golden Age is definitely now.
    Ah now, sorry, the USA is certainly not in its best period ever now; not for the economy (USD at 18-year low against the pound and many years against the euro, almost all big airlines and car companies bankrupt...), not for politics (the USA has never so hated and unpopular in the world as now), nor for culture (the American dream is not what it used to be).
    Although I would tend to think of either the Edo Period or Meji as "Golden Ages" (can you have more than one?) the current era has to rank pretty high.
    Up to 1990 Japan was doing very well economically, but things have been rather gloomy since then. Politically Japan is far from being comfortable and well-respected on the international scene (Asian neighbours ?). Culturally it seems that the more time passes and the more Japan is becoming Westernised. Just look at what people are wearing (European clothes), what movies or series they are watching (mostly American, with a recent increase in Korean ones too), or what food they are eating (very few traditional Japanese dishes but many hybrid ones inspired from foreign cuisines, always more European and American food).

    In Japan, they have had six decades of peace, prosperity and growth since 1946 that is pretty amazing.
    That doesn't necessarily coincide with a period of golden age. The country has to expand, be innovative, inspire or influence the rest of the world, be a world leader in the arts and sciences, etc. I do not see much Japanese influence outside Japan except for cars and very specialised markets (mostly manga and video games). They are not the one who make the fashion, who lead the world literature and cinema, who dominate scientific research, who have the most advanced legal system, or whatever. In fact, Japan has never dominated even East Asia, except from the Meiji period to WWII. Its influence in management, economy and even culture were stronger in the 1980's than now. It was the "Japanese miracle", while now the international media talk more about the land of the setting sun.

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    Grandmaster Ninja Duo 9's Avatar
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    I personally think the Golden Age of Japan was when the Hojo Clan was in power (repelled Mongol Invasion), especially in the military aspects. For that time period, Japan was very sophisticated, expecially for being a small island country with limited contact to rest of world. Heck, they managed to do the unthinkable and repel an attempted invasion by The Golden Horde, of course with the help of the famed Kamikaze. Then again, some may say it was the Tokugawa Period, or they may think WWII, despite what was done to reach it, was the peak of the Japanese Culture. I do not support the idea that Japan was having it's Golden Age when it was conquering most of South East Asia, at the expense of many lives. I merely see it as an experience the Japanese people as a whole have to learn from, and an obstacle that is preventing Japan's second, and probably better, Golden Age. No more isolation, dominating industry, an alliance with the U.S.(controversial, I know, don't hate me), and mostly positive international support in current world politics (Korea), all are good for Japan. Here's to a Golden Age like no other.
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    Banned sabro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Ah now, sorry, the USA is certainly not in its best period ever now; not for the economy (USD at 18-year low against the pound and many years against the euro, almost all big airlines and car companies bankrupt...), not for politics (the USA has never so hated and unpopular in the world as now), nor for culture (the American dream is not what it used to be).
    Golden ages mean different things to different people. The 50's may have been a golden age to some- peace, prosperity, and the big one income American dream, the Golden Age of Television... but it was also the Cold War, Korea, the McCarthy era... not much opportunity for Blacks or women...

    The United States has never had such long uninterrupted periods of economic growth. The Dow has hit a record high. Universities have record numbers of qualified applicants. We still tend to lead in areas of research, medicine, and science, and in the application of technology. In spite of our current president, we still are the only Super power on the block, and though we may not lead well, we still lead. We have higher rates of home ownership, greater upward mobility, and a higher level of education than any time in our short history. We live richer, healthier and longer lives. There is more opportunities for more people to achieve more things... with fewer barries to pursuing that American Dream. Poverty, drug use, teen pregnancy, and crime are all at historic lows. If that is not a little bit golden, I don't know what is.

    The fact that the dollar is low against foreign currency only means that we will be making a little headway against our huge trade deficit to some. The fact that many (not all) airlines have filed bankrupcy... or that GM and Ford are shakier than usual would be alarming if our economy in genral wasn't actuall pretty healthy. Politics is politics. Governments change every few years... and the next president could be wildly popular, you never know. And I assure you the American dream is alive and well. As for culture- do you measure it by popular culture- the cult of the celebrity, the health of Hollywood?

    I think people tend to undestimate the age they live in. They are living in a time of great change- some good and some bad- of progress and prosperity as well as conflict and challenge... to miss the invention and innovation, the optimism and opportunity-- until it is too late, is rather unfortunate. Japan and the US are in a Golden age... the age in the Pacific Rim that will challenge Japan in new ways to play an expanded and less insular role... an age where they will have to change their relationship with the US and relate in a totally different way.

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    When was Japan's Golden Age ?
    i think Taisho era...

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caster51 View Post
    i think Taisho era...
    Why Taisho more than another era ?

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    I think that Meiji represented a huge change socially and economically for Japan, a true revolution. Economically the 1950-1980's were very good to Japan, as well as having a positive global image.
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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    It is amazing how serious topics only get a lot of replies when the title appears to be negative or critical of Japan. This is an excellent topic for discussion and yet 4 people have replied in 3 days. I am sure that if I had chosen a title like "Japan has never experienced a Golden Age" we would have over 50 replies by now. Sometimes it's the only way to have people express their opinion. That is why I often try to imagine catchy or controversial titles, and play the devil's advocate if necessary, so as to hear what people really think and make them reflect more deeply.


    Back to the topic.

    Heian-jidai could be described as a golden age because it was the first strong, unified Japanese state, which also marked the foundation of a capital (Kyoto) that was going to remain the national capital for over 1000 years. Heian is really the birth of Japanese culture and national identity itself, as opposed to that of the Yayoi invadors from Korea. In that way it is similar to 16th century England (under Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I) defining a new English identity, or the 17th-century and newly independent Netherlands.

    Sengoku-jidai is the age of the great military heroes : Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. If the golden age isn't cultural, it is at least the golden age of the samurai and of the Japanese castle. It resulted on the longest period of peace and stability in Japanese history : the Edo period. In that sense it could be compared to the golden age of Rome at the time of Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus, although without the same cultural and political accomplishments.

    Meiji-jidai is the greatest period when it comes to socio-cultural and political change, as well as military and economic expansion. In that sense it is closest thing to a golden age Japan has ever experienced. For the first time in its history Japan won wars against its neighbours (China, Russia) and colonised other countries (the Ryukyu kingdom in Okinawa, Korea, and Taiwan). It is the first time that Japan enters the international scene as a leader. In every respect Japan has never been so great and never grown so fast as during Meiji. But can we call it a golden age when it was in fact just copying everything from the West ? The concept of golden age implies a cultural self-assertion and Meiji is everything but that. Meiji is the time Japan traded part of its Japaneseness in order to be recognised by the West as one of them.

    I see Taisho and Showa until 1945 as the natural continuation of the Meiji period. I see them as inferior to Meiji because it was the time of militarism. The aftermath of WWII was hardly "golden" as Japan laid destroyed, occupied and humiliated. The economic boom of the 1970's and 80's was not unique to Japan (the same happened in many Western countries) and the hindsight told us that Japan's bubble economy was in fact more a manipulation of numbers than a real "economic miracle" as the bubble quickly burst, leaving Japan is over 15 years of economic depression. Apart from the economy, there is not much in post-WWII Japan that could have been assimilated to a golden age, but rather the continual westernisation of Japan. The Japanese never bought as many brand products from the West, never ate as much Western food (from American fastfood to French gastronomy), never listened to more Western music and watched so many Wetern movies, and never dressed more like Westerners as today.
    Last edited by Maciamo; Dec 5, 2006 at 16:56.

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    I am not the master of the subject, but I think its 1980-1990 and the time they managed to replace henry fords business model, with just in time business style. It had huge global effect and those econical growth figures like gdp were pretty much outstanding. During that time Japan took also its rightful position among global car developers.

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    Why Taisho more than another era ?
    I really like Taisho Roman..
    new culture was boomed.
    after sino, Rosso-japan, WW1 , japan became one of big three country.
    Literature and the art were the ages that develop greatly.
    http://www.kasetsu.com/

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    TAN Hiroyuki Nagashima's Avatar
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    I recommend the Heian era.
    Because the basics of modern Japanese culture begin from this time.
    Japan before this time made a model of Chinese Law Code system,
    However, Japan improved (Ritsuryo) Law Code system in the Heian era and became the new politics system.
    A samurai was born from a noble militarily in this time.
    "The Tale of Genji" "Tosa diaries" are the bases of Otaku culture.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    A golden age is also a period that people like to remember with nostalgia, like Victorian Britain or the 18th-century Enlightenment in France. It seems to me that the Japanese have more nostalgia for Heian or Sengoku-jidai than for Taisho...

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    Banned sabro's Avatar
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    Don't it always seem to go,
    that you don't know what you got till it's gone?

    That would make sense. I always vote for right here, right now because there is no place I would rather be. This definition I think would exclude the present.

    If a golden is age remembered with nostalgia, then it is clear to see why the present age would never be included... we are living in it right now, and don't need to remember it. The problem with nostalgia of any kind is that it usually ignores the dirty, difficult, inconvenient and unpleasant realities.

    The Meiji era-- Japan's modernization and growth to becomming a world power- The Restoration of the Emperor and the end of Feudal Japan... the literature and block prints capturing the clash of traditional and modern... that whole exciting period of conflict and turmoil that ended isolation and destroyed the old order and challenged old values... I don't know if I am "nostalgic" for that age, but it does intrigue me.

    My friend showed me a hand colored block print of Mutsuhito and the Empress in Western clothing- a military uniform and Victorian gown... escorted by the guard in Western style uniforms... across the enterence to a Japanese stone castle. The juxtoposition of Japanese art styles with such European accoutraments is amazing.

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    Grandmaster Ninja Duo 9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    A golden age is also a period that people like to remember with nostalgia, like Victorian Britain or the 18th-century Enlightenment in France. It seems to me that the Japanese have more nostalgia for Heian or Sengoku-jidai than for Taisho...
    Who would not remember the peak of their civilization with nostalgia? These era's are debatably the best their country has been to date. I'm not disagreeing with you, but I still think it's possible to have 2 golden ages.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duo 9 View Post
    Who would not remember the peak of their civilization with nostalgia? These era's are debatably the best their country has been to date. I'm not disagreeing with you, but I still think it's possible to have 2 golden ages.
    2 or even 3. For Japan, when we see what historical periods inspire the most "jidai-geki" movies or series, it has to be Heian and Sengoku/Edo. The Japanese seem to be so ashamed of what they did from Taisho to 1945 that we never hear from this period, even in school history textbooks ! That is why I am surprised that caster41, who is Japanese, answered "Taisho".

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    there are many manga, movie of that...
    maybe only you dont know that
    PPl realy love ‘吳˜Q–Ÿ

    The Japanese seem to be so ashamed of what they did from Taisho to 1945
    I dont think so

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    Regular Member Nicholas0016's Avatar
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    I would have to say now...

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    Grandmaster Ninja Duo 9's Avatar
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    I think Maciamo is absolutely right in looking at what era has the most attention in the entertainment industry. But there is a small problem. The Sengoku-Jidai was when the country was divided and in turmoil. Clan vs clan, family vs family, former friends and neighbors could become enemies overnight. Definitely not a country at the top of it's game. But it gets much attention in manga and movies. Maybe I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that for a country to experience a golden age it was in peace and prospering.

  20. #20
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas0016 View Post
    I would have to say now...
    We could say that for about any developed country, and maybe even a lot of developing countries. The truth is that we have never been richer, never enjoyed such a level of comfort and convenience (electricity, TV, mobile phones, computers, cameras, cars, medicines, heating, air conditioning...) in the past, almost anywhere in the world. There are never been so many people, and consequently the economic and cultural activity in each country has never been so high.

    In this thread, I'd rather discuss golden ages that happened over 100 years ago.

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    Regular Member Nicholas0016's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    We could say that for about any developed country, and maybe even a lot of developing countries. The truth is that we have never been richer, never enjoyed such a level of comfort and convenience (electricity, TV, mobile phones, computers, cameras, cars, medicines, heating, air conditioning...) in the past, almost anywhere in the world. There are never been so many people, and consequently the economic and cultural activity in each country has never been so high.
    In this thread, I'd rather discuss golden ages that happened over 100 years ago.

    Ah ok sorry.

    -nick-

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    Ahhh, for me it will always be 1970 & 71 when I was in Fukuoka. Don't know if it was golden for Japan but it sure was for me.

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    What is... after the bronze, and silver age?

    I'll take Japanese history for $300
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    Banned sabro's Avatar
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    How about the post WWII Showa period?
    in 1952 Japan regained its sovereignty. Godzilla premiered in 1954. In 1956, joined the UN. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. established in 1957. In 1964 hosted the Olympics and debuted the Shinkansen trains.

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    Heian era laid the foundation of Japan's traditional culture we know today.

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