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Medieval Europe Versus Feudal Japan: Comparative Essay

Feudal Japan’s system of order is superior to Medieval Europe’s. In this response, the parts of Japan and Europe that will be analysed are religion, crime and punishment, and wars. This will be done through the examination of Shintoism and Catholicism, the cruelty of the trials and the morality of Seppuku as well as the Crusades and wars that the two countries participated in. Therefore, this response will show that Feudal Japan is better, starting with religion.

Japan’s religions are more logical and extensive than Europe’s. This is because Japan has systems like Buddhism and Shintoism which celebrate many gods and are more peaceful than Europe’s religion, Catholicism which only has one system and one god. In Japan’s religion, having more than one god is essential for society, as society could worship the gods more specific to them, allowing them to trust the gods they wanted to. Multiple gods make society a better place, as it allowed personalisation and specificity with individual gods because they worship their own. This can be seen through the way the temples are built, including the Sensō-ji temple. Japan’s religion is more rational than Europe’s because of the practices of the religions such as divination and spirit possession which are more dominant than Europe’s practices of praying and sacraments. Japan has an outstanding religion because of the acceptance levels they have, unlike Europe, who makes the public feel discriminated against if you do not choose to follow their one religion, and worship the one god. The Crusades are an example of why Europe’s religion is more harmful and detrimental than Japan’s religion. The Crusades were an attempt the take back holy land from the Muslim invaders all in the name of Christ. They were 200 years of fighting, looting, and pillaging their own country as well as 1.7 million people dying. It is suffice to say their systems were very inefficient. Compare this to Japan, who had no Crusades, and therefore, no death toll. It is evident that Japan’s religion surpasses Europes.

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Japan’s crime & punishment was not as cruel as Europe’s.

This can be seen through the way that Europe and Japan treated outlaws. Europe had trials, in which, either way, the victim could end up dead. An example of the trials was ‘trial by hot iron’ where the people would be forced to hold a hot iron and walk three paces and only if the person's hands healed after three days, they would be branded innocent. The trials, therefore in the light of the evidence, appear savage and cruel for society. Compare this to Japan, where punishments included labour, confiscation of property, and very rarely, the death penalty. For that reason, Japan’s crime and punishment overrules Europe’s.

Japan’s wars were not as detrimental to society as Europe’s were. This can be seen through the death tolls acquired in famous battles. In the Hundred Years War between and France, Edward the Third had his lands confiscated and then trying to declare himself king of France. The 116 year battle had a death toll between 2.3 and 3.3 million people, whereas Japan’s death toll, in the Battle of Sekigahara, which included Tokugawa Ieyasu taking charge of all of Japan. The death toll for this battle was between five and thirty two thousand people. This shows that Japan’s wars were not as brutal, fierce or bloody as Europe’s. Europe’s wars, such as the Crusades, were disorganised and ended with their country in ruins with a smaller population than what they had to begin with, putting a major dent in the economy, whereas Japanese wars tended to have some sort of strategy and backup plan with them, as well as leaving the rest of the country unaffected. This shows that Japan was a more stable, less brutal, and harmonic country. Compared to Japan, Europe seems like they don’t care about their country, prefer to loot and pillage and enjoy destroying their country and killing people. In a war, if a samurai was taken hostage, they would have the opportunity to commit seppuku. Seppuku is a form of ritual suicide which allows the samurai to admit they have done something wrong. This shows virtue and morality, unlike the Europeans, who had no way to die with dignity, if they were taken prisoner. Therefore, Japan’s wars were more peaceful than Europe’s, and clearly better for its society.

In conclusion, Feudal Japan’s system of order is superior to Medieval Europe’s, due to Japan’s religion, crime and punishments, and wars being a cut above Europe’s. This response has analysed Shintoism and Catholicism, the cruelty of trials and the morality of Seppuku as well as the brutality of the wars participated in by both countries. After the examinations of these components of Medieval Europe and Feudal Japan, the conclusion established is that Japan’s system of order is greater than Europes.

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