Japan in the Heian Period and Cultural History: Crash Course World History 227

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In which John Green teaches you about what westerners call the middle ages and the lives of the aristocracy...in Japan. The Heian period in Japan lasted from 794CE to 1185CE, and it was an interesting time in Japan. Rather than being known for a thriving economy, or particularly interesting politics, the most important things to come out of the Heian period were largely cultural. There was a flourishing of art and literature in the period, and a lot of that culture was created by women. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu was the classic piece of literature of the day, and it gave a detailed look into the way the Aristocrats of the Heian period lived. While this doesn't give a lot of insight into the lives of daily people, it can be very valuable, and the idea of approaching history from a cultural perspective is a refreshing change from the usual military or political history that survives from so many eras. Citation 1: Morris, Ivan, The World of the Shining Prince: Court Life in Ancient Japan. Vintage Books. 2013. p. 5 Citation 2: Morris, p. 14 Citation 3: Morris, p. 67 Citation 4: Morris, p. 114 Citation 5: Morris, p. 147 Citation 6: Quoted in Morris, p. 112 Citation 7: Morris, p. 198

Japan Heian Period Edo Period Murasaki Shikibu Hokkaido Kyoto Heian-kyo Emperor literature nobles aristocracy prince princess books scrolls poetry John Green Vlogbrothers AP History World History Heian Period (Event) Documentary Tokyo

Alltime Conspiracies
Really interesting period of history. Good job!
Living Tar
In the year -1,000,000,000, japan might not've been here
Rich people hired Samurai; Poor people who could not hire Samurai did not hire Samurai.
Iván Astigarraga
how about "sunrise laaand"
"Can you imagine a world in which rich people systemically receive lighter sentences for crimes committed than poor people?" You mean like now?
Thomas Thaxton
Japanese history is so interesting to me.
Marco Zwinkels
So who is gonna be the next shogun ? Vote now on now on your phones! And everybody voted so hard that the caught fire and burned down.
fernando torrera
So japanese nobility were basically Emo
knock knock It's United States
Attila the Fun
Compared to Europe Compared to Europe Compared to Europe Compared to Europe Compared to Europe Compared to Europe Compared to Europe Goddamn it, compare it to its more immediate neighbors like China, Korea and maybe India and the middle East. I understand why you compare Heian Japanese society to Europe but come on, don't you think comparing with the immediate neighbors is also important?
The Misfitt
Summary of world history in one sentence: "Knock knock, it's Europe"
Cities that exist : - Hiroshima X - Nagasaki X - Some others
I've been seeing phrases from bill wurtz's history of japan video in the comments and I love it
Arisa Kawano
Wow this was very nicely put together. I'm a Japanese girl going to a Japanese high school but the heian era was actually the main part of my finals. What the Japanese school system concentrates on is specific dates and names of people and events tho so this was a very nice rap up of it all esp since we never compare anything to europe. Having a westerner cover your countries history was a very interesting video. Also something that I would like to add for insight from a Japanese scholar is that the stories written by women in this era such as genji monogatari etc. are still studied intensely in Japanese high schools. Except ofcourse the Japanese language has evolved so much that we learning how to read it is basically like an english speaker learning how to read latin.
Pretty good.
Abby Ritter
I get that there's a habit of associating feminism with female supremacy, and that being opposed to feminism is being opposed to that supremacist attitude, but if you call John Green a feminist for acknowledging the achievements of women at a time when it was very hard for women to have any achievements, you're right, he is, but if you then criticise him for it, using feminist as an insult in that context, you are not arguing against female supremacy, you are arguing against women's achievements being acknowledged. You are arguing against women being important. You are not promoting equality or fighting against supremacy, you are promoting sexism.
Oh god, I didnt know there were so many bill wurtz watchers.... I LAUGHED MY ASS OFF!
Based Libertarian
Okay, I'm about halfway through the video and I just want to say... Go is awesome. Very fun. It's like a simpler version if Chess but with more strategy. I have a board but no one ever wants to play,
Hey John! Could you please do a crash course economic history next? As in, the Dutch tulip mania, the British South Seas bubble, the rise of the Rothschild, ect ect. Money is an often ignored aspect of world history which is really the key to explaining many of the events that happened. When applicable it is really a much more concrete subject to talk about than "resources" in the abstract. It also is likely the aspect of history that is most applicable to the modern world. Scientific discoveries happen once and permanently improve things, wars become less common as our world become more peaceful, culture and memesets changes. Financial crises on the other hand are something that are just as much of a problem now as they were four centuries ago and there are many lessons to be learned that are still applicable today.
Heian era Japan was so peaceful, elegant, tranquil, and overall, beautiful. No matter what people say, everyone has their own opinions. It was time the arts and ideals to push for women rights ! It was very peaceful and people actually elegant and very polite, makes me wonder where all that went now in days.....its a shame that such teachings are being lost same as tradition....
Ann Boylen
"Can you imagine a world in which rich people systemically receive lighter sentences for crimes committed than poor people?" That one made me laugh milk through my nose.
He is trying so hard not to be eurocentric but by always making comparisons with Europe, he is actually defeating his goal Bringing everything back to Europe, even if it is to portray Europe in a "negative" way is still eurocentricism The only way to not be eurocentric is actually to be indifferent to Europe especially when speaking on a subject completely unrelated to Europe or the West...
Ke Ni
I'm also in awe that Japan has so many strong female historical characters and contributors to history. The Sun in Japan is female, did you know? It really is so rare! And especially seeing as how modern Japan is horrifically male-centred in business, politics, and domestic life (although many women wear the pants at home).
oubaida obi
they died in a tornado
"How bout i do anyway?"
yjhm yhj
It's interesting how female writers were there in Asia while not much in other places
The last half of John's video about heian noblewomen living under "patriarchy" is disingenuous. When the 0.01% are privileged, they are ALL privileged. Heian women weren't "forced" to wear heavy (incredibly rich and elegantly designed) clothing, they *competed* with each other to wear the best clothing, much as the men did. Same with long straight hair, which it should be remembered had to be cared for and tended by handmaidens and servants to maintain its sheen and luster. Further, heian women were dominant consumers of poetry and art of the age, mainly *because* they were the leisure class's leisure class; they were not required to participate in military or political matters, so they were free to spend their time pursuing the epitome of leisure pursuits. John seems to be rewriting heian women's chase after extreme luxury as a struggle, while not doing so with the men. Why not? Because reporting history is second to reporting politicized narratives here. "Crash" course indeed.
Eric N
Is that a pro Genji?
Please do Ethiopian history. they have such an interesting past, yet no one ever talks about it
it's hilarious that what you see while John talks about upperclass women having the right to the manor rights during the Heian period is a print of courtesans from Edo Japan, which started about 500 years after the end of the Heian period, which itself was 500 years long. Major facepalm.
This video is kind of worthless thanks to Bill Wurtz.
Mr. Boma's Balloons
I could have used this 3 weeks ago when I was teaching this period to my 7th graders!
muh patriarchy
Raina Ramsay
So if these ranks applied to .1% of the population, and there were that many gradations of rank, and given the population of Japan at the time... How many of those rank divisions had, like, 2 people in them?
I wanted to learn about the heian period, not how great women are.
According to Wikipedia, Medieval Japan was from 1185–1573/1600. The Heian period is Classical Japan, Not Medieval Japan *Edit* - After a few comments on this, i realized you may of been referring to Europe's Medieval time frame. This can be confusing because Japan has its own separate Medieval time frame. They do overlap, But aren't the same. 
Chris Killian
Much better than Europeans? Why not compare them to Australian aborigines? Or Mayans. Kinda harping on the Europeans a bit aren't we?
bill wurtz is better
Patrick Hennessy
History of Japan anyone?
Ace Pilot
3:42 holy shit that's Kim Jong Un
The people in here make me laugh. I would PAY to see these anti-feminist take a college course like Cultural Anthropology, Minority Studies, Women's Studies, or most humanities classes for that matter! They wouldn't last through the first day before their heads exploded!!!   
is that the palace that burned down because everyone voted too hard?
Joseph Park
this didnt rly help me with history of japan he just talks about girl rights
What is it with aristocracy and inbreeding?
A E S T H E T I C ?
Dragonfly Jones
the elite always write history as they want
Brain Bites
Very informative stuff! I always enjoy learning about Japanese history. Also, Thought Cafe is doing a super awesome job. 
Renicanse video: The renicanse didnt exist because it only affected the really rich. Oh but this happened? -_-
Julian Smith
Pretty weird and disappointing episode.  You've spent so much of crash course talking about how history isn't just about "great men", but more about how ordinary people lived, then spend 13 minutes talking about how the top 0.001% of people lived in Japan a thousand years ago.  Sure, their cultural achievements might be interesting, but then so would the cultural achievements of the top 0.001% of Europeans (or anybody) living at the same time.  What I enjoy most about Crash Course is how it encourages people to put historical events into a broader context, but I feel like this episode missed the mark completely.
Scott Baromski
I have never seen such a collection of brain addled commentators in my time on YouTube. Seriously, what are all of you dimwits talking about?
Adam J
Patriarchy?  Well, done with Crash Course, thanks for the World History.  But I don't want to be lectured to with your political ideology.
Jack Evans
"Can you imagine a world in which rich people systemically receive lighter sentences for crime committed than poor people." Sounds like America.
Max Tan
We want a playlist about japan history! JAPAN HISTORY only!
"Medival times doesn't closely reflect Europe in medival times". ...What? I mean just... Fucking what?
LOVE the cartoon that starts around 7:30! Props to the animator! Pokemon, Hello Kitty and Sailor Moon prizes! And the derp who shot himself with an arrow! Bwahahaha!
1:40 Ah yes, the genji. Giant enemy crabs and massive damage. Good times.
before I watch this video, the only things I know about japan is earthquake, samurai and anime. Thank you crash course world history for the knowledge.
Xai CricketEmpress
THANK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!! I cannot TELL you how many times I've searched for Japanese History BEFORE the Muromachi and came up with next to NOTHING! I went out of my way to purchase a Japanese History textbook and never got to finish it because my bag got stolen. I didn't get to pick it apart like I would have once I read through it. THANK YOU for covering SOMETHING other than the Age of Samurai!
See, everything was great before you started on with the gender politics and feminist buzzwords. Stick to history maybe? And keep the agenda on your bedside table at home where it belongs? Politically motivated revisionism has been a huge problem throughout all of recorded history, don't add to that petty pile.
Garrett Carpenter
"The nice thing about doing boring ceremonial work at night is that there was a lot of wine." Sake, John, Sake.
Red Gina
Japan is an island by the sea, filled with volcanoes, and it's ~B E A U T I F U L~
Cynthia Li
I always admire John Green's wonderful Canadian references....sarcasm. I'm Canadian, lol.
Jack Bat
Can you guys also make videos (ASAP) based on Japan from post-WWII to present? I am currently taking a Japanese History class that covers that period (1945-2010). Among them, I need to understand the country's pop culture and politics. For the latter, I need to understand more about Japan's dominant political party: the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), including on why it was dominant for so long.
Genji Monogatari is also really fun to read! (Unlike some history books.)
They blackened their teeth for dental benefits believe it or not, it acted like a protective seal. The reason it was black is probably due to either aesthetics or the material they used.
Koreaaaaaaan history please, please ,please
+CrashCourse 2:45 Screw you John! We Canadians gave up the powdered wigs back in 2014. Get a clue and update your knowledge of Canada! Sorry to be so harsh...
Would love to hear from John what definition of Patriarchy he is using in this case as it tends to change depending on what people want to argue. Especially feminists tend to change definitions depending on what is preferable at that time. A tradition I am getting tired of as it makes having a proper discussion difficult.
We get it, you don't like the historical focus on Europe, hence the little monologue at the start of every episode, yet you insist on comparing everything to Europe and then moaning about how much worse Europe is/was.
John. I watch almost all crash course (all humanities at least) and really like it! Now, I didn't like this episode. Not only was the topic odd (really? so much to learn about Japan and you choose the Heian period) but the approach (you took a couple of jabs at the current "1% vs Occupy", wealth inequality situation but you left it hanging and instead went over to the importance of analyzing culture... if that was your point, many other periods/civilizations could have made that point) and even the script (you pointed out how women wrote these things like, 4 to 5 times in the last two minutes, other points were pretty redundant too). Your bigger picture point(s) (which are usually perfectly delivered, especially in this second edition of world history) were kinda diluted towards the end and I don't think there was a clear cut takeaway today. Take this (if you get to read this, kind of a long shot) as a constructive criticism. I really do enjoy most videos you and Hank make, and am a big supporter of most of what ya'll do. DFTBA
Justin Kennedy
It would make me very happy if you did an episode on the Maori culture.
If you're the prince of a country, who joins the army, generals and kings will play a big part in your life.
The aristocracy of the Heian period sounds very similar to the wealthy of today. I do agree that the Heian period is interesting because of its literature and culture ,but at the same time I can not help myself from resenting the people who wrote it because of their obvious narcissism. A large portion of the aristocracy probably never met a common Japanese person and those that did probably treated the common people as utterly worthless things. I would be much more interested in hearing about the lives of the common people who lived back then even if their simply consisted of farming and labor.
I’m a Gaint Wonka Bar
Tanay gaur
Make a video on pirates
Noel Z
Is it weird that I'm not even Forced, to drink from the cup of defeat anymore? I just keep it on my end table, and have a few sips throughout the day XD
Vivian Woh
Can you do Korean history next pls????? Goryeo and Joseon fighting!
Lill David
Someone should watch Terry Jones medieval lives
Mason Lee
"Can you imagine a world in which rich people systemically receive lighter sentences for crimes committed than poor people?" You mean women? Women serves 40% less sentence time in prison compared to men. Of course, you won't mention that because you're a feminist and according to feminists, only women are oppressed.
Dev S
So a bunch of corrupt crony incest socialite snobs who had nothing better to do other than be sad and broody is a sign of being well bred to write depressing poetry. in modern standards, they sound devoid of humanity.
Conrado Javier
Heian Period = Rich Snobs
6:00 Well I didn't need sleep... ever.
3:43 Guy on the right looks like Kim Jong-Un! Either that or I've been watching too many NK videos lately...
Watch Princess Kaguya. it's around heian era.
My Life Japan
I love the Heian Period! "Tale of Genji," baby!
Mr e
please make an episode of aztecs and prehispanic mesoamerican civilizations
Khaye Ayubann
Yu call dat a fan? DEES eez a phan!
10th century's Japan was 3rd civilization of the East Asia. actually Japan never was the first civilization of Asia before 19th century's meji restoration (means before American intervention into E Asia so that Japanese can arm with American weapons). they always were the tributary country so they were offering gold and silver to Korea and China. but If you are weeaboo like this guy, you'll never believe what I said even though this is just simple fact. because you believe everything in E Asia made by Japan for over 2 thousand years. because your dragon ball charactor Son Koku have to be stronger than Psy or Jackie Chan.
Jevon Hosea Thenadi
Could you do a crash course about the history of Indonesia?  I thought that it might be interesting.
Rean Combrinck
If you like this type of thing go check out "The tale of princess Kagugi" a new film from Studio Ghibli animated in this art style. Amazing
It would be really cool to see a followup to this on the Tang Dynasty, aka what Heian Japan was so obsessed about. It's large enough to have three distinct periods of history, has an interlude with the only female Emperor of Chinese history (one of the first female heads of state in the world), and was known for its literary development especially with regards to poems (Li Bai, Du Fu, Wang Wei). Bonus points for how its transition from the Sui to the Tang was actually not that bloody, especially because their families were cousins, and how Dugu Xin was basically the godfather of China at the time (because his many daughters were married out to the Sui, Tang, and several other prominent tribes in the North). ...might be hard to fit into a single episode though.
Jakob Germain
That Canada mention was a joke right?
I've read "Heian Period" as Hentai Peroid. Please send help
Here's an idea for your next video. Do a video on the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was one of the first democratic countries in Europe, it created the second constitution in the World and the first in Europe, our King's where elected (by the nobility but still it was a start) which was pretty unique for its time. At one time it was the biggest country in Europe and it just like the Mongol's conquered Moscow making it the second country in history who has ever done that. It was also wiped of the map of Europe by three partitions done by Prussia, Austria(even though 100 years earlier we helped saved them from an Ottoman defeat at the Battle of Vienna) and Russia. 
'"The emperor didn't really care, he was off somewhere writing poetry"
Hey look it is highschool politics, but Japanese and historically significant. History does repeat itself.
Great channel.
Gart Lonm
so japanese aristocracy engaged in rap battles too. wow
i love japan