The feudal Japanese society and feudal European societies took different moral attitudes and different stances about land ownership. Also, the feudal period of Japanese history was more persistent, partially due to Japan's self-imposed relative isolation from the outside world.Continue Reading
One of the defining characteristics of feudalism is the relationship between the warrior class/nobility and the peasantry. In Japan, moral beliefs centered around filial piety and the idea of duty. The daimyo and samurai had a moral obligation to protect the peasants living on their land, while the peasants had a moral obligation to respect and pay food taxes to the nobility in return. Neither party, culturally speaking, could sway from this arrangement. By contrast, the knights and peasants of Europe viewed feudalism as a reciprocal benefit, but were more flexible on the moral aspect.
The samurai of Japan did not independently own land. Instead, the daimyo allotted them a portion to live on and paid an income based in rice.
The Japanese feudal system was also more resistant to change. After the unification of Japan in the early 1600s, the country expelled all foreigners in 1639, and it closed off the land, aside from a Dutch trading post in Nagasaki and a few other ports. This nearly eliminated foreign influence and most importantly firearms, which were a force equalizer that helped eliminate the knights' hold over Europe.Learn more about Middle Ages