Even though most people think that the feudalism an invention by the Europeans, when really the Japanese invented a form of feudalism independent of the European at about the same time that feudalism was at its height in Europe. Although these two feudalistic societies are very different in several important ways, they also have some common similarities. This section, Medieval Japan vs. Medieval Europe will show you some similarities and differences between these two feudal systems.
Perhaps the most important similarity between Japanese and European feudalism for most people was the fact that they were both hereditary caste systems.
European and Japanese feudalism were similar in the fact that they both developed out of a need for protection. In Europe, invasions from outside groups, such as the Vikings, Muslims and Magyars (Hungarians), created problems for the lords. They divided their land amongst various vassals, or lower-ranking lords, who pledged loyalty and military service. In Japan, the decline of the central government allowed private armies to form, and similar to feudalism in Europe, the farmers wanted protection so they gave land to warlords, called daimyo, in exchange. Feudalism in both regions was based on a system of mutual obligations. For example, when a lord granted a fief (a land estate) to a vassal, that vassal would pledge his loyalty to the lord and give him advice and occasional money payments. In addition, he was required to provide forty days per year of military service to the lord. In Japan, a local farmer or landowner seeking protection would give some of his land to a daimyo, who in turn would vow to protect that landowner. In this way, the vassals and daimyos gained power and land while the lords and farmers/landowners gained protection from enemies. Finally, both systems of feudalism influenced the society so much that in some contexts today the term feudalism refers collectively to the government, culture, and social structure of an nation as well as the actual structure of feudalism itself. In Europe, feudalism formed the basic social class structure. Each lord would have vassals, who in turn had lower vassals below them. Feudalism created the need for knights, warriors who fought for their local lords. Also, peasants formed a large part of the culture, not only forming a large part of medieval Europe's population, but also performing most of the work on the estate. When a vassal received a fief, the peasants were included along with the land. In Japan, the peasants were the farmers and small landowners. Japanese samurai were similar to the knights in that they were local warriors who fought for their lords. These lords, the daimyo, who gained their power from the accumulation of land, eventually became powerful leaders in Japan under the shogun, or supreme military ruler.
Feudalism developed slightly later in Japan than in Europe. Europe's feudalism was influenced most likely by the Roman empire and Germanic tribes. Japan's feudal tradition can be traced to T'ang China and the uji organization in early Japan. The most probable cause of this delay must have been because of Japan's isolation from lack of invasions from foreign countries or city states. Both systems began with legalistic attitudes and stressed vassal-lord- obligations, designed to ensure the allegiance of the former in periods of consecutive wars. The legal foundations were very different in the Japanese and European feudal systems. European feudalism was grounded in Roman legal structure, as for Japan feudalism had as its basis Chinese Confucian morality.
Japanese and European Feudalism
The system of feudalism also lasted longer in Japan than it did in Europe. Problems with inheritance became the main weakness and reason for the fall of Europe's feudalism system. The centralization of strong lordships, whether as kings (such as England or France's rulers) or territorial rules (Holy Roman empire), undercut the localization of government which was essential to feudalism. Japan's warriors had to follow the code of Bushido which is very similar to the Code of Chivalry which the knights of Europe followed. The Emperor of Japan was seen as a god unlike Europe who saw their kings and queens as ruling by permission by god not as god his/her self.
Comparing Japanese and European Feudalism?
Japan and Europe already have many similarities and differences in many categories such as their geographic location and their culture but they also have similarities which come from the past history of both. Feudalism is one common characteristic that they had throughout history. They may differ but the many characteristics of feudalism can also prove they are the same.
Compare and contrast European feudalism vs. Japanese feudalism?
Feudalism was similar in Japan and Western Europe because they both wanted protection from attacks. Both places went through a lot of harsh warfare in their countries and many lower class people wanted protection from the breakouts, so they began to turn to the upper lords. In Japan, the peasants and artisans were worried about being killed, so they went to the daimyos or the vassal lords for protection. The peasants gave them their land and offered their service. They became farmers. The artisans became weapon makers. The daimyo, in return, protected the people from harm. In Western Europe, the serfs (peasants) were worried about attack and asked the upper lords for protection. As a result, the serfs gave up their land and worked for the lords. In return, the lords protected them from attack.