9 Maritime Asia and Early Modern Japan
(1) Japan and the Song, Mongol and Ming Dynasties
China_A Vast Repository of Goods and Cultures
The Song dynasty in China (960_1279) gave birth to many technical innovations. During the Southern Song period (1127_1279) in particular, Chinese merchants conducted extensive trade and exchange in Southeast Asia, resulting in the influx of a wide variety of goods from the Indian Ocean trade region via the China Sea. As a result of these developments, China underwent a commercial revolution (See Shiba Yoshinobu, Economic History of Southern China during the Song Dynasty, Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo). The Mongols who overthrew the Southern Song proceeded to expand their territory into the largest empire in the world. Goods from throughout the Eurasian Continent flowed into China under the Mongol dynasty (1279_1368), to which goods from the New World (corn, sweet potatoes, tobacco, cayenne pepper, etc.) were added during the rule of the Ming dynasty (1368_1644). Chinaware with colored glazes made its first appearance at the end of the Mongol dynasty, replacing blue-and-white china as the main type of Chinese porcelain from the beginning of the Ming period. At around the same time, silk was replaced by cotton as the most popular material for clothing. From the Song to the Ming dynasty, China thus became a vast repository of cultures as goods flowed in from all over the world. The cultures forming the basis of life in Ming China were completely different from those of China under the Tang dynasty (680_906).
The Cultures Brought to Japan in Tally Ships
The mid-fourteenth to early fifteenth century was the first period of domination of the seas of East Asia by the wak_(Japanese pirates), who reappeared for a second period of ascendancy in the mid-sixteenth century. Between these two periods was a hiatus of almost a century and a half from 1404 (_i 11) to 1547 (Tenmon 16), during which Japanese tally ships (ships of _tributary countries_ permitted to trade with China) made a total of 17 voyages to China. The quantity of goods carried from China to medieval Japan far exceeded those brought back by the Japanese embassies to China in the Tang dynasty (a total of 19 embassies embarked on voyages from 630 to 894, but only 15 actually made the trip). Although the missions to Ming China mainly consisted of envoys and scholars, even the official tally ships were actually operated by the shogunate, daimyo (feudal lords) and Buddhist temples. They also received substantial private financial backing from Hakata and Sakai merchants, without which the scale of the tally trade would have been considerably smaller. Sakai in particular was at this time flourishing as one of the world_s leading trading cities. The goods and culture brought back to Japan from China in these public and private tally ships resulted in a significant transformation in Japanese society.
The aspects of Chinese culture introduced to Japan during this period can be clearly distinguished from those brought back by the Japanese embassies to China under the Tang dynasty. The three main cultural legacies of Tang China were the ritsury_law, the castle town, and the concept of _authentic history._ The ritsury_system of government, the plan of the city of Heij_y_ and the Nihon Shoki were all modeled on the administrative system of the Tang dynasty. On the other hand, the main cultures and goods introduced into medieval Japan were Zen Buddhism, Song learning, copper coins, silk, chinaware, cotton, and the Chinese style of gardening. For the most part, these were cultures connected with everyday life.
In 1976, the wreck of a tally ship loaded a huge quantity of goods was discovered off Sinan?? in Korea. This ship apparently met with disaster on its way from China to Japan via the Korean Peninsula some time in the first half of the fourteenth century.