Prehistoric Japanese Architecture

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Prehistoric Japanese Architecture

Today, it is easy to see and appreciate Japan’s technologically advanced culture and the way it is reflected in modern architecture. Although much of what is considered to be traditional Japanese architecture was adopted from other Asian cultures; more traditional buildings owe their construction to innovations made in prehistoric architecture. Japanese pre-history is divided into three periods, the first two—Jomon and Yayoi—named after pottery, and the third—Kofun—named after funeral mounds. Throughout these periods, Japanese architecture was characterized by its use of wood due to climatic conditions that ensure an abundant supply of wood, which regrows quickly; and topographic conditions that mean frequent earthquakes, and which make the use of stone masonry unsuitable. The flexibility of wood and its ability to withstand earthquakes make it a more durable material in these circumstances. Practical features that were simple in nature developed great significance as Japanese architecture evolved with strong influences from China and Korea.

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The Jomon period which starts from between 1400 BCE and 1000 BCE and ended around 300 BCE was named after cord marks engraved on wet pottery. Pottery found in the Kyushu from this period and thought to have been made by women is the oldest recorded in the world. At this time, Japan was still connected to Asia via land bridges, only after waters rose were these bridge obliterated and contact brought to an end. During the earliest part of this period, people lived in small surface houses and Japanese society was a unique mix of semi-sedentary hunter-gatherers. Archeological remains from the Early Jomon period show that people lived in small villages in large square-shaped pit houses, with grass roofs. There is evidence of heavy stone tools, and of underground storehouse pits for nuts. By the middle Jomon period, people lived in larger communities in complex pit houses with stone floors. Evidence also exists of burial rituals from shell mounds found from this period. During the late Jomon period, as temperatures fell and populations moved from the mountains to the coastal regions, contact between Japan and Korea began again on the island of Kyushu with rice, bronze, and iron introduced.

The Yayoi period, from 300 BCE to 300 CE, is named after the area in Tokyo where the first pottery remains from this period were discovered. This period saw a marked increase in interaction between Japan and its neighbors. The oldest discovered Yayoi site is Yoshinogari in Kyushu, where bronze mirrors have been found from China. Jade from China and bronze daggers from Korea have also been found in burial sites. Increased social stratification is shown by the reservation of special sections in burial grounds for an elite during this period. Raised floor buildings dating from this period have been found in Yoshinogari including watchtowers and granaries. Granaries were constructed on top of wooden poles to protect stores from water and pests, and also signifying the importance of the building to the community. This relatively fractious period saw frequent fighting between clans, and settlements were built on hills and surrounded by moats. Nevertheless, certain Jomon traditions still remained, for example, common people continued to live in pit houses.

The Kofun period, from 250 CE to 538 CE, is named after burial mounds dating back to 300 CE built in the shape of a keyhole. [â- ] These are some of the largest burial mounds found in the world. [â- ] These mounds provide further evidence for increased contact with China and Korea, including the appearance of terracotta figures in tombs. [â- ] Writing, Buddhism, and new methods of making ceramics were also brought to Japan during this period. Subsequent periods would be characterized by Chinese and Korean influences, with the wealthiest members of society, including the emperor, seeking to build palaces and houses constructed based on Chinese Korean models, and poorer residents dwelling in wooden Minka houses. [â- ]

P1 - 1. According to paragraph 1, which of the following was a characteristic of prehistoric Japanese architecture from 1400 BCE to 538 CE?

<QT2 Fact> D

a. raised houses

b. Buddhist influences

c. stone

d. wood

P1 - 2. The word “{innovation}” in the passage is closest in meaning to

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<QT3.vocab>C

a. enhancement

b. punishment

c. advancement

d. detriment

P1 - 3. Which of the sentences below best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence in the passage? {Throughout these periods, Japanese architecture was characterized by its use of wood due to climatic conditions that ensure an abundant supply of wood, which regrows quickly; and topographic conditions that mean frequent earthquakes, and which make the use of stone masonry unsuitable.} Incorrect choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.

<Sentence Simplification>D

a. The early, middle, and late Jōmon periods all had drastically different climates, resulting in different structural requirements.

b. Prehistoric Japanese construction favored wood over stone.

c. The Jomon, Yayoi, and Kofun periods used large amounts of wood in construction.

d. Environmental factors meant that wood was predominantly used in construction instead of stone.

P2 - 4. According to paragraph 2, which of the following best describes the Jomon pottery found in the Omori shell-mound near Tokyo?

<QT2. Fact>B

a. They were abandoned when people moved from the mountains due to declining temperatures.

b. They were an important part of ceremonial and burial rites.

c. They were the first known pots created anywhere in the world.

d. They were acquired through trade with neighboring countries.

P2 – 5. According to paragraph 2, why were Japanese people described as semi-sedentary during the Neolithic period?

<inference>B

a. only men went out to hunt and gather food while women remained at home

b. although people lived in fixed settlements people survived by a gathering nuts and hunting

c. a large migration was made from the mountains to the coastal regions in the middle of the period

d. frequent fighting by opposing tribes meant that warfare was common

P2 - 6. Why does the author provide the information that “During the late Jomon period, as temperatures fell and populations moved from the mountains to the coastal regions, contact between Japan and Korea began again on the island of Kyushu with rice, bronze, and iron introduced.”?

<QT5.Rhetorical purpose>B

a. To suggest that the Japanese faced a major climatic disaster during the Jomon period.

b. To indicate how life in the late Jomon period fundamentally changed prior to the Yayoi period.

c. To support the idea that Japan was undergoing a transition to an agrarian society.

d. To provide examples of factors that contributed to architectural advancement in the Jomon period.

P2 - 7. The word “{rituals}” in the passage is closest in meaning to

<QT3.vocab>D

a. fashions

b. inheritances

c. habits

d. customs

P3 - 8. The word “{nevertheless}” in the passage is closest in meaning to

<QT3.vocab>B

a. in any case

b. in spite of this

c. notwithstanding

d. never mind

P3 - 9. According to paragraph 3, what was true of Japanese architecture during the Yayoi period from 300 BCE to 300 CE?

<QT6. Fact>A

a. It was constructed based on practical reasons such as pests and excess water.

b. It was elaborate in design and richly furnished with elaborate pottery.

c. It was extremely primitive despite a considerable increase in outside influences.

d. It was not very durable due to frequent earthquakes and natural disasters.

P5 - 10. What purpose does paragraph 4 serve in the larger discussion of Japanese architecture?

<QT5.Rhetorical purpose>C

a. To emphasize how long it took for Japanese architecture to evolve into the architecture we see today

b. To argue that Japanese architecture was not influenced by neighboring countries

c. To compare how Japanese architecture changed during the Kofun period with previous eras

d. To describe how Japanese began to construct more buildings for funeral ceremonies

P4 - 11. According to paragraph 4, all of the following is NOT mentioned in paragraph 4 as an influences from China and Korea on new styles of construction during the Kofun period, EXCEPT?

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<QT2 Negative>D

a. social status

b. Shintoism

c. wealth

d. design

P6 - 12. The word “{dwelling}” in the passage is closest in meaning to <QT3.vocab>C

a. settling

b. farming

c. inhabiting

d. constructing

P6 - 13. Look at the four squares [â- ] that indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage. <QT7.insertion>2nd

Kofun ranged from over 400m to just a few meters long, with the largest having been attributed to Emperor Nintoku.

14. Directions: An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage. This question is worth 2 points. <QT8.summary>A,B,D

Drag your answer choices to the spaces where they belong. To remove an answer choice, click on it. To review the passage, click VIEW TEXT.

Japanese prehistoric architecture was shaped by foreign influence, as well as the simplicity of earlier Neolithic eras.

Answer Choices

a. Prehistoric Japanese architecture mainly used wood due to its flexibility and widespread availability on the Japanese Islands.

b. The Jomon period was unique in that although the Japanese people were hunter-gathers, they lived in pit houses grouped in small villages.

c. Temperatures fell during the late Jomon period causing a population crash and encouraging contact with neighboring countries.

d. Architecture in the Yayoi and Kofun periods was characterized by increased exchange with neighboring countries and showed evidence of increasing social hierarchies.

e. The oldest discovered Yayoi site is in Tokyo, this site provides records of contact with neighboring countries including jade from China and bronze daggers from Korea.

(f) Architecture in Kofun period was characterized by its raised construction to protect against water and pests.