Chapter

Studying the Aristocracy

Takie Sugiyama Lebra

in Above the Clouds

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 1993 | ISBN: 9780520076006
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520911796 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520076006.003.0001
Studying the Aristocracy

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On May 15, 1947, some two hundred titled noblemen gathered in the imperial palace to hear words of farewell from His Majesty, who, in the previous year, had already renounced his “divine” status and assumed a human role. Twelve days before, the new constitution had come into effect, designed to ensure universal equality under the law. The titles and prerogatives of the nobility were thus revoked, and the former elite became commoners like everybody else: the word commoner was now obsolete. This abolished aristocracy of modern Japan is the subject of the present book. The aim is to reconstruct the experience of the former nobility both before and after this constitutional change, as recalled and depicted by its surviving member and descendants. This chapter begins by setting out the rationales and objectives of this book. It then discusses its overall theoretical direction, the method used in gathering information, and the kind of information gathered.

Keywords: Japanese aristocracy; nobility; commoners

Chapter.  11625 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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