Daily Mail

Land of the rising sons

- Compiled by Charles Legge


What was the hierarchy in the Japanese feudal system?

The feudal era in Japan — 1192 to 1603 — was a way of structurin­g society around the holding of land in exchange for military service and labour.

It was similar to medieval europe, except peasants had a higher status in Japan than in the West.

There was a pyramid of power. The emperor was the figurehead and next on the rung were the warrior class.

The military commander, the shogun, was the de facto ruler of the country. Below him were the landholdin­g daimyos — from dai, meaning large, and myo, meaning private land — who were equivalent to our lords.

The samurai were warriors allied to a particular daimyo. They were renowned for their military skills, stoicism, discipline and manners.

Ronin were the lowest rung of the military class. They were not allied to a daimyo and, as they were often mercenarie­s for warring states, they could be vagrant and disruptive.

Roughly 90 per cent of the population were in the lower classes. As providers — farmers and fishermen — peasants were considered to be the most honourable citizens. They ranked above artisans, who were craftspeop­le.

Merchants were the lowest in the social order, because selling goods produced by others was considered dishonoura­ble. executione­rs, criminals and prostitute­s were outside the system.

Feudalism began to disintegra­te from the 17th century. The samurai became dislocated from their daimyos and there was increasing urbanisati­on. By the end of the edo period in 1867, it was defunct. Carla Gray, Cirenceste­r, Glos. QUESTION What are some of the stranger methods used to beat writer’s block? WRITeR’s block has affected many authors, including American Ralph ellison. The Invisible Man, his first novel, published in 1952, was a bestseller.

he wrote notes for a second book, but suffered ‘a natural writer’s block as big as the Ritz and as stubborn as a grease spot


Q : Why have historians been able to confirm a date of birth for Catherine of Aragon, but not Henry VIII’s other five wives?

Nancie Rutherford, Sevenoaks, Kent. Q : Do the stars of any film share the same first name?

Alyn Smith, Wilton, Wilts. Q : Who was the child featured on the cover of U2’s early albums?

M. Springer, Reading, Berks. on a gabardine suit’. he died in 1994 without publishing another book.

Victor hugo, author of monumental works such as The hunchback Of Notre Dame and Les Miserables, tackled this problem in an unusual way.

he told his manservant to take away his clothes and leave him in a room with only paper, pen and ink. There was nothing to do but write. A set time later, the servant would return with his clothes.

German poet and philosophe­r Friedrich schiller needed a particular smell to get him in the mood to write. he kept rotten apples in a desk drawer and would take a whiff whenever he needed inspiratio­n.

German theologian Martin Luther couldn’t write unless his dog was lying at his feet, while playwright Ben Jonson had to hear his cat purring.

When writing In search Of Lost Time, French author Marcel Proust needed total silence. he sealed out the world by lining the walls of his study with cork.

When stuck for words, U.s. journalist and essayist Joan Didion would seal her manuscript in a bag and pop it in the freezer. she’d thaw it to resume work. Carolyn Worrall, Salisbury, Wilts. QUESTION What became of doomsday biologist Paul R. Ehrlich?

PAUL R. ehRLIch was an entomologi­st — insect specialist — at stanford University, california, known for his ground-breaking studies of the coevolutio­n of flowering plants and butterflie­s. In 1968, he caused a sensation with The Population Bomb, co-written with his wife Anne. It began with the startling statement: ‘The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s, hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.

‘At this late date nothing can prevent a substantia­l increase in the death rate.’

It featured graphic descriptio­ns of the consequenc­es of overpopula­tion: famine, pollution, social and ecological collapse.

Despite being spectacula­rly wrong, ehrlich has remained unrepentan­t. he is Bing Professor emeritus of population studies of the Department of Biology at stanford and president of the university’s center for conservati­on Biology.

his book sold millions and became one of the most influentia­l works of the 20th century. his forecasts were grim: ‘In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.’

his fame and easy manner coupled with his doomsday prediction­s made him a popular guest on TV chat shows.

In a 1971 speech, he stated that: ‘By the year 2000, the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverish­ed islands inhabited by some 70 million hungry people.

‘I would take even money that england will not exist in the year 2000.’

ehrlich’s prediction­s had serious consequenc­es, with population control programmes in Bangladesh, china, Mexico, Bolivia, Peru and Indonesia.

In The Population Bomb, he predicted: ‘India couldn’t possibly feed 200 million more people by 1980.’ In 1975, Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi called for a national emergency to be declared.

she seized dictatoria­l powers and imprisoned her political rivals. encouraged by the World Bank, she embarked on mass, compulsory sterilisat­ion. More than eight million women and men were sterilised in 1976 and 1977 alone.

ehrlich recently featured in a cBs 60 Minutes segment where he asserted that the world is undergoing a sixth mass extinction owing to the rise in the human population and consumptio­n.

critics have pointed out his prediction­s ignore advances in technology.

Carl Sanderson, London N12.

n IS THERE a question to which you want to know the answer? Or do you know the answer to a question here? Write to: Charles Legge, Answers To Correspond­ents, Daily Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY; or email charles.legge@dailymail.co.uk. A selection is published, but we’re unable to enter into individual correspond­ence.

 ?? ?? Stoic: A samurai in the warrior class
Stoic: A samurai in the warrior class

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