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Last Samurai

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The Last Samurai – Traditional and Modern Economies

A traditional economy is an economic system that relies on a strong social network and is based on primitive methods and tools, whereas a modern economy relies on production, exchange, distribution, and consumption of goods. In the film, The Last Samurai, western Japan fights against the rebelling Samurai who do not wish to modernize and rid of their traditions. The vast differences between a traditional and modern economy are shown throughout the film as both civilizations express different means of production, military capabilities and cultural values.

The reign of Emperor Meiji was one of the most revolutionary eras in Japanese history as Japan underwent dramatic changes in its government, economy, and culture. The nation opened its doors to the west and embraced a new world of cultural influences. Japan was transformed into an agrarian society with an industrialized economy and a strict military regime. Revolutionized Japan created modern weaponry such as guns and automatic weapons that were made in industrial factories. Instead of carrying goods using horses, Japan modernized using wagons and trains which made transportation of goods more rapid and efficient. In the film, we can see the paved streets and buildings of western Japan, the use of modern clothing, and advanced military technology.

Conversely, the Samurai represent a traditional economy by their use of weapons, transportation, and cultural traditions. Samurai are of the warrior class who served the powerful shogun of a once feudal Japan. The Samurai follow a strict code of honor called bushido, “the way of the warrior”, which is based on values of loyalty, courage, morality, chivalry, rigorous physical discipline, and self-sacrifice. The Samurai wore elaborate suits of armor and carried around swords and bows and arrows which were individually handcrafted, instead of using guns that were mass produced in factories. The Samurai used horses as their means of transportation and as well used them in battle. The Samurai lived in small huts in traditional villages, unexposed to large buildings and busy sidewalks. The Samurai had long-lasting traditions and did not wish to modernize which fueled their rebellion against western Japan. Although their rebellion was powerful, the swords of the Samurai could not withstand the obliterating automatic weapons used by western Japan.

In the film, The Last Samurai, the divergences between a traditional and modern economy are shown through the Samurai and modernized Japan. The change from a traditional to modern economy affects production, military capabilities and weaponry, and cultural values. As seen in the film, a traditional economy has a strong adherence to ancient traditions whereas a modern economy depends on production of goods, industrialization, and modernized technology.…...

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