BC Social Studies Lesson Plans

Feudalism in Europe and Japan

Grade 8


Feudalism in Europe and Japan

Big Idea

Contacts and conflicts between peoples stimulated significant cultural, social, political change.

Essential Question

How do Western and Eastern social structures and rights compare?

Learning Standards Content

Students are expected to know the following:

  • social, political, and economic systems and structures.

Curricular Competencies

Students are expected to be able to do the following:

  • make ethical judgments about past events, decisions, or actions, and assess the limitations of drawing direct lessons from the past. (ethical judgment)

Core Competencies

I can describe what life was like in medieval Japan and Europe.

I can analyze social structures and rights in feudal Japan and Europe.

I can determine whether European feudalism or Japanese feudalism was more fair and provide evidence to support my point of view.

First People's Principles of Learning

Learning involves generational roles and responsibilities.
  • Provide students with their school’s code of conduct. Ask what these expectations for behaviour show about the values of their school community.
  • Explain that in the Middle Ages, both knights and samurai had codes of conduct too.
  • Show the 2-minute video Chivalry in the Middle Ages.
  • Have students work in pairs to write a definition for chivalry. Ask what chivalry shows about the values of European society in the Middle Ages.
  • Show the 2-minute video Bushido: 7 Virtues.
  • Have students work in pairs to write a definition for bushito. Ask what bushito shows about the values of Japanese society in the Middle Ages.
  • Create a list of 5 rules based on the chivalric code for a knight.
  • Create a haiku (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables) based on bushido for a samurai.
  • Explain that although Japan and Europe did not have any direct contact with one another during medieval times, they independently developed very similar socio-political systems known as the feudal system.
  • Ask “What do you already know about the feudal system? What do you wonder about the feudal system?” Have students share ideas with a partner.
  • Show the 2-minute video Life in Medieval Britain. Ask, “What was life like in feudal Britain? Have students share ideas with a partner.
  • Show the 3-minute video Feudal Japan. Ask “What was life like in feudal Japan?” Have students share ideas with a partner.
  • Provide students with access to the article Feudalism in Japan and Europe and a copy of the “Feudalism Comparison Chart”. Have them work with a partner to read the article and complete the chart.


  • How did social structures and rights compare in feudal Europe and feudal Japan?
  • Which version of feudalism, European or Japanese, do you think is more fair? Provide reasons to support your point of view.
  • Provide students with a variety of works of art from feudal Europe and feudal Japan.
  • Have students compare these two artistic traditions and comment on what each shows about culture, community, time, and place.

The Center for Learning. [n.d.] “Japanese and European Feudalism.”




“Chivalry in Action: Educational Matinee.” [n.d.] Medieval Times High School Teacher Study Guide and Lesson Planshttps://26f0e93507f1221f2f62-e090abc5acdce5aaadbbe9487184e52b.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/media/edu-portal/downloads/MT-Edu-Materials-HS.pdf


Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2020. “Medieval Art.” 



Sutori. [n.d.] “Medieval England vs Medieval Japan.” 



Szczepanski, Kallie. 2020. “Feudalism in Japan and Europe.” Thought.co.



University of Colorado Boulder. 2008. “A Case Study of Medieval Japan through Art: Samurai Life in Medieval Japan.”



“Western Civilization: Feudalism.” [n.d.] Lumen Learning.



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Last Reviewed

February 01, 2023

Produced by JES

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