History of Japan


The history of Japan entails a time line dating from the Asuka Era in the 5th century A.D. to the Showa Era, dated 1926 to 1989. As a matter of public records the events which occurred within each of these eras, depicts a country rich in history and, though filled with devastation, war, and hard times, these have made the land and its people what it is today.

The Asuka Era

538 – 552
Introduction of Buddhism from Korea

604
Prince Shotoku delivers his 17 Article Constitution, establishing governmental authority

645
Taika no Kaishin takes place as the first of many successful seizures of political power

674
Battle of Jin Shin occurs as the struggle between two brothers for the throne ensues.

The Nara Era

This period is so-named for the city where the first permanent capital of Japan was located.

The Heian Era

903
The Revolt of Taira-no-Masakado sees the Kingdom of Kanto established.

1159 The Heiji War started the feudal period in Japan.

1185 The Battle of Dannoura ends the war between the Taira and Minimato troops.

The Kamakura Era

1192 Kamakura Shogunate is official with first shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo.

1219 Battle of Jokyu is lost by Emperor Go-Toba and the allied Taira as the Shogunate prevails.

1281 The Mongolian War and the empire of Kublais Khan and the Turks invade Japan.

The Muromachi Era

1333
The Fall of the Kamakura Shogunate after Go-Daigo and a trusted general take Kyoto.

1336
The Rise of the Ashikaga Rule or the Muriachi Shogunate, so named for location, begins.

1467-1477
The War of Onin saw the Ashikaga become mere puppets as rulers and Kyota desiccated.

The Civil War Era and the Azuchi Momoyama Era

1600
The Battle of Sekigahara was the decisive war on the last shogunate, Tokugawa bakufu.

1615
The Battle of the Castle Osaka was the last great battle of the Samuri.

The Edo Era

1603
Edo Shogunate was established in what is now Tokyo and enlightenment began in Japan.

Sankin Kotai
meaning “alternate attendance” was effected under the Tokugawante shogunate and required Lords to spend six months in Edo, with family members held hostage till the lords returned home.

The Class System

Onmitsu
Spies who worked for a lord or master and were highly trained in ninjutsu and martial arts.

Ronin
These Samurai had no lord or master due to their deaths or loss of favor.

1637
The Revolt in Shimabara consisted mostly of Christian peasants who rebelled at the increased taxation to fund the Matsakura’s castle built in this city. After four months, the peasants were defeated and their rebel leader, Amakusa Shiro, beheaded.

1638
Sakoku was the governmental policy, instituted by the Tokugawa, that allowed no foreigner to enter, nor could any native leave Japan, under penalty of death.

1853
A record check reveals Admiral Perry and his U.S. Fleet came to Uraga for his first trip to present President Fillmore’s letter urging Japan to open the country up to foreigners.

1867
The Fall of Tokugawa Shogunate occurred after the emperor’s death, though its demise began shortly after Admiral Perry’s 2nd visit to sign a treaty complying with U.S. requests.

The Meiji Era

1867 – 1911
This period began modernization in the country under Emperor Meiji’s rule.

The Taisho Era

1911 – 1925
Emperor Taisho’s reign saw much advancement toward the modern Japan. World War I begins and Japan joins the Allies. Women earn the right to vote. The Communist Party is established.

The Showa Era

1925 – 1989
Political unrest, economic turmoil and the country’s first Great Depression, as well as World War II, took the Japanese through a long period of tragedy. However, their surrender and occupation by the Allies brought back much of the freedoms and financial security lost during the first part of this era.

Japan Today is more high-tech and modern than the U.S., and they continue to make strides in technology, agriculture and education. You will find people who still dress in kimonos mixed in with those wearing Levi jeans and t-shirts. It is a society that embraces their history and tradition while adding to it modern beliefs and amenities.