The History of Japan (日本の歴史 nihon no rekishi or nihonshi) is marked by major political, social and cultural events. When you think of Japan, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Automatically, it is common to think of its great technological advance or samurai, anime or even shushi. But what events led to the Japan we know today? For lovers of this country and its history, I must say that you are in the right place.
Let's tell the history of Japan in Eras or Periods which is the most common to do. It is impossible to cover all periods in detail, nor will we mention the Paleolithic period and some other periods that were short-lived. Our goal is to tell the story of Japan in a short and fast way. Let us begin, then, with this quick and direct summary of the history of Japan.
The beginning of Japan's history
The main events begin in the Jomon period (8000 BC), favoring the fact that the Japanese like to tell their story almost always starting with this period. Still living from hunting and fishing, they developed stone tools that facilitated this practice, such as the polished stone. They also developed the bow, arrow and spear. They lived in houses made of tree branches and covered with straw that were in holes dug in the earth. still in the period jomon started to use ceramics.
In the period known as Yayoi (300 – 500 BC) the use of metals along with polished stone and agricultural tools begins. But with the arrival of immigrants, rice cultivation began, which caused profound changes in the social, political and economic life of the villagers, since collective work was necessary for this service. As a consequence, there were divisions of social classes.
Curiosity: In ancient Japan, their territory was divided into clans. In historical documents, such as the Han dynasty Chinese document, Japan is referred to as "the country of a hundred kingdoms".
Kofun period (250 AD)
It is from here that religions and political regimes to be adopted in Japan begin to be defined. In the 4th century there was the consolidation of Yamato. Yamato came to exercise dominion over several nations such as northern Kyushu, the Yamato valley and also Izumo. It is possible to say, due to indications, that the origin of the emperors began there, in Yamato.
During this period, immigrants from China and Korea began to emerge to teach the Japanese the art of handicrafts. From there, these immigrants not only bring their art, but also the Buddhist religion. It was in the Yamato dynasty that the political unification of Japan took place.
Curiosity: Today, tombs where the emperors were buried are still preserved. One of the most popular is Emperor Nintoku, located in Sakai, Osaka.
Asuka period (500 AD)
During this period, the introduction of Buddhism takes place along with a series of conflicts throughout the country. The prince Shotoku builds a Buddhist temple of hõryuji, thus representing the beginning of the Buddhist presence in the country. This temple is located in the city of Nara.
In 656, Emperor Kotoku initiates the reform of Taika. In these events, historians use to demarcate the end of the Asuka period. Taika's reform introduced the Ritsuryô regime. In this period, there is also the sending of Japanese to China and the establishment of the divine figure of the Emperor. In the 6th century, Japan invades Korea, which was under strong Chinese influence, and assimilating a lot to its Korean culture. Before the Period nara, Hakuhō period (673 AD) takes place.
Nara period (710 AD)
In the year 710 AD the city of Nara becomes the capital of Japan. Kyoto developed and became the main political and cultural center.
There were small events after this period that were very important in the history of Japan:
- The beginning of the Heian period (784 AD);
- The consolidation of the Aristocracy (800 AD);
- Rise of the samurai class;
- Kamakura Period (1185);
- Genpei Wars;
- Mongol invasions of Japan;
The Rise of the Samurai
In the 10th century, the Samurai emerged as a social class (bushi). They installed themselves in the government from the Taira clan (1167). The samurai followed a code of honor called Bushido. In that code, it was preferable to die with honor than to live without it. The Samurai ceased to be a social class after 1878, due to Meiji restoration.
The Samurai really have a lot of history to talk about, but we need to continue with the vast Japanese history. The samurai's loyalty to their code of honor and their skill with katana. Several wars and important events in the history of Japan took place in the coming periods, below I will list some important points:
- Kemmu Restoration;
- Muromachi period;
- Sengoku period;
- Oda Nobunaga;
- Battle of Sekigahara;
- Edo period;
- 1603: Tokyo becomes the capital;
- 1871: Feudalism is abolished;
Modern period (1868 – 1926)
In 1854 Japan signs the Treaty of Kanagawa, with the US seeking to modernize Japanese industry. This fact makes Japanese ports, previously closed and Japan isolated, open. A time when, with the advance of capitalism, new industries were needed.
In 1890, Japan becomes a constitutional government, based on the German constitution. From 1900, Japan began to face problems related to urban concentration, having as a resolution the emigration of the Japanese to other countries (1909). In 1912, the Emperor Meiji dies, having ruled Japan for 45 years, who strengthened Japan internally and modernized in a short time the industrial, social and political sectors during his government.
With the death of Emperor Meiji, in his place, Japan has its country taken over by the Emperor. Taishō. It was during his rule that Japan participated in the First World War on the side of the Allies.
Under his rule, Taishō managed to monopolize the Asian market. His government is marked by ups and downs, like democracy; economic growth and the rise of nationalist ideals.
From 1921 to present times
In 1921, Emperor Taishō cedes power to his son Michinomiya Hirohito, due to health-related problems, with Hirohito's accession as Emperor. Japan participates in World War II, but its entry into that war was already doomed to failure. In 1941, Japanese air forces attack the US base at Pearl Harbor, declaring war on the United States and England. In 1942, Japan was showing signs of weakening due to the ravages of war.
Japan quickly recovered from the war and became one of the greatest economic powers in the world. We then arrived in the Japan we know today with limited territorial and natural resources, but with a strong and stable economy and industry. It was impossible to cite most of the important events in Japan in this article, maybe some isolated articles from the site can help you to know more about the history of Japan.