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 advancement or samurai, anime or even shushi. But what events led to Japan that we know today? For lovers of this country and its history, I must say that they are in the right place.
Let's tell the story of Japan in Ages or Periods which is the most common to do. It is impossible to cover all periods in detail, and we are also not going to 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, in this quick and direct summary of the history of Japan.
The beginning of Japan's history
The main events start in the Jomon period (8,000 BC), favoring the fact that the Japanese like to tell their story almost always beginning in that period. Still living from hunting and fishing, they developed stone instruments that facilitated this practice, such as polished stone. They also developed the bow, arrow and spear. They lived in houses 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 begins with the polished stone and of agricultural instruments. But with the reception of immigrants, rice culture began, which brought about 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, its territory was divided into clans. In historical documents, like the Chinese document of the Han dynasty, it refers to Japan as "country of a hundred kingdoms".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 fourth century, Yamato was consolidated. Yamato came to exercise dominion over diverse nations like to the north of Kyushu, the valley of Yamato and also Izumo. It is possible to say, due to indications, that the origin of the emperors started there, in Yamato.
During this period, immigrants from China and Korea began to appear, to teach the Japanese the art of handicrafts. From this, these immigrants bring not only their art, but also the Buddhist religion. It was in the Yamato dynasty that Japan's political unification took place.
Curiosity: Today, tombs are still preserved where emperors were buried. One of the most popular is by Emperor Nintoku, located in Sakai, Osaka.
Asuka period (500 AD)
During this period, Buddhism was introduced along with a series of conflicts across the country. The prince Shotoku builds a Buddhist temple of Horry, thus representing the beginning of the Buddhist presence in the country. This temple is located in the city of Nara.
In 656, Emperor Kotoku initiated the reform of Taika. In these events, historians use it to mark the end of the Asuka period. Taika's reform introduced the Ritsuryô regime. During this period, there was also the sending of Japanese to China and the establishment of the divine figure of the Emperor. In the 6th century, Japan invaded Korea, which lived under strong Chinese influence, and assimilated a lot to its Korean culture. Before the Period Nara, happens the Hakuhō period (673 AD).
Nara period (710 AD)
In the year 710 AD, the city of Nara then became the capital of Japan. Kyoto developed and became the main political and cultural center.
There were small events after that 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 from Japan;
The Emergence of Samurai
In the 10th century, Samurai emerged as a social class (Bushi). They settled in the government from the Taira clan (1167). The samurai followed a honor code called Bushido. In that code, it was better to die with honor than to live without it. Samurai ceased to be a social class from the year 1878, due to Meiji restoration.
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 ability to katana. Several wars and important events in the history of Japan happened 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 Kanagawa treaty, with the USA seeking to modernize Japanese industry. This causes the Japanese ports, previously closed and Japan isolated, to be opened. Time when, with the advance of capitalism, new industries were needed.
In 1890, Japan started to have a constitutional government, based on the German constitution. Beginning in 1900, Japan began to face problems with regard to urban concentration, with the emigration of the Japanese to other countries as a resolution (1909). In 1912, the Emperor Meiji dies, having ruled Japan for 45 years, which internally strengthened Japan and modernized the industrial, social and political sectors during his rule.
With the death of Emperor Meiji, instead, Japan has taken over his country from the Emperor Taishō. It was during his rule that Japan participated in the First World War alongside its allies.
In his government, Taishō managed to monopolize the Asian market. His government is marked by ups and downs, like democracy; economic growth and rise of nationalist ideals.
From 1921 to the present day
In 1921, Emperor Taishō cedes power to his son Michinomiya Hirohito, due to health problems, with Hirohito's rise as Emperor. Japan participates in World War II, but its entry into that war was already doomed to failure. In 1941, Japanese air forces attacked 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 damage of the war.
Japan quickly recovered from the war and became one of the largest economic powers in the world. We then arrived in Japan that 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, perhaps some isolated articles on the site can help you learn more about the history of Japan.