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(Text by Duane R. Hurst © 2013)

Click on a link to view its information and pictures.
Significant Event:
    Byodo-In Temple at Uji
    Construction of Himeji Castle
    Nintoku Tomb in Osaka
    Rise of the Samurai
    Sample of Japanese Art

Main Cities: Edo (Tokyo); Kyoto; Nara
Time: 500 BC - 1850 AD
Language: Japanese
Personage: Jimmu; Tokugawa
Religion: Buddhism; Japanese Religion
Related Country: Japan

Brief History:
      I have included only a few items concerning the history of this empire. A good source for more details can be found on Wikipedia or in history books.

Map of Japan
Click Map to Enlarge
      Jimmu was the first recorded emperor circa 660 BC. His family traditionally came from Takachiho on Kyushu. After defeating a local chieftain named Nagasunehiko, they settled in Yamato. "Records of Three Kingdoms" in 297 AD claimed that Queen Himiko paid tribute to the Chinese kingdom of Cao Wei (220-265 AD). During the Kofun ("ancient grave") period (3rd-7th centuries AD), Japanese constructed tombs such as the largest one at Nintoku Tomb in Osaka.

      Nara, founded in 510 AD, was a Buddhist and cultural center. Circa 700 AD, descendants of the current imperial family emerged, but had little power until 1868 AD. The Taira clan seized control over the imperial court between 1160 to 1185 AD. They were noted for exceptional skill in judo. They lost power after the Minamoto clan won the Battle of Dan-no-ura. In 1549 AD, Jesuit missionaries arrived and Kyoto authorities welcomed them.

      In 1600 AD, Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616 AD) became the first Shogun after winning the Battle of Sekigahara. During June 1575 AD in Mikawa Province, Tokugawa forces used firearms in the Battle of Nagashino to defeat Takeda Katsuyori. In 1583 AD, the Daimyo of Osaka (Toyotomi Hideyoshi) built the famous Osaka castle. Hideyoshi (aka Great Unifier) sought to conquer the Ming Dynasty of China, so he invaded Korea (Joseon or Choson Dynasty). His forces gained initial success, despite Korean use of Turtle Ships.

      In 1614 AD, Tokugawa attacked Osaka castle with 200,000 men but failed to breach its defenses. His attack on 4 June of the following year met with resounding success and ended the Toyotomi clan. Tokugawa centralized all power in the hands of a hereditary shogunate. He also brought peace and prosperity to the approximately 31 million Japanese.

      In 1637 AD, persecution of Christians and exorbitant taxes resulted in the Shimabara Rebellion (17 December 1637 - 15 April 1638 AD). Matsukura Shigemasa and his heir, Katsuie, sought to expand their territory and influence, including a planned invasion of Luzon Island in the Philippines. Over 30,000 rebels seized Hara Castle and withstood a siege from 125,000 shogunate troops, including master swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. Shogunate forces and Dutch ships destroyed the castle. Katsuie's abuses and misrule were so severe that he was the only daimyo beheaded during the Edo period. In 1635 AD, the shogun placed severe restrictions on contact with foreigners due to the uprising.

      Between 1852 and 1854 AD, Commodore Perry from the United States of America sailed his Black Ships into Uraga Harbor near Edo, during the later Tokugawa Shogunate period. He forced Japan to open ports to foreign ships, ending its long-standing policy of seclusion.

© Page Publisher: Duane R. Hurst