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Early Japanese religion

By | 2017-10-10T12:41:45+00:00 July 27th, 2017|Japan, Religion|

Ujigami Shinto Shrine (Japan, 1300s AD) The earliest people in Japan probably brought with them ancient religious ideas from Africa. They used red ochre to bury dead people, for example. By the time Japanese writers wrote books describing their religion in the 700s AD (the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki), these early ideas had developed into Shintoism. [...]

Early Japanese Literature

By | 2017-07-27T15:08:10+00:00 July 27th, 2017|Japan, Literature|

A copy of the Kojiki from the 1300s AD Just after 700 AD, the Japanese Empress Genmei ordered her staff to write and publish Japan's first history book, the Kojiki, and the first geography and botany book, the Fudoki. The recent invention of wood-block printing meant that people were publishing and reading a lot of books in nearby China, and Genmei [...]

Yayoi – Iron Age Japan

By | 2017-07-27T15:03:49+00:00 July 27th, 2017|History, Japan|

Yayoi pottery, ca. 100-200 AD By about 800 BC, most people in Japan were shifting from Stone Age hunting and gathering to farming rice for most of their food (but they were still also eating a lot of fish). People in Japan started raising pigs at this time, too, brought over from China. Like farmers everywhere, people in Japan started to fight over land, and [...]

Yamato period – Early Medieval Japan

By | 2017-10-10T16:12:22+00:00 July 27th, 2017|History, Japan|

Haniwa seated woman from a kofun tomb, possibly a Shinto religious leader (ca. 500 AD) By the end of the Yayoi period (Japan's Iron Age) in 250 AD, there was probably an emperor in Japan. But the real power still lay with the rulers of many different city-states. The emperor couldn't really tell them what to do. That stayed [...]

Taika period – Early Medieval Japan

By | 2017-10-14T14:52:48+00:00 July 27th, 2017|History, Japan, Where|

Court attendants (Takamatsuzuka Tomb, ca. 600s AD) Now that Japan had declared independence from China, Empress Suiko and her successors built a new government for Japan. They wanted Japan's government to be just as good as China's government. Empress Suiko ruled for 35 years before she died in 628 AD. Prince Shotoku had already died six years [...]

Stone Age Japan – Japanese history

By | 2017-07-27T13:42:11+00:00 July 27th, 2017|History, Japan|

Jomon carving of a killer whale, ca. 3000 BC People probably first reached Japan from two directions around the same time. Some people came north from Southeast Asia or Australia, in boats along the coast. These people were descended from the first people who left Africa about 70,000 BC, and they had dark skin. A [...]

Nara period – Early medieval Japan

By | 2017-07-27T13:37:43+00:00 July 27th, 2017|History, Japan|

Model of the Empress Genmei's imperial audience hall at Heijo, Nara Empress Genmei moved the capital of Japan to the new planned city of Nara in 710 AD. She wanted the move to help get more power into her own hands and out of the hands of other powerful Japanese families. Genmei succeeded in stopping [...]

Muromachi – Late Medieval Japan

By | 2017-07-27T13:31:11+00:00 July 27th, 2017|History, Japan|

Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1300s AD) The great families drove out Emperor Do-Gaigo in 1338 AD. Then the new shogun was from the Muromachi family. Until about 1400, he and his sons and grandsons fought civil wars. They fought against the emperor's supporters, and against the Hojo family. Even though the bubonic plague killed a lot of people in China and Korea [...]

Shoguns and Mongols – Kamakura Japan

By | 2017-07-27T12:54:36+00:00 July 27th, 2017|History, Japan|

Minamoto Yoritomo (maybe), by Fujiwara Takanobu The first shogun, Minamoto Yoritomo, established the system: all officials were pretty much military officials. Japan broke up into a lot of small kingdoms, which were always fighting each other. There were a lot of wars, mostly involving mounted archers, and there was a lot of violence even in [...]

Heian period – Early Medieval Japan

By | 2017-07-27T12:50:53+00:00 July 27th, 2017|History, Japan|

Godai Kokuzo Bodhisattva (Jingo-ji Temple, Kyoto), ca. 800-900 AD After Empress Koken died in 770 AD, there was a major change in how Japan's government worked. The powerful families got more power, the same way they did in China about this time. Women were shut out of power. The next emperor, Konin, was an old man (62 years [...]