Peace & Quiet
The Shaping of Japan
10,000-300 BC The Jomon period. First signs of Japanese civilisation by peoples probably crossing land bridges from Siberia, Korea and China. 300 BC-AD 300 The Yayoi period. People probably of Chinese or Korean origin develop wet-rice cultivation and use of bronze and iron. AD 300-710 The Yamato kingdom assumes national leadership and Buddhism takes root. 710 The first permanent Japanese capital is established in Nara. This is modelled on the Chinese capital of Ch'ang-an (Xian). 794-1185 During the Heian period the capital is moved to Heian (Kyoto), where it remains until 1868. Although the frontiers are extended to northern Honshu, the balance of power lies with rival clans. 858 The Fujiwara clan achieves ascendancy at the Heian court, forcing eight successive emperors to step down in favour of easily manipulated children. 1185-1333 The Kamakura period marks the beginning of the rise of the samurai. In 1185 the Minamoto family establishes a rival power base in Kamakura, but is defeated by Emperor Go-Daigo. 1274 The first wave of Mongol raiders arrive in Japan and are driven back by typhoons. Seven years later a second attack is defeated in the same way. The Japanese call these storms kamikaze, or 'divine winds'. 1333-1573 The Muromachi period. Two rival empires are established, so civil war is a regular feature of this time. 1392 The reunification of the northern and southern courts ensures maintenance of an unbroken imperial line. 1543 Christianity takes root briefly with the arrival of the Portuguese. 1573-1600 The short Momomaya period brings peace and unity under Oda Nobunaga. In 1582 he is betrayed by one of his generals and commits ritual suicide. he eis succeeded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. 1590 Reunification completed under Hideyoshi. 1600-1867 The Edo period begins with the defeat of Hideyoshi by Tokugawa Ieyasu, who establishes a capital at Edo (Tokyo). A strict order of rank begins. Japan is closed to the outside world for more than 250 years. 1600 William Adams, the English sailor who is the inspiration for William Clavell's novel Shogun, arrives in Japan. 1853 Commodore Perry of the US Navy arrives. His demands for free trade hastens the decline of the corrupt shogunate. 1867-1912 In 1867 the Meiji emperor takes control and abolishes the shogunate. A Western-style constitution is established in 1889, and a resurgent Japan defeats the Chinese in 1894-5 and the Russians in 1904-5. 1910 Korea is annexed as part of Japan's drive for imperial expansion. 1926 Emperor Hirohito ascends to the throne. 1931 Expansionist policies combined with a pan-Asian, anti-American stance lead to the invasion of China. 1941 Japan enters World War II with the attack on Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. 1945 Unconditional surrender follows the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US. A new constitution diminishes the role of the emperor. Japan recovers to become the world's most successful post-war economy. 1990s The 1990s show some stagnation, with government scandals, the effects of the 1995 Kobe earthquake, and the collapse in 1998 of several major banks . Since 2000 Although the economy appears to have stabilised, Japan's strict social order has yet to recover its confidence.