LOCATION: Japan AREA: 377,944 km≤ FOUNDED: 660BCE (Traditional Date)
TITLE: H.I.M. Emperor DYNASTY: Yamato RELIGION: Shinto

SHORT HISTORY: Imperial Japanese SealThe earliest-known pottery found in Japan belongs to the Jōmon period 14,000 to 300BC. The first known written reference to Japan is in the brief information given in Twenty-Four Histories in the 1st century AD. The main cultural and religious influences came from China. The first permanent capital was founded in 710 at Nara, which became a center of Buddhist art, religion and culture. The current imperial family emerged in about 700, but until 1868 (with few exceptions) had high prestige but little power. By 1550 or so, political power was subdivided into several hundred local units, or so called "domains" controlled by local "daimyō", each with his own force of samurai warriors. Tokugawa Ieyasu came to power in 1600, gave land to his supporters, and set up his "bakufu" (feudal government) at Edo (modern Tokyo). The "Tokugawa period" was prosperous and peaceful and Japan terminated the Christian missions and cut off almost all contact with the outside world. In the 1860s, the Meiji period began, and the new national leadership systematically ended feudalism and transformed an isolated, underdeveloped island country, into a world power that closely followed Western models. Democracy was problematic, because Japan's powerful military was semi-independent and overruledóor assassinatedócivilians in the 1920s and 1930s. The military moved into China starting in 1931 and declared all-out war on China in 1937. Japan controlled the coast and major cities and set up puppet regimes, but was unable to entirely defeat China. Its attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 led to war with the United States and its allies. After a series of naval victories by mid-1942, Japan's military forces were overextended and its industrial base was unable to provide the needed ships, armaments, and oil. Even with his navy sunk and his main cities destroyed by U.S. air attacks, the Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) held out until August 1945 when two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a Soviet invasion forced a surrender. The U.S. occupied Japan until 1952. After 1955, it enjoyed very high economic growth rates, and became a world economic powerhouse, especially in engineering, automobiles and electronics. Since the 1990s economic stagnation has been a major issue, with an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 causing massive economic dislocations and loss of nuclear power supplies.
  1. Ancient Japan 660BC - 672CE
  2. Classical Japan 672 - 897
  3. Medieval Japan 897 - 1198
  4. Post Medieval Japan 1199 - 1586
  5. Modern Japan 1586 - present time
    1. Aizu
    2. Chōfu
    3. Chōshū
    4. Fukui
    5. Hasunoike
    6. Himeji
    7. Hiroshima
    8. Ichinoseki
    9. Iino
    10. Itoigawa
    11. Iwakuni
    12. Iwasaki
    13. Kaga
    14. Kiyosue
    15. Kubota
    16. Kumamoto
    17. Kuwana
    18. Maebashi
    19. Matsue
    20. Mito
    21. Okayama
    22. Owari
    23. Saga
    24. Satsuma
    25. Sendai
    26. Shimabara
    27. Takasu
    28. Tokushima
    29. Tokuyama
    30. Tosa
    31. Tottori
    32. Tsuruoka
    33. Tsuyama
    34. Wakayama
    35. Yonezawa
    36. An exhaustive list of Feudal Domains
    1. Ryukyu Kingdom (Okinawa)
    2. Kamakura Shogunate 1192/1333
    3. Ashikaga Clan and Shogunate 1338/1573
    4. Tokugawa Clan and Shogunate 1603/1867
    1. Arisugawa
    2. Fushimi
    3. Ichijō
    4. Kanin
    5. Katsura
    6. Konoe
    7. Kujō
    8. Kuni
    9. Matsudaira and Tokugawa Clans
    10. Nijō
    11. Shimazu
    12. Takatsukasa
    13. Tokugawa
    14. Hitotsubashi branch of Tokugawa clan
    15. Shimizu branch of Tokugawa clan
    16. Tayasu branch of Tokugawa clan
  6. Selective Glossary of words and terms
  7. Japanese Orders and Honours