Jomon Period (- 300 BC)

Yayoi Period (300 BC - 250 AD)

  • The introduction of rice agriculture begins the development of a social hierarchy and hundreds of small countries that started to unify into larger countries.
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Kofun Period (250 - 538)

Asuka Period (538 - 710)

  • 538/552 Introduction of Buddhism.
  • 604 Prince Shotoku's Constitution of seventeen articles is promulgated.
  • 645 The Taika reform is introduced. The Fujiwara era starts.
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Nara Period (710 - 784)

Heian Period (794 - 1185)

  • 794 The capital moves to Heian (Kyoto).
  • 1016 Fujiwara Michinaga becomes regent, marking the peak of Fujiwara power.
  • 1159 The Taira clan under Taira Kiyomori takes over the power after the Heiji war.
  • 1175 The Buddhist Jodo sect (Pure land sect) is introduced.
  • 1180-85 In the Gempei War, the Minamoto clan puts an end to Taira supremacy.
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Kamakura Period (1192 - 1333)

  • 1191 The Zen sect is introduced.
  • 1192 Minamoto Yoritomo is appointed shogun and establishes the Kamakura government in Kamakura.
  • 1221 The Jokyu Disturbance ends a struggle between Kamakura and Kyoto, resulting in the supremacy of the Hojo regents in Kamakura.
  • 1232 A legal code, the Joei Shikimoku, is promulgated.
  • 1274 and 1281 The Mongols try to invade Japan twice, but fail mainly because of bad weather conditions.
  • 1333 The Kamakura government falls.
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Muromachi Period (1338 - 1573)

  • 1334 Kemmu Restoration: the emperor restores power over Japan.
  • 1336 Ashikaga Takauji captures Kyoto.
  • 1337 The emperor flees and establishes the Southern court in Yoshino.
  • 1338 Takauji establishes the Muromachi government and a second emperor in Kyoto (Northern court).
  • 1392 Unification of the Southern and Northern courts.
  • 1467-1477 Onin war.
  • 1542 Portuguese introduce firearms and Christianity to Japan.
  • 1568 Nobunaga enters Kyoto.
  • 1573 The Muromachi government falls.
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Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1573 - 1603)

  • 1575 The Takeda clan is defeated in the battle of Nagashino.
  • 1582 Nobunaga is murdered and succeeded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
  • 1588 Hideyoshi confiscates the weapons of farmers and religious institutions in the "Sword Hunt".
  • 1590 Japan is reunited after the fall of Odawara (Hojo).
  • 1592-98 Unsuccessful invasion of Korea.
  • 1598 Death of Hideyoshi.
  • 1600 Tokugawa Ieyasu defeats his rivals in the battle of Sekigahara.
  • Read more about the Azuchi-Momoyama Period

Edo Period (1603 - 1868)

  • 1603 Ieyasu is appointed shogun and establishes the Tokugawa government in Edo (Tokyo).
  • 1615 The Toyotomi clan is destroyed after Ieyasu captures Osaka Castle.
  • 1639 Isolation of Japan from the rest of the world except for strictly regulated trade with China, Korea, the Netherlands, the Ryukyu Kingdom and the Ainu.
  • 1688-1703 Genroku era: popular culture flourishes.
  • 1792 The Russians unsuccessfully try to establish trade relations with Japan.
  • 1854 Commodore Matthew Perry forces the Japanese government to open a limited number of ports for trade.
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Meiji Period (1868 - 1912)

  • 1868 Meiji Restoration.
  • 1868 The capital moves to Tokyo.
  • 1872 First railway line between Tokyo and Yokohama.
  • 1889 The Meiji Constitution is promulgated.
  • 1894-95 Sino-Japanese War.
  • 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War.
  • 1910 Annexation of Korea.
  • 1912 Death of Emperor Meiji.
  • Read more about the Meiji Period

Taisho Period (1912 - 1926)

Showa Period (1926 - 1989)

  • 1931 Manchurian Incident.
  • 1937 Second Sino-Japanese War starts.
  • 1941 Pacific War starts.
  • 1945 Japan surrenders after atomic bombs are dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  • 1946 The new constitution is promulgated.
  • 1952 The Allied Occupation of Japan ends.
  • 1956 Japan becomes member of the UN.
  • 1972 Normalization of relations with China.
  • 1973 Oil crisis.
  • Read more about the Showa Period

Heisei Period (1989 -)