Period Name Description
-300 BC Jomon The early Japanese were gatherers, hunters and fishers.
300 BC-250 Yayoi The introduction of rice agriculture begins the development of a social hierarchy and hundreds of small countries that started to unify into larger countries.
250-538 Kofun Japan is for the first time more or less united. Large tombs (kofun) were built for the deceased leaders.
538-710 Asuka 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.
710-784 Nara 710 Nara becomes the first permanent capital.
784 The capital moves to Nagaoka.
794-1185 Heian 794 The capital moves to Heian (Kyoto).
1016 Fujiwara Michinaga becomes regent.
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.
1192-1333 Kamakura 1191 The Zen sect is introduced.
1192 Minamoto Yoritomo is appointed shogun and establishes the Kamakura government.
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 bakufu falls.
1338-1573 Muromachi 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 Bakufu falls.
1573-1603 Azuchi
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.
1603 - 1867 Edo 1603 Ieyasu is appointed shogun and establishes the Tokugawa government in Edo (Tokyo).
1614 Ieyasu intensifies persecution of Christianity.
1615 The Toyotomi clan is destroyed after Ieyasu captures Osaka Castle.
1639 Almost complete isolation of Japan from the rest of the world.
1688-1703 Genroku era: popular culture flourishes.
1792 The Russians unsuccessfuly try to establish trade relations with Japan.
1854 Commodore Matthew Perry forces the Japanese government to open a limited number of ports for trade.
1868-1912 Meiji 1868 Meiji restoration.
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.
1912-1926 Taisho 1914-18 Japan joins allied forces in WW1.
1923 The Great Kanto Earthquake devastates Tokyo and Yokohama.
1926-1989 Showa 1931 Manchurian Incident.
1937 Second Sino-Japanese War starts.
1941 Pacific War starts.
1945 Japan surrenders after two 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 to China.
1973 Oil crisis.
1989- Heisei 1993 The LDP loses its majority in the diet.
1995 The Great Hanshin Earthquake hits Kobe.
Sarin Gas attack in the Tokyo subway by AUM sect.
2009 The Democratic Party of Japan becomes the ruling party.
2011 Great East Japan Earthquake