Jomon Period (- 300 BC)
- The early Japanese were gatherers, hunters and fishers.
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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)
- Japan is for the first time more or less united. Large tombs (kofun) were built for the deceased leaders.
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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)
- 710 Nara becomes the first permanent capital.
- 784 The capital moves to Nagaoka.
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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.
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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.
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Taisho Period (1912 - 1926)
- 1914-18 Japan joins allied forces in WW1.
- 1923 The Great Kanto Earthquake devastates Tokyo and Yokohama.
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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.
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