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  1. History Glossary of Japanese Historical Terms

    A glossary with important terms relating to the history of Japan. This list will be continually expanded. TERMKANJIDESCRIPTION bakufu幕府Government of the shogunate, also referring to the seat of the government and administration bakuhan taisei幕藩体制Edo-era system of government, characterised by the central authority of the bakufu and local autonomy of the han be部Hereditary professions assigned to uji bunmei kaika文明開化"Civilization and enlightenment", an early Meiji-era movement aiming at re-organising Japan according to Western ciliization buke, bushi武家・武士Warrior class chōnin町人Edo-era...
  2. History Himiko

    Himiko (卑弥呼, c. 170–248 CE), also known as Pimiko, was a female ruler of the early Japanese political entity known as Yamatai (邪馬台国 Yamataikoku), as described in the Wei Zhi (魏志, "Records of Wei"), a Chinese chronicle of the 3rd century CE. The location of Yamatai has long been the subject of intense historical controversy: at one time controlled by male rulers, Yamatai was described as situated in either northern Kyūshū or the Yamato (Nara) region. According to the Gishi Wajinden (魏志倭人伝), the section in the Wei Zhi dedicated to Japan, or the "Land of Wa" (倭), warfare erupted among the...
  3. History Zaibatsu

    Zaibatsu (財閥, literally "wealthy clique") refers to industrial and financial combines of a conglomerate type that dominated the Japanese economy between the Meiji Period (1868-1912) and World War II. Created by powerful industrial families, they were operated through a tight network of parent companies (本社 honsha) and subsidiaries. Although officially dissolved in the Occupation period following the war, the new corporate groupings called keiretsu (系列, "series", or "grouping of enterprises") - often regarded as their direct successors - were instrumental in the economic post-war boom and...
  4. History Kokudaka

    The kokudaka (石高) was the tax base calculated in terms of koku. It was an estimate of the annual yield of farmland measured in koku of unpolished rice and the basis of and taxes throughout the Edo Period (1600-1868). The kokudaka system was introduced nationwide by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the course of his catastral survey of 1582-1596 and was used until the Land Tax Reform of 1873-1881. Koku 石 Koku was a measure of volume or capacity, generally used for rice but also for other dry substances and liquids. In the Edo period, a koku of grain was the equivalent of 0.18 cubic metres, 180.39...
  5. History Muromachi Period

    The Muromachi shogunate (1338-1573), was the second of Japan's three military regimes (幕府 bakufu), between the Kamakura shogunate (1192-1333) and the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1867). Established by Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏, 1305-1358), its name derives from the Muromachi district of Kyōto, where the shogunal palace and administrative headquarters were located after 1378. It is also referred to as the Ashikaga shogunate in reference to its ruling house. Under the Ashikaga, the shoguns and their government significantly expanded the scope of military rule, asserting authority over most...
  6. History Dotaku bells

    Dōtaku bells (銅鐸) are bronze bells of the Yayoi period (ca. 300 BCE - 300 CE). They range from 10 to 130 centimetres in height and were usually found singly or in pairs, but sometimes in clusters of up to 14 bells. To this day, over 300 of them have been unearthed, many with bronze mirrors and other bronze artefacts. Dōtaku have elongated bodies and feature oval cross-sections, with the lower end open. Most of them have flanges at the side seams and semicircular handles cast at the top. Dotaku bell exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum The Chinese characters 銅鐸 consist of 銅 dō (in...
  7. History Kemmu Restoration

    The Kemmu Restoration (建武の新政 Kenmu no shinsei) was the attempt of emperor Go-Daigo in the years 1333-1336 to restore direct imperial rule following the overthrow of the Kamakura shogunate. Kemmu refers to the era name (年号 nengō) that Go-Daigo inaugurated in 1334. Go-Daigo's policies were reactionary, and within just three years his restoration government was in turn overthrown by Ashikaga Takauji who established the Muromachi shogunate. Imperial restoration It is the belief rooted in ancient myths on the divine origins of Japan that a single dynastic line descended from Amaterasu Ōmikami...
  8. History Kamakura Period

    The Kamakura Period (鎌倉時代 kamakura jidai, 1185-1333) is the historical period that corresponds to the rule of the Kamakura shōgun. It is named after the city of Kamakura where the shogunal government was located. While 1333 - the year in which the Kamakura shogunate was destroyed - is the undisputed end of the period, historians have suggested different dates for its beginning: either 1185, the year in which Minamoto Yoritomo's brother Yoshitsune finally defeated the Taira in the sea battle of Dan-no-ura, or 1192, when the imperial court officially recognised Yoritomo's military rule....
  9. History The Forty-Seven Ronin

    The revenge of the 47 rōnin (四十七士 Shi-jū-shichi-shi, “forty-seven samurai”), also known as the Genroku Akō incident (元禄赤穂事件 Genroku akō jiken), is one of the most famous episodes in Japanese history and a paradigm of samurai loyalty and ethics. Remembered each year on 14th December, it has become the subject of innumerable stories, plays, and movies. The incident took actually place on 30th January 1703, when a band of former retainers of Asano Naganori (浅野長矩, 1667-1701), the late lord of Akō (in modern-day Hyōgo Prefecture), attacked the heavily guarded residence of Kira Yoshinaka (吉良義央,...
  10. History Ashikaga Clan

    Ashikaga family crest The Ashikaga (足利) were a warrior family of the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries and with the Nitta (新田) family one of the two major descendants of the Seiwa Genji (清和源) branch of the Minamoto family. The Ashikaga rose to prominence in the fourteenth century under Ashikaga Takauji, who established the Muromachi shogunate (1338-1573). Fifteen shoguns of the Ashikaga family ruled Japan during two and a half centuries of political and social disorder. Under the Ashikaga the arts flourished, winning them an eminent place in Japanese cultural history. Origins The...
  11. History Historical Periods of Japan

    An overview over the historical periods of Japan Jōmon Period (ca 11000 BCE-ca 300 BCE) Yayoi Period (300 BCE to ca 300 CE) Kofun Period (300 to ca 538 CE) Asuka Period (ca 250-710 CE) Nara Period (710-794) Heian Period (794-1185) [II] [III] Kamakura Period (1185-1333) Muromachi Period (1338-1573) Sengoku Period (1467-1568) Momoyama Period Edo Period Meiji Period (1868-1912) Taisho Period (1912-1926) Showa Period (1926-1989) Heian Period (1989-)
  12. History Sengoku Period

    The Sengoku Period (戦国時代) was also known as the Warring States period and lasted from 1467, the beginning of the Ōnin War (応仁の乱 Ōnin no Ran), until 1568, when Oda Nobunaga entered Kyōto to assert national hegemony. Some historians date it from 1490, when Hosokawa Katsumoto (細川 勝元, 1430-1473), the kanrei (管領, shogunal deputy), took over the actual power of the Muromachi shogunate, others from 1491, when Hōjō Sōun (北条 早雲, 1432-1519) conquered Izu Province (modern-day Shizuoka Prefecture) and began to rise to control over the Kantō region. Although the Sengoku Period is often described as a...
  13. History Shinsengumi

    Shinsengumi uniforms (Shinsengumi Museum in Aizuwakamatsu The Shinsengumi (新撰組 or 新選組) was a small elite group of swordsmen commissioned by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1863 as a special police force to counter pro-imperial and anti-shogunate subversion in Kyōto. The Shinsengumi, lit. “newly established corps”, were first called Rōshigumi (浪士組), as most of its members were rōnin, masterless samurai recruited in Edo (modern-day Tōkyō) in 1863 and sent to Kyōto in order to protect the shogun who was visiting the city at that time. One of its leader though, Kiyokawa Hachirō (清河八郎, 1830-1863)...
  14. History Kofun Period

    The Kofun Period (古墳時代 Kofun jidai) refers to the protohistoric period of Japan, usually dated from 250 to ca 538 CE, characterised by the construction of large tumuli or tomb mounds (古墳 kofun). It is usually divided into two phases: early (4th century), and late 5th and 6th centuries). The Yayoi Period saw the development of a class society, incipient urbanization, the emergence of the Yamato state, and was the era prior to the introduction of Buddhism to Japan. The Kofun and the subsequent Asuka periods are sometimes collectively referred to as the Yamato Period. Kofun Kofun are large...
  15. History Heian Period - Part 3

    Heian Cultural Life The dominant view of the political and economic developments away from the ritsuryō system is negative, but in the cultural sphere the evaluations are all positive: the experience is seen as one in which the Japanese created a truly native culture for the first time. The absorption of continental Buddhist ideas, the perfection of a native written language that made possible a truly Japanese method of literary expression, and the emergence of a secular artistic tradition that freed Japanese artists and craftsmen from the rigid traditions learned from the Chinese. It is...
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