Nihon Shoki Timeline

Nihon Shoki Timeline

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Nihon Shoki

Japan is a country well known for the preservation of cultural places. In such a small country, there are many historical sites open for visitation, and museums built for history that they could not conserve. While there are many attractions in Japan for tourists, the most popular are sites with a lot of Japanese culture. As an aspiring archaeologist, I would absolutely spend most my time in Japan, should I ever get to go, touring the most popular historical locations. My favorite archaeological

Nihon Shoki Timeline - History

By Okumura Masanobu
奥村政信 (1686-1764).
Circa 1745.
Woodblock print.
Mpls. Institute of Art

Origin = China
Chinese Name = Zhōng Kuí, Chung Kuei, Chung K’uei, Chung Kwei
Japanese spellings: Shōki, Shoki, Shouki, Shooki

Stone Statue, Taishō Era (1912-1925),
in garden of site author, Kamakura.

Shōki 鍾馗 is a deity from China’s Taoist pantheon who was depicted often in Edo-period (1615-1868) Japanese sculptures and paintings, but one who is today largely neglected. Legends about Shōki reportedly first appear in Tang-era (618-907) Chinese documents. The deity reached Japan by at least the late Heian Period (794 to 1185), for the oldest extant image of Shōki in Japan is a scroll at the Nara National Museum dated to the reign of Emperor Goshirakawa 後白河天皇 (1127-1192). Numerous legends surround Shōki in Japan and the West. The three most widespread are:

  • Shōki is the Chinese deity who protected Tang-era Emperor Xuanzong 玄宗 (Jp: Gensō, 685-762) from malevolent demons. According to this legend, Shōki appeared to the sick emperor in a dream and subdued the demons causing his sickness. In gratitude, the emperor awarded Shōki the title of "Doctor of Zhongnanshan" (Jp. = Shūnanzan-no-Shinshi 終南山の進士). By the way, Zhongnanshan 終南山 is the legendary birthplace of Chinese Taosim. It is here that Taoism's founder, Laozi 老子 (Jp. = Rōshi) reportedly gave classes and wrote the Taoist classic "Tao Te Ching." The sacred terrace monastery is called Louguantai 楼観台. <Sources: Tokyo National Museum, JAANUS, and The Art Institute of Chicago>
  • Shōki wanted, above all else, to serve as a physician in the imperial palace, but when he failed the national exam he committed suicide in despair. Emperor Xuanzong heard this story, and in pity, posthumously awarded Shōki the title "Doctor of Zhongnanshan." Shōki’s spirit thereafter vowed to protect the emperor and empire from evil. <Source: JAANUS>
  • Shōki was a Tang-era physician in the Chinese province of Shensi, but he was very ugly. To advance his career, he took the national examination to enter imperial service, and performed brilliantly, scoring first place among all applicants. But when Shōki was presented to the emperor, he was rejected because of his ugliness, and in shame, Shōki committed suicide. Overcome with remorse, the emperor ordered Shōki to be buried in the green robe reserved for the imperial clan. In gratitude, Shōki's spirit vowed to protect the ruler and all male heirs from demons of illness and evil. <Source: Minneapolis Institute of Art>
  • Says Hugo Munsterberg in his Dictionary of Chinese and Japanese Art: “In China, he is canonized with the title of ‘Great Spiritual Chaser of Demons.’ He is usually represented in art as a large ugly man, wearing a scholar’s hat, a green robe and large boots, and is usually shown either stabbing or trampling on demons.”

Shōki’s popularity peaked in Japan during the Edo period, when people began to hang images of Shōki outside their houses to ward off evil spirits during the Boys' Day festival (Tango no Sekku 端午の節句, May 5 each year, but now a festival for all children of both sexes) and to adorn the eaves and entrances of their homes with ceramic statues of the deity. Today, Shōki is a minor deity relatively neglected or forgotten by most Japanese , except perhaps in Kyoto city, where residents still adorn the eaves and rooftops of their homes with Shōki’s effigy to ward off evil and illness, and to protect the male heir to the family.

Rediscovered Painting of Shōki
by Kitagawa Utamaro 喜多川歌麿 (1754-1806)

Shoki, the Demon Queller
Scroll-mounted ink drawing on paper.
H = 81 cm, W = 27.5 cm
Original brush painting by
Kitagawa Utamaro 喜多川歌麿 (1754-1806).

Says Gina Collia-Suzuki's Floating Along in the World of Japanese Prints: “Two original brush paintings by Kitagawa Utamaro, last seen at an exhibition in 1975, have been rediscovered in a private home in Tochigi, Japan.” Above closeup photo from Gina Collia-Suzuki.

Says the Mainichi Daily News (Aug. 2, 2010): “Two original prints by legendary Edo-period artist Utamaro Kitagawa, which had not been located for nearly 35 years, have been found at the home of an elderly family in Tochigi, city officials announced.” Above scroll image from Mainichi.

Below Text Courtesy of JAANUS
A god in the Chinese Taoist pantheon known as the "Demon Queller," often depicted in sculpture and painting. A devoted but flawed student, Zhongkui failed the national examination and in despair committed suicide. When Emperor Xuanzong 玄宗 (Jp: Gensō, 685-762) heard of this extreme act he had the degree and title "Doctor of Zhongnanshan" (Jp: Shūnanzan-no-Shinshi 終南山の進士) posthumously bestowed on Zhongkui. In return, the ghost of Zhongkui appeared to Xuanzong in a dream and promised to protect the empire from evil demons. Another version holds that when the Emperor was ill Zhongkui appeared in a dream and killed the demons who had plagued the Emperor, and in gratitude Xuanzong awarded Zhongkui the title. Pictures of Zhongkui were hung in homes to protect or rid them from demons especially at the Boy's Festival on May 5, and the practice of placing a small statuette of Zhongkui under the eaves of a house survives in Japan. In paintings Zhongkui is usually shown with large eyes, a bushy beard, and wearing black robes and an official's cap. He is often depicted drawing a large sword or using it in battle with demons. Records mention images of Zhongkui from the Tang period, but a painting attributed to the Northern Song artist Li Gonglin 李公麟 (Jp: Ri Kōrin, 1049?-1106) seems to be the earliest extant image. In Japan, of the countless paintings of Zhongkui, those by Yamada Dōan 山田道安 (fl.16c, Enkakuji 円覚寺, Kanagawa Prefecture), Kanō Tan'yū 狩野探幽 (1602-74), Watanabe Kazan 渡辺華山 (1793-1841) and Tanomura Chikuden 田能村竹田 (1777-1853) are well known. <end JAANUS quote>

Shōki - painting by artist Sesson Shukei 雪村周継 (1504-1589)
Photo Courtesy Kyoto National Museum

Portion of scroll showing Shōki
Late Heian Period, H = 25.9 cm, W = 45.2 cm
Photo Tokyo National Museum.
The scroll, however, is a treasure
of the Nara National Museum.

A Buddhist tale (J. setsuwa) relates that Shōki, a demon-quelling deity from China, protected the Tang emperor Xuanzong (685-762) from malevolent demons. He is portrayed with large eyes and a thick beard and is wearing a black robe, hat, and tall boots. Here, he is shown strangling a small demon. This scroll, called the Extermination of Evil (Hekija-e 辟邪絵) or Exorcists Scroll , is conjectured to have been made during the time of Emperor Goshirakawa 後白河天皇 (1127-1192) in the latter part of the Heian period (794-1185) and kept in the treasure house of Rengeo-in Temple (Sanjūsangendō). <end TNM quote>

Shōki the Demon Queller
By Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川広重
(1797-1858) Woodblock Print
Photo Minneapolis Institute of Art

Who is Shōki ? During the early T'ang Dynasty, Shōki was a physician in the province of Shensi, China. He was considered very ugly. Hoping to advance his career, he took the examinations required to enter government service. Although he performed brilliantly, Shōki's dreams of advancement were shattered. Some say Shōki was cruelly cheated out of first place. Others say he was awarded first place by the examiners, who praised his work, saying it was equal to that of the wisest ancients.

But when Shōki was presented to the court, the emperor rejected him because he was so ugly. In shame, Shōki took his own life on the steps of the imperial palace, right in front of the emperor. Overcome with remorse, the emperor ordered that Shōki be buried with the highest honors, wrapped in a green robe usually reserved for members of the imperial clan. In gratitude, Shōki's spirit vowed to protect any ruler against the evil of demons. <This is essentially the same legend as reported by Hugo Munsterberg in Dictionary of Chinese & Japanese Art .>

This popular story of Shōki was adopted from China, where he was known as Chung Kuei. During the Edo Period in Japan (1600-1868), families began to hang banners depicting Shōki inside and outside of their houses during the Boys' Day festival. Boys' Day is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar year. According to ancient tradition, this is a day when evil spirits and bad luck abounds. Images of Shōki ward off danger from the homes of families with male children. <end quote Minneapolis Institute of Art>

Shōki the Demon Queller
By Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎
(1760-1849) Ink on Paper
Photo Minneapolis Institute of Art

Shōki the Demon Queller
By Utagawa Toyoharu 歌川豊春
(1735-1814) Woodblock Print.
Photo Minneapolis Institute of Art

CLOSEUP of Shōki the Demon Queller
Attributed to Katsushika Hokusai
Mid 18th to 19th century, Ink on Paper
Photo Minneapolis Institute of Art

CLOSEUP of Shōki the Demon Queller
Attributed to Utagawa Toyoharu
18th-19th Century, Woodblock Print
Photo Minneapolis Institute of Art

Shōki the Demon Slayer - Print by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka 月岡芳年 (1839-92)
Photo Minneapolis Institute of Art. Also see Ukiyo-e Museum - Nagoya TV Server

Shōki -- Closeup of Woodblock Print, Bijin-ga, Pre-1920
Photo courtesy of Ichiban Japanese Antiques. On sale at

Ivory Netsuke, Shōki & Oni (demon), Hidemasa, 19th century
Photo www.netsuke-inro

Shōki - Ivory Netsuke
18th century (oni on head)
Photo Sloan's Auctioneers
& Appraisers

Shōki - Ivory Netsuke

Shōki glaring over the eaves of a town house
KYOTO Internet Magazine/ City of Kyoto, 1997

Therefore, Shōki-san stands above the eaves, receiving prayers from the house occupants for safety in the home and protection from illness. Shōki-san is easily recognized by his heavy beard and the short sword in his right hand, while the hems of his garments are forever trailing in the wind. There is something strange about those wide, glaring eyes. A closer examination suggests a facial expression that is not without humour. Is there anything more one could ask for in a deity protecting our homes? <end text from Kyoto Internet Magazine>

Shōki on Rooftop, Photos courtesy Mark T. Hacala
Director, Education Institute U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation, Washington, DC

Writes Mark Hacala: “I wanted to offer you my understanding of the Shōki statues. They sit over the doors of a great many homes and buildings in Kyoto. Each year I have my students play "spot the Shōki" as we move through the city. A Kyoto cabbie informed my counterpart that some people also place them in their homes above their stoves. In either case, he suggested that Shōki was supposed to be a protector against fire as well as a general-purpose guardian deity.” <end quote from Mark Hacala, April 2004>

Shōki figure, often found above entrances to Japanese homes
Photo courtesy of (J site)
For 10 more photos, visit:

Source Unknown (No longer online).
Likely from Minneapolis Institute of Art

Demon-Queller Zhong Kui)
Circa 1745, woodblock print, ink on paper (sumizuri-e) with hand-coloring urushi-e pillar print (hashira-e) John Chandler Bancroft Collection, 1901.1201.

Rising Merchant Class. During Japan's Edo period, great cities and a new, prosperous merchant class flourished. Middle-class tastes were significantly different from those of the Buddhist priests and shogunate (the government under a shogun) that had dominated artistic patronage in the past. Members of the new middle class preferred scenes of everyday life and illustrations of folk stories like Shōki the Demon Queller. By the 18th century many artists depicted Shōki in prints for this new audience.

Prints. As a result of this new patronage and the development of a many-colored woodblock printing process, an abundance of printed materials were made available to all. Novels, pictures, and poetry helped inform the Japanese of their own cultural heritage as well artistic styles and themes imported from China. For commoners who could not afford a painting, these new prints offered an affordable alternative.

The long narrow format of PILLAR PRINTS, achieved by pasting together two sheets of paper, was popular and practical. Whereas most prints were pasted into albums, pillar prints were hung in the home. The traditional Japanese house had very few walls, and the sliding doors that divided the rooms were made of paper. Structural wooden pillars were the only place where pictures could be hung.

Masanobu. The artist Okumura Masanobu 奥村政信 (1686-1764) invented the popular pillar print format. He was one of Japan's most important painters and printmakers during the 18th century. By his own account, Masanobu was responsible for dozens of technical and stylistic innovations in printmaking. <See photo at top of this web page for painting by Okumura Masanobu.>

Shōki, the Demon Queller. Shōki typically appears as a portly bewhiskered man. He wears scholar's robes, a hat, and heavy knee-high boots and carries a large sword. His large eyes, bulbous nose, and fierce expression are also characteristic features. In this print Shōki rounds a corner in hot pursuit of a demon. His eyes bulge out as he spies his prey. His left hand tenses, while his right reaches for his long broad sword.

Masanobu deftly varies his use of line to convey mood, texture, and mass. The thick, wavy, jagged outlines of Shōki's drapery capture his intense vitality. The fine delicate lines of his wild windblown beard and hair contrast the thicker lines of his bushy eyebrows and mustache. Masanobu uses dramatic shading in light and dark to emphasize the bulk of the figure. Masanobu creatively uses this narrow vertical format to enhance his storytelling. Shōki does not fill the length of the print, but is relegated instead to the lower two-thirds. This position emphasizes his short and portly stature. By cropping from view much of Shōki's arms, one leg, and the ends of his hair and beard, Masanobu gives the impression of catching a quick glimpse of the elusive demon queller.

The characters (the SYMBOLS used in the Japanese writing system) placed in the lower left corner of this pillar print of Shōki, are the artist Masanobu's studio name, Hogetsudo, and his signature, Okumura Bunkaku Masanobu.

Shōki the Demon Queller, Carrying Two Baskets Filled with Demons
Attributed to Kitagawa Hidemaro 喜多川秀麿
Early 19th century, Woodblock Print, Sumizuri-e
Photo Minneapolis Institute of Art

By Kochoro KUNISADA (1786-1865)

By Kawanabe KYOSAI (1831-1889)

By Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1797 - 1861)

By Kawanabe KYOSAI (1831-1889)

Zhong Kui 钟馗 (also spelled Zhong Kui, Zhong Kwei, Chung Kuei)
Ink Painting (78 cm by 78 cm) by contemporary Chinese artist Xi Ding 西丁.
Acquired from the son of Xi Ding by P. M. Patings (Lelystad, Netherlands) in May 1992 in Xiang, China.
Photo courtesy of Patings, who runs the Tsubo-en Zen Garden Online Guidebook and Tsubo-en Diary.

The Chinese text (from right to left) reads as follows: Portrait painting of Zhong Kui 钟馗图. After the death of the first emperor of the T'ang dynasty (618 – 907), the roaming spirit of the deceased emperor caused the second emperor Xuan Zhong 玄宗 (Le Long Ji 685-762) to have nightmares with many demons in them. Determined to get rid of this, Xuan Zhong summoned, after he had awaked from a bad dream, the then famous painter Wu Daozhi and ordered him, based on the appearances in his dreams, to make a painting of Zhong Kui, the guardian against evil demons. Thereafter and into the Song dynasty, representations of Zhong Kui became much beloved by the people. During the “Duanwu” festival (5 May) the portrait of Zhong Kui is hung on doors to keep demons out. This painting was made by Xi Ding 西丁, famous artist of the Xian department of the Shaanxi provincial fine arts association. <Translation by Mr. Wang and P.M. Patings>


Shōki Sharpening Sword
by Okumura Masanobu.
Date unknown. Clarence Buckingham Collection.
Photo: Art Institute of Chicago

  • Japanese Architecture & Art Net User System (JAANUS).
    Shōki Page | Main Page , Exorcists Scroll with image of Shōki
  • Kyoto Nat’l Museum: Shōki Fighting Demons by Kawanabe Kyōsai 河鍋暁斎 (1831�)
  • Kyoto Nat’l Museum: Shōki Attended by Demon, by Soga Shōhaku 曽我蕭白 (1730-1781)
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art -- Shōki Artwork in their collection.
  • Dictionary of Chinese and Japanese Artby Hugo Munsterberg. Publisher Hacker Art Books (Jan. 1982). ASIN: 0878172483. Dictionary (no illustrations) covering artists, media, motifs, dynasties, schools, concepts, etc.

Copyright 1995 - 2015. Mark Schumacher. Email Mark.
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Baekje was founded in 18 BC [1] by King Onjo, who led a group of people from Goguryeo south to the Han River basin. According to the Chinese Records of the Three Kingdoms, during the Samhan period, one of the chiefdoms of the Mahan confederacy was called already Baekje.

The Samguk Sagi provides a detailed account of Baekje's founding. Jumong had left his son Yuri in Buyeo when he left that kingdom to establish the new kingdom of Goguryeo. Jumong became Divine King Dongmyeong, and had two more sons with So Seo-no, Onjo and Biryu. When Yuri later arrived in Goguryeo, Jumong promptly made him the crown prince. Realizing Yuri would become the next king, So Seo-no left Goguryeo, taking her two sons Biryu and Onjo south to found their own kingdoms with their people, along with ten vassals. She is remembered as a key figure in the founding of both Goguryeo and Baekje.

Onjo settled in Wiryeseong (present-day Hanam), and called his country Sipje (십제, 十濟, meaning "Ten Vassals"), while Biryu settled in Michuhol (present-day Incheon), against the vassals' advice. The salty water and marshes in Michuhol made settlement difficult, while the people of Wiryeseong lived prosperously.

Biryu then went to his brother Onjo, asking for the throne of Sipje. When Onjo refused, Biryu declared war, but lost. In shame, Biryu committed suicide, and his people moved to Wiryeseong, where King Onjo welcomed them and renamed his country Baekje ("Hundred Vassals").

King Onjo moved the capital from the south to the north of the Han river, and then south again, probably all within present Seoul, under pressure from other Mahan states. King Gaeru is believed to have moved the capital north of the river to Bukhansanseong in 132, probably in present-day Goyang to the northwest of Seoul.

Through the early centuries of the Common Era, sometimes called the Proto–Three Kingdoms Period, early Baekje gradually gained control over the other Mahan tribes.


During the reign of King Goi (234–286), Baekje became a full-fledged kingdom, as it continued consolidating the Mahan confederacy. In 249, according to the ancient Japanese text Nihonshoki, Baekje's expansion reached the Gaya confederacy to its east, around the Nakdong River valley. Baekje is first described in Chinese records as a kingdom in 345. The first diplomatic missions from Baekje reached Japan around 367 (According to the Nihon Shoki : 247).

King Geunchogo (346–375) expanded Baekje's territory to the north through war against Goguryeo, while annexing the remaining Mahan societies in the south. During Geunchogo's reign, the territories of Baekje included most of the western Korean Peninsula (except the two Pyeongan provinces), and in 371, Baekje defeated Goguryeo at Pyongyang. Baekje continued substantial trade with Goguryeo, and actively adopted Chinese culture and technology. Buddhism became the official state religion in 384.

Baekje also became a sea power and continued mutual goodwill relationships with the Japanese rulers of the Kofun period, transmitting continental cultural influences to Japan. The Chinese writing system, Buddhism, advanced pottery, ceremonial burial, and other aspects of culture were introduced by aristocrats, artisans, scholars, and monks throughout their relationship. [6]

During this period, the Han River basin remained the heartland of the country.

Ungjin period

In the 5th century, Baekje retreated under the southward military threat of Goguryeo, and in 475, the Seoul region fell to Goguryeo. Baekje's capital was located at Ungjin (present-day Gongju) from 475 to 538.

Isolated in mountainous terrain, the new capital was secure against the north but also disconnected from the outside world. It was closer to Silla than Wiryeseong had been, however, and a military alliance was forged between Silla and Baekje against Goguryeo.

Most maps of the Three Kingdoms period show Baekje occupying the Chungcheong and Jeolla provinces, the core of the country in the Ungjin and Sabi periods.

Sabi period

In 538, King Seong moved the capital to Sabi (present-day Buyeo County), and rebuilt his kingdom into a strong state. From this time, the official name of the country was Nambuyeo ("Southern Buyeo"), a reference to Buyeo to which Baekje traced its origins. The Sabi Period witnessed the flowering of Baekje culture, alongside the growth of Buddhism. [7]

Under pressure from Goguryeo to the north and Silla to the east, Seong sought to strengthen Baekje's relationship with China. The location of Sabi, on the navigable Geum River, made contact with China much easier, and both trade and diplomacy flourished during his reign and continuing on into the 7th century.

In the 7th century, with the growing influence of Silla in the southern and central Korean peninsula, Baekje began its decline.

Fall and restoration movement

In 660, the coalition troops of Silla and Tang of China attacked Baekje, which was then allied with Goguryeo. A heavily outmanned army led by General Gyebaek was defeated in the Battle of Hwangsanbeol near Nonsan. The capital Sabi fell almost immediately thereafter, resulting in the annexation of Baekje by Silla. King Uija and his son Buyeo Yung were sent into exile in China while at least some of the ruling class fled to Japan.

Baekje forces attempted a brief restoration movement but faced Silla–Tang joint forces. A Buddhist monk Dochim (도침, 道琛) and the former Baekje general Buyeo Boksin rose to try to revive Baekje. They welcomed the Baekje prince Buyeo Pung back from Japan to serve as king, with Juryu (주류, 周留, in modern Seocheon County, South Chungcheong) as their headquarters. They put the Tang general Liu Renyuan (劉仁願) under siege in Sabi. Emperor Gaozong sent the general Liu Rengui, who had previously been demoted to commoner rank for offending Li Yifu, with a relief force, and Liu Rengui and Liu Renyuan were able to fight off the Baekje resistance forces' attacks, but were themselves not strong enough to quell the rebellion, and so for some time the armies were in stalemate.

Baekje requested Japanese aid, and King Pung returned to Baekje with a contingent of 5,000 soldiers. Before the ships from Japan arrived, his forces battled a contingent of Tang forces in Ungjin County.

In 663, Baekje revival forces and a Japanese naval fleet convened in southern Baekje to confront the Silla forces in the Battle of Baekgang. The Tang dynasty also sent 7,000 soldiers and 170 ships. After five naval confrontations that took place in August 663 at Baekgang, considered the lower reaches of Geum River or Dongjin river, the Silla–Tang forces emerged victorious, and Buyeo Pung escaped to Goguryeo.

The establishment of a centralized state in Baekje is usually traced to the reign of King Goi, who may have first established patrilineal succession. Like most monarchies, a great deal of power was held by the aristocracy. King Seong, for example, strengthened royal power, but after he was slain in a disastrous campaign against Silla, the nobles took much of that power away from his son.

The Hae clan and the Jin clan were the representative royal houses who had considerable power from the early period of Baekje, and they produced many queens over several generations. The Hae clan was probably the royal house before the Buyeo clan replaced them, and both clans appear descended from the lineage of Buyeo and Goguryeo. The "Great Eight Families" (Sa, Yeon, Hyeop, Hae, Jin, Guk, Mok, and Baek) were powerful nobles in the Sabi era, recorded in Chinese records such as Tongdian.

Central government officials were divided into sixteen ranks, the six members of the top rank forming a type of cabinet, with the top official being elected every three years. In the Sol rank, the first (Jwapyeong) through the sixth (Naesol) officials were political, administrative, and military commanders. In the Deok rank, the seventh (Jangdeok) through the eleventh (Daedeok) officials may have headed each field. Mundok, Mudok, Jwagun, Jinmu and Geuku from the twelfth to the sixteenth, may have been military administrators.

According to the Samguk Yusa, [8] during the Sabi period, the chief minister (Jaesang) of Baekje was chosen by a unique system. The names of several candidates were placed under a rock (Cheonjeongdae) near Hoamsa temple. After a few days, the rock was moved and the candidate whose name had a certain mark was chosen as the new chief minister. Whether this was a form of selection by lot or a covert selection by the elite is not clear.

Baekje was established by immigrants from Goguryeo who spoke what could be a Buyeo language, a hypothetical group linking the languages of Gojoseon, Buyeo, Goguryeo, and Baekje. In a case of diglossia, the indigenous Samhan people, having migrated in an earlier wave from the same region, probably spoke a variation or dialect of the same language. Kōno Rokurō has argued that the kingdom of Baekje was bilingual, with the gentry speaking a Puyŏ language and the common people a Han language. [9]

Buddhism, a religion originating in what is now India, was transmitted to Korea via China in the late 4th century. [10] The Samguk yusa records the following 3 monks among first to bring the Buddhist teaching, or Dharma, to Korea: Malananta (late 4th century) - an Indian Buddhist monk who brought Buddhism to Baekje in the southern Korean peninsula, Sundo - a Chinese Buddhist monk who brought Buddhism to Goguryeo in northern Korea and Ado monk who brought Buddhism to Silla in central Korea. [11]

Baekje artists adopted many Chinese influences and synthesized them into a unique artistic tradition. Buddhist themes are extremely strong in Baekje artwork. The beatific Baekje smile found on many Buddhist sculptures expresses the warmth typical of Baekje art. Taoist influences are also widespread. Chinese artisans were sent to the kingdom by the Liang Dynasty in 541, and this may have given rise to an increased Chinese influence in the Sabi period.

The tomb of King Muryeong (501–523), although modeled on Chinese brick tombs and yielding some imported Chinese objects, also contained many funerary objects of the Baekje tradition, such as the gold crown ornaments, gold belts, and gold earrings. Mortuary practices also followed the unique tradition of Baekje. This tomb is seen as a representative tomb of the Ungjin period.

Delicate lotus designs of the roof-tiles, intricate brick patterns, curves of the pottery style, and flowing and elegant epitaph writing characterize Baekje culture. The Buddhist sculptures and refined pagodas reflect religion-inspired creativity. A splendid gilt-bronze incense burner ( 백제금동대향로 Baekje Geumdong Daehyeongno) excavated from an ancient Buddhist temple site at Neungsan-ri, Buyeo County, exemplifies Baekje art.

Little is known of Baekje music, but local musicians were sent with tribute missions to China in the 7th century, indicating that a distinctive musical tradition had developed by that time.

Relations with China

In 372, King Geunchogo paid tribute to the Jin Dynasty of China, located in the basin of the Yangtze River. After the fall of Jin and the establishment of Song Dynasty in 420, Baekje sent envoys seeking cultural goods and technologies.

Baekje sent an envoy to Northern Wei of Northern Dynasties for the first time in 472, and King Gaero asked for military aid to attack Goguryeo. Kings Muryeong and Seong sent envoys to Liang several times and received titles of nobility.

Tomb of King Muryeong is built with bricks according with Liang's tomb style.

Relations with Japan

Cultural Impact and Military assistance

To confront the military pressure of Goguryeo to its north and Silla to its east, Baekje (Kudara in Japanese) established close relations with Japan. According to the Korean chronicle Samguk Sagi, Baekje and Silla sent some princes to the Japanese court as hostages. [12] Whether the princes sent to Japan should be interpreted as diplomats as part of an embassy or literal hostages is debated. [13] Due to the confusion on the exact nature of this relationship (the question of whether the Baekje Koreans were family or at least close to the Japanese Imperial line or whether they were hostages) and the fact that the Nihon Shoki, a primary source of material for this relationship, is a compilation of myth, makes it difficult to evaluate. The Samguk Sagi, which also documents this, can also be interpreted in various ways and at any rate it was rewritten in the 13th century, easily seven or eight centuries after these particular events took place. Adding to the confusion is the discovery (in Japan) that the "Inariyama sword, as well as some other swords discovered in Japan, utilized the Korean 'Idu' system of writing". The swords "originated in Paekche and that the kings named in their inscriptions represent Paekche kings rather than Japanese kings". [13] The techniques for making these swords were the apparently similar to styles from Korea, specifically from Baekje. [14] [15] In Japan, the hostage interpretation is dominant. [ citation needed ]

Other historians, such as those who collaborated on 'Paekche of Korea and the Origin of Yamato Japan' and Jonathan W. Best, who helped translate what was left of the Baekje annals, [16] have noted that these princes set up schools in Yamato Japan and took control of the Japanese naval forces during the war with Goguryeo, taking this as evidence of them being more along the lines of diplomats with some kind of familial tie to the Japanese imperial family and as evidence against any hostage status. In addition, the translation of the old documents is difficult because in the past, the term "Wa" was derogatory, meaning "midget" or "dwarf," which was a reference to the perceived smaller stature of the average Japanese in ancient times. As a result, it is difficult to assess what is truly being stated, particularly in records made in Korea after the fall of Baekje, as the reference to Yamato Wa (Japan) could have been a derogatory statement by a rival nation (specifically Silla). [ citation needed ]

As is with many long-past histories and competing records, very little can be definitively concluded. Further research has been difficult, in part due to the 1976 restriction on the study of royal tombs in Japan (to include tombs such as the Gosashi tomb, which is allegedly the resting place of Empress Jingū). Prior to 1976, foreign researchers did have access, and some found Korean artifacts in Japanese dig sites. Recently in 2008, Japan has allowed controlled limited access to foreign archaeologists, but the international community still has many unanswered questions. National Geographic has written that Japan "the agency has kept access to the tombs restricted, prompting rumors that officials fear excavation would reveal bloodline links between the "pure" imperial family and Korea—or that some tombs hold no royal remains at all." [17]

In any case, these Koreans, diplomats and royal relatives or not, brought to Japan knowledge of the Chinese writing system, Buddhism, iron processing for weapons, and various other technologies. [21] [22] In exchange, Japan provided military support. [23]

According to mythical accounts in the controversial Nihon Shoki, Empress Jingū extracted tribute and pledges of allegiance from the kings of Baekje, Silla, and Goguryeo. At the height of Japanese nationalism in the early 20th century, Japanese historians used these mythical accounts along with a passage in the Gwanggaeto Stele to establish ideological rationale to the imperialist outcry for invasion of Korea. [24] [25] Other historians have pointed out that there is no evidence of this Japanese account in any part of Korea, in addition to not being in any viable text in China or Korea. [26] [27] Regarding the Gwanggaeto Stele, because the lack of syntax and punctuation the text can be interpreted 4 different ways, [13] [28] one which states that Korea crossed the water and subjugated Yamato. Due to this problem in interpretation, nothing can be concluded. Also complicating the matter is that in the Nihongi a Korean named Amenohiboko is described in Nihon Shoki as a maternal predecessor of Tajima-no-morosuku ( 但馬諸助 ) , [29] This is highly inconsistent and difficult to interpret correctly.

Scholars believe that the Nihon Shoki gives the invasion date of Silla and Baekje as the late 4th century. However, by this time, Japan was a confederation of local tribes without sophisticated iron weapons, while the Three Kingdoms of Korea were fully developed centralized powers with modern iron weapons and were already utilizing horses for warfare. It is very unlikely that a developing state such as Yamato had the capacity to cross the sea and engage in battles with Baekje and Silla. [24] [30] [31] The Nihon Shoki is widely regarded to be an unreliable and biased source of information on early relations with Korea, as it mixes heavy amounts of supposition and legend with facts. [32] [33] [34]

Some Japanese scholars interpret the Gwanggaeto Stele, erected in 414 by King Jangsu of Goguryeo, as describing a Japanese invasion in the southern portion of the Korean peninsula. However, Mohan claims that Goguryeo fabricated the Japanese invasion in order to justify its conquest of Baekje. [24] If this stele was a dedication to a Korean king, it can be argued that it would logically highlight Korea's conquests and not dedicate it to a strange incident regarding Japan. In any case, because of these various possible interpretations, the circumstances surrounding the stele are still highly debated and inconclusive.

Chinese scholars participated in the study of the Stele during the 1980s. Wang Jianqun interviewed local farmers and decided that no intentional fabrication occurred, adding that the lime on the Stele was pasted by local copy-making workers to enhance readability. [35] Xu Jianxin of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences discovered the earliest rubbed copy which was made before 1881. He also concluded that there was no evidence the Japanese had intentionally damaged any of the characters on the Stele. [36]

Today, most Chinese and Japanese scholars contradict the conspiracy theories, based on the study of the Stele itself and advocate Japanese intervention in the era, [36] [37] [38] although its size and effect are disputed.

In the project of writing a common history textbook, Kim Tae-sik of Hongik University (Korea) denied Japan's theory. [39] But, Kōsaku Hamada of Kyushu University (Japan) reported their interpretations of the Gwanggaeto Stele text, neither of them adopting the intentionally damaged stele theory in their interpretations. [40]

The fall of Baekje and the military support from Japan

Some members of the Baekje nobility and royalty emigrated to Japan even before the kingdom was overthrown. In response to Baekje's request, Japan in 663 sent the general Abe no Hirafu with 20,000 troops and 1,000 ships to revive Baekje with Buyeo Pung (known in Japanese as Hōshō), a son of Uija of Baekje who had been an emissary to Japan. Around August 661, 10,000 soldiers and 170 ships, led by Abe no Hirafu, arrived. Additional Japanese reinforcement, including 27,000 soldiers led by Kamitsukeno no Kimi Wakako (上毛野君稚子) and 10,000 soldiers led by Iohara no Kimi (廬原君) also arrived at Baekje in 662.

This attempt, however, failed at the Battle of Baekgang, and the prince escaped to Goguryeo. According to the Nihon Shoki, 400 Japanese ships were lost in the battles. Only half of the troops were able to return to Japan.

The Japanese army retreated to Japan with many Baekje refugees. The former royal family members were initially treated as "foreign guests" (蕃客) and were not incorporated into the political system of Japan for some time. Buyeo Pung's younger brother Seon'gwang (Zenkō in Japanese) ( 善光 or 禅広 ) used the family name Kudara no Konikishi ("King of Baekje") ( 百濟王 ) (they are also called the Kudara clan, as Baekje was called Kudara in Japanese).

Baekje was briefly revived in the Later Three Kingdoms of Korea period, as Unified Silla collapsed. In 892, General Gyeon Hwon established Hubaekje (“Later Baekje”), based in Wansan (present-day Jeonju). Hubaekje was overthrown in 936 by King Taejo of Goryeo.

In contemporary South Korea, Baekje relics are often symbolic of the local cultures of the southwest, especially in Chungnam and Jeolla. The gilt-bronze incense burner, for example, is a key symbol of Buyeo County, and the Baekje-era Buddhist rock sculpture of Seosan Maaesamjonbulsang is an important symbol of Seosan City.

Baekje is believed to have introduced the man'yōgana writing system to Japan, of which the modern hiragana and katakana scripts are descendants. Kojiki and the Nihon shoki both state this, and though direct evidence is hard to come by, most scholars tend to accept this idea. [41]

On 17 April 2009, Ōuchi Kimio (大內公夫) of Ōuchi clan visited Iksan, Korea to pay tribute to his Baekje ancestors. The Ōuchi are descendants of Prince Imseong. [42]

In 2010, Baekje Cultural Land was opened to visitors. The theme park aims to preserve Baekje architecture and culture. [43]

Baekje Historic Areas, which feature locations with remains of the period, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015. [44]

Total population Edit

Before the establishment of the Shūmon Ninbetsu Aratame Chō ( 宗門人別改帳 , religious and population investigation registers) system by the Tokugawa shogunate, several less reliable sources existed upon which an estimate of the population was made. The first record of the population was the Chinese text "Records of Three Kingdoms" (simplified Chinese: 三国志 traditional Chinese: 三國志 pinyin: Sānguó Zhì ), where the summated number of houses in eight countries of Wō (Wa ( 倭 , Japan, Japanese) ) is given as 159,000.

The household registration system (Hukou (simplified Chinese: 户口 traditional Chinese: 戶口 pinyin: hùkǒu ) or Huji (simplified Chinese: 户籍 traditional Chinese: 戶籍 pinyin: hùjí )), which is called koseki ( 戸籍 , family registries) in Japanese, was introduced from ancient China to Japan during the 7th century. According to "Nihon Shoki ( 日本書記 ) ", the first koseki system, called Kōgo no Nen Jaku ( 庚午年籍 ) or Kōin no Nen Jaku ( 庚寅年籍 ) , was established between 670 or 690, and was to be readministered every six years. However, most of the original koseki texts were lost because they were to be preserved only 30 years. The oldest koseki fragments - which were reused as reinforcement papers (Shihai Monjo ( 紙背文書 , scroop document ) ) in Shōsōin ( 正倉院 ) - records names, ages and estates of people including slaves (e.g. 1,119 persons were recorded for the village named Hanyū ( 半布里 ) (present day Tomika-chō ( 富加町 ) ) in 702)). A discarded lacquer-coated paper document (Urushigami Monjo ( 漆紙文書 , lacquer paper document ) ) found in Kanoko C Ruins ( 鹿ノ子C遺跡 ) , Ishioka, Ibaraki records the total population of families of taxpayers in Hitachi no kuni ( 常陸国 ) in 795 was 191,660 (excluding families of officers, families of workers for Shintō shrines and slaves) this is the only reliable remaining census recorded for a whole province before the Edo period. The ancient koseki system later collapsed during the early Heian period, when aristocrats achieved power as landowners of Shōen.

The following estimates by different scholars are based upon the number of houses, villages, kokudaka, areas of rice fields and soldiers which were recorded in "Wamyō Ruijushō ( 和名類聚抄 ) " (10th century), "Record of Song or History of Song (Chinese: 宋史 pinyin: Sòng Shǐ )", "Shūgaishō ( 拾芥抄 ) " (14th century), "Tenshōki ( 天正記 ) " (late 16th century), "Tōdaiki ( 当代記 ) " (early 17th century), or fragments of papers of the Shōsōin (8th century) and others, as well as remnants of specific periods.

by McEvedy & Jones
(1978) [1]

by Biraben
(2005) [3]

by Farris
(2006) [4]

Urban population Edit

Since Kyōto (or Heian-kyō) became the capital of Japan in 794, it has been one of the most important cities in Japan. Hiraizumi and Kamakura flourished under Northern Fujiwara clans (during 12th century) and Kamakura shogunate (1192 to 1333), respectively. The urban area of Kyōto suffered from the Ōnin War (1467 to 1477) and split into two districts, but coalesced into a great city of more than 400,000 inhabitants after the end of Sengoku period. The Christian missionaries led by Francis Xavier reported that the number of houses in Kyōto, Yamaguchi or Hakata was more than 90,000, more than 10,000 or 10,000, respectively, in the late 16th century according to History of Japan written by Luís Fróis. After the unification of Japan by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Ōsaka grew into a populous city with tens of thousands of people. Several castle towns also began to grow, where samurai classes were settled.

Total population Edit

After the Shimabara Rebellion, several daimyōs adopted certification systems where all the individuals were to be registered to temples and shrines to avoid Christianity. The Danka system (or terauke seido ( 寺請制度 , temple-certification system) ) was officially set by Tokugawa shogunate in 1664, and demographic data of individuals registered to temples and shrines (Shūmon Ninbetsu Aratame Chō) were recorded. After decades, Tokugawa Yoshimune decided to survey the total population of Japan and ordered to collect demographic data of all the domains (han ( 藩 ) ) and shogunate territories (tenryō ( 天領 ) ). The first census was surveyed every six years since 1721 and finished in 1846, because the confusion after the Perry Expedition and death of Tokugawa Ieyoshi in 1853 postponed the calculation process of the demographic data collected in 1852, according to Suijin Roku ( 吹塵録 ) edited by (Katsu Kaishū ( 勝海舟 ) .

Some of population censuses during Edo era remain recorded in diaries or official texts as below. The population of samurai class and their servants as well as imperial families and noblemen was officially excluded from the census. In addition, the demographic data were summarized by individual domains according to their rules, where babies and children, Buddhist monks, nuns and Shintō priests, discriminated classes of eta and hinin were sometimes excluded from the total population. Unregistered people were also excluded.

In 1732, Tokugawa Yoshimune also ordered nine big Tozama daimyōs whose Domains were not changed since 1664 to report earlier population growths in their Domains. Here, population of Morioka Domain increased from 245,635 in 1669 to 322,109 in 1732 population of Tokushima Domain increased from 308,880 in 1665 to 470,512 in 1732 population of Tsu Domain increased from 252,061 in 1665 to 287,242 in 1732 population of Okayama Domain increased from 185,043 in 1686 to 396,469 in 1732 population of Kagoshima Domain increased from 260,961 in 1698 to 339,955 in 1732 population of Sendai Domain increased from 599,241 in 1690 to 647,427 in 1732 population of Tsuruoka Domain increased from 126,383 in 1694 to 131,164 in 1732 population of Kaga Domain increased from 551,754 in 1720 to 576,734 in 1732 while population of Nihonmatsu Domain only decreased from 73,351 in 1685 to 70,614 in 1732, according to the records written in "Chikkyō Yohitsu Besshū", which supports the rapid population growth in the early Edo era. Thus, the estimated population of Japan in 1600 ranges from 11 to 22 million, then a rapid population growth took place during the early Edo era to bring Japan to a country of about 30 million inhabitants by 1721, though more precise total population estimates remain arguable. The rapid population growth likely ended by early 18th century, then Japan's total population growth became almost zero during mid to late Edo era.

(17% added)
by Biraben
(1993) [9]

(20% added)
by Kito
(1996) [2]

Total Fertility Rate from 1800 to 1873 Edit

The total fertility rate is the number of children born per woman. It is based on approximated and fairly good data for the entire period. Sources: Our World In Data and Gapminder Foundation. [11]

Years 1800 1801 1802 1803 1804 1805 1806 1807 1808 1809 1810 [11]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan 4.08 4.11 4.14 4.17 4.2 4.23 4.25 4.28 4.31 4.34 4.37
Years 1811 1812 1813 1814 1815 1816 1817 1818 1819 1820 [11]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan 4.4 4.43 4.43 4.44 4.44 4.45 4.45 4.45 4.46 4.46
Years 1821 1822 1823 1824 1825 1826 1827 1828 1829 1830 [11]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan 4.47 4.47 4.48 4.48 4.48 4.49 4.49 4.5 4.5 4.51
Years 1831 1832 1833 1834 1835 1836 1837 1838 1839 1840 [11]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan 4.51 4.51 4.52 4.52 4.53 4.53 4.54 4.54 4.55 4.56
Years 1841 1842 1843 1844 1845 1846 1847 1848 1849 1850 [11]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan 4.58 4.59 4.6 4.61 4.62 4.64 4.65 4.66 4.67 4.68
Years 1851 1852 1853 1854 1855 1856 1857 1858 1859 1860 [11]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan 4.7 4.71 4.72 4.73 4.74 4.76 4.77 4.78 4.79 4.8
Years 1861 1862 1863 1864 1865 1866 1867 1868 1869 1870 1871 1872 1873 [11]
Total Fertility Rate in Japan 4.82 4.83 4.84 4.7 4.55 4.41 4.27 4.13 3.98 3.7 3.7 3.56 3.41

Regional population Edit

Former provinces Edit

Some demographic data for former provinces or kuni ( 国 ) remain recorded. Similarly to the total population, recorded provincial population excludes ruling and exceptional classes, while that in 1873 (after Meiji Restoration) includes all the registered people.

After the beginning of the Tokugawa census, population growth fell almost to zero until the end of the Sakoku policy. On the other hand, regional demographic data suggest that population growth differed depending on area the population of Tōhoku region (Mutsu and Dewa), especially in Mutsu decreased drastically, probably because of famines. The population of Kansai region (Kinai and its surrounding areas), which was the most densely populated and the most cultivated area of that time, as well as that of Kantō region, also slightly decreased, probably because the surplus population in the rural areas moved to the big cities such as Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo, where the life expectancy at birth were much lower than that in rural areas. On the other hand, populations in most of western Japan including Chūgoku region (San'indō and San'yodō), Shikoku (Nankaidō except for Kii) and Kyūshū (Saikaidō) steadily increased, where growth was sustained by the introduction of New World crops such as sweet potato, pumpkin, or corn.

Ryūkyū, Amami, Ezo and Karafuto Edit

The populations of Ryūkyū and Amami Islands were surveyed by the Satsuma Domain, which had formal possession of Satsuma, Ōsumi and part of Hyūga (Morokata-gun ( 諸県郡 ) ) in southern Kyūshū, and recorded in Satsuma domestic texts, although they were not reported to the Tokugawa shogunate and were thus excluded from the total population of Japan. The populations of Ryūkyū and Amami Islands were included in the total populations of Japan after the Meiji Restoration.

Historical demographics of Ryūkyū and Amami Islands and Satsuma Domain. [25]
Year Ryūkyū Amami mainland
Satsuma Ōsumi Morokata,
1632 108,958
1636 111,669 63,723
1659 112,764
1665 110,241
ca. 1670 110,211 31,377 178,101 115,459 60,767 354,327
1672 116,483
1677 122,213 379,142
1684 129,995 183,376 117,583 54,428 355,387
1690 128,567
1699 141,187
1706 155,108 49,472 461,961
1707 155,261
1713 157,760
1721 167,672
1729 173,969
1761 188,530
1772 174,211 74,910 638,101
1795 623,627
1800 155,650 74,593 373,046 177,312 76,971 627,329
1826 140,565 77,667 404,774 169,830 76,598 651,202
1852 132,678 85,125 393,527 157,111 74,727 625,365
1871 457,213 191,334 79,087 727,634

The populations recorded in Satsuma domestic texts include all the classes, from several samurai classes to people who were discriminated against.

On the other hand, the populations of Ainu in eastern Ezo (including Chishima (Kuril Islands)) and western Ezo (including Karafuto (Sakhalin)) have been recorded since 1798 and 1810, respectively, and were thus included in the total population of Japan.

Domains (han) and estates of the realm Edit

Meiji government tried to unify the registered system of Shūmon Ninbetsu Aratame Chō in consonant with that of each other among domains and prefectures into a single registered system of koseki. However population were still surveyed by domains until the Abolition of the han system in 1871. The total population of Japan on July 28, 1870 (32,773,698) was collected by different systems of domains, but included all the registered people of all classes. [10]

The uniformed system of Jinshin koseki ( 壬申戸籍 ) was finally established in 1872, where the discriminated classes of eta and hinin were assimilated into the citizens class (heimin ( 平民 , normal people) ), though they kept unofficially called shin-heimin ( 新平民 , new normal people) ) and discriminated. The honseki population in 1872 (33,110,825) includes 29 imperial members (kōzoku ( 皇族 , imperial family) ), 2,666 noblemen (kazoku ( 華族 , noble family) ), 1,282,167 former samurai class members (shizoku ( 士族 , samurai family) ), 658,074 and 3,316 lower former samurai class members (sotsuzoku ( 卒族 , soldier family) and chishi ( 地士 , squire) , respectively), 211,846 and 9,621 Buddhist monks and nuns (sōryo ( 僧侶 , monk ) and ama ( 尼 , nun) , respectively), 102,477 former Shintō priests (kyū-shinkan ( 旧神官 , former Shintō priest ) ), 30,837,271 citizens (heimin, which includes ca. 550,000 shin-heimin and 2,358 unclassified people in Sakhalin.)

Urban population Edit

After the Battle of Sekigahara, Yamaguchi declined, while Edo (Tōkyō) and Sumpu (Shizuoka) became important under the Tokugawa shogunate. According to Rodrigo de Vivero y Velasco, the populations of Kyōto, Ōsaka, Edo, Sumpu and Sakai were 300,000–400,000 (or 800,000), 200,000, 150,000, 120,000 and 80,000, respectively, while the two towns between Sumpu and Kyōto had 30,000 and 40,000 inhabitants (probably Hamamatsu and Nagoya (or Kiyosu), respectively) in 1609. After the death of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Sumpu became less important, while Edo, Ōsaka and Kyōto became the three most important cities and were called the santo ( 三都 , three capitals) with tens of thousands of inhabitants.

Below is a list of the estimated population of major Japanese urbans during Edo period. Although Hiroshima, Wakayama, Tokushima, Hagi, Takamatsu and Sumpu (Shizuoka) were important castle towns of major domains, estimated populations are not given because of the lack of sufficient demographic records. Population of Shuri, the capital of the Kingdom of Ryūkyū, is also not estimated, while Yokohama was only a small village of less than 100 houses until the opening of the port in 1859.

Estimated population of urbans during Edo period (Saitō, 1984) [27] and recorded population of urbans as of Jan 1, 1873.
Urban 1650 1750 1850 1873 Type
Edo (Tōkyō) 430,000 1,220,000 1,150,000 595,905 de facto capital
Ōsaka 220,000 410,000 330,000 271,992 market town
Kyōto 430,000 370,000 290,000 238,663 de jure capital
Nagoya 87,000 106,000 116,000 125,193 castle town
Kanazawa 114,000 128,000 118,000 109,685 castle town
Kagoshima 50,000 58,000 42,000 89,374 castle town
Hiroshima n.a. n.a. n.a. 74,305 castle town
Yokohama n.a. n.a. n.a. 64,602 fishery village before 1859
Wakayama n.a. n.a. n.a. 61,124 castle town
Sendai 57,000 60,000 48,000 51,998 castle town
Tokushima n.a. n.a. n.a. 48,861 castle town
Hagi n.a. n.a. n.a. 45,318 castle town
Shuri n.a. n.a. n.a. 44,984 capital of Ryūkyū
Toyama 8,000 17,000 33,000 44,682 castle town
Kumamoto 17,000 29,000 41,000 44,620 castle town
Hakata and Fukuoka 53,000 43,000 32,000 41,635 port and castle towns
Hyōgo and Kōbe 20,000 25,000 22,000 40,900 port town and fishery village
Fukui 48,000 43,000 39,000 39,784 castle town
Kōchi 20,000 24,000 28,000 39,757 castle town
Sakai 69,000 47,000 41,000 38,838 port town
Kubota (Akita) 18,000 22,000 27,000 38,118 castle town
Matsue 18,000 28,000 36,000 37,808 castle town
Niigata 4,000 14,000 27,000 33,152 port town
Hirosaki 11,000 31,000 37,000 32,886 castle town
Takamatsu n.a. n.a. n.a. 32,736 castle town
Okayama 29,000 26,000 20,000 32,372 castle town
Sumpu (Shizuoka) n.a. n.a. n.a. 31,555 castle town
Nagasaki 37,000 45,000 31,000 29,656 overseas port town
Hakodate 0 3,000 10,000 28,825 port town
Takada (Jōetsu) 21,000 16,000 18,000 27,460 castle town
Matsuyama 23,000 16,000 16,000 26,141 castle town
Tsuruoka 15,000 18,000 16,000 24,964 castle town
Yonezawa 35,000 32,000 29,000 24,945 castle town
Himeji 21,000 22,000 24,000 24,521 castle town
Hikone 38,000 33,000 29,000 24,368 castle town
Nagaoka n.a. n.a. n.a. 24,067 castle town
Takaoka 12,000 11,000 14,000 23,724 market town
Yamada (Ise) 30,000 23,000 16,000 22,473 Shintō holy town
Fushimi 16,000 33,000 46,000 22,334 riverside port town
Annōtsu (Tsu) 12,000 18,000 16,000 22,080 castle town
Saga n.a. n.a. n.a. 21,660 castle town
Morioka 17,000 27,000 30,000 21,306 castle town
Nara 35,000 35,000 27,000 21,158 Buddhism holy town
Tottori 32,000 35,000 35,000 20,782 castle town
Wakamatsu (Aizu-Wakamatsu) 27,000 26,000 25,000 20,588 castle town
Kurume n.a. n.a. n.a. 20,381 castle town
Obama n.a. n.a. n.a. 19,271 castle town
Mito n.a. n.a. n.a. 19,010 castle town
Shinminato n.a. n.a. n.a. 18,904 port town
Sakata n.a. n.a. n.a. 18,619 port town
Akamazeki n.a. n.a. n.a. 18,500 port town
Kuwana 22,000 19,000 16,000 18,064 castle town
Ōtsu 22,000 19,000 17,000 17,924 lakefront port town
Yamagata 25,000 23,000 21,000 17,631 castle town
Kōfu 26,000 24,000 22,000 15,529 castle town
Tsuruga 21,000 15,000 13,000 11,476 castle town
Ōgaki 22,000 20,000 18,000 10,158 castle town

Estimated populations of castle towns contain considerable errors compared to those of the business towns (Ōsaka, Sakai, Hyōgo, Niigata, Nagasaki, Hakodate and Fushimi) with fewer samurai-class inhabitants, because demographics of samurai classes and their servants (or dwellers of samurai districts) were recorded separately or kept secret, which easily lead to the loss of original data after the abolition of the Han system. On the other hand, the demography of chōnin classes (civilian), or dwellers of chōnin districts plus chōnin classes who dwelt in temple/shrine districts (i.e. excluding demographics of Buddhist monks, nuns and Shintō priests which were usually summed separately), rather remain recorded for most of the cases.

Even the peak estimated population of Edo varies from 788,000 to 1,500,000. For example, Yoshida (1910) estimated the peak population of Edo (shortly before Perry's expeditions) at 1,400,000 based on the average amount of rice carried into Edo (1,400,000 koku per year). Chandler (1987) estimated the peak population of Edo at 788,000 by adding samurai population as 3/8 of the recorded chōnin population. Sekiyama (1958) estimated the peak population of Edo at 1,100,000 by adding samurai and servants population as 500,000 (215,000 Hatamoto, Gokenin, their servants and families, 100,000 shōgun ' s Ashigaru, other lower servants and their families, 180,000 Daimyo, their servants and their families). Diaries recorded that the population of Edo was 1,287,800 in 1837, the population of monks and priests was ca. 40,000 or the samurai population of Edo was 700,973. According to the map of Edo illustrated in 1725, area for samurai occupied 66.4% of the total area of Edo (estimated population density: 13,988 /km 2 for 650,000 individuals), while areas for chōnin and temples-shrines occupied 12.5% (estimated chōnin population density: 68,807 /km 2 for 600,000 individuals) and 15.4% (estimated population density: 4,655 /km 2 for 50,000 individuals), respectively.

Chōnin districts Temples and

Selected recorded populations of urbans listed above are as follows. Sources for koseki censuses are given in Japanese Wikipedia page.

日本 Gods in Tiny Houses

Walking around Kyoto, you come across a temple almost every 5 minutes. You would think that this would house all the kami (gods and spirits) and provide ample space for worshippers, but it seems the kami are facing some kind of housing crisis. Glance down an alleyway or turn a corner and you might just stumble upon a tiny shrine.

These shrines, usually known as hokora (祠) are dedicated to various lesser kami that aren’t attached to a nearby shrine. Though the hokora are Shinto in origin, they often bear the Buddhist swastika, marking them as a religious site. Also in Kyoto many of the hokora are dedicated to Kannon, a bodhisattva – Kannon is one of the links between Japanese buddhism and shinto that shows just how mixed the two religions are, the god is both a kami and a bodhisattva. Therefore its probably better to just call them ‘Japanese’ rather than attempting to assign them a specific religion some even concern local gods or lore rather than gods part of the whole country’s religious discourse.

The hokora below has an inscription that reads “ Commemorating 2600 years of the imperial era. Continued luck in the fortunes of war. Safety and wellbeing for one’s family “. Intrigued, especially by the reference to war, I looked up when 2600 years of the imperial era was – it was 1940, explaining the military inscription. February 11th 1940 was celebrated as 2600 years since Japan’s first Emperor, Emperor Jimmu, ascended the throne according to the Nihon Shoki.

The very specific date of Feburary 11th for Japan’s founding is based on the old lunasolar calendar – according to the Nihon Shoki the Emperor ascended the throne at new year. This falls around the end of January, but the Meiji government, upon making it a national holiday, designated Feburary 11th to make sure people distinguished it from lunar new year.

The Meiji government made Foundation Day a national holiday in order to further legitimise the Emperor as the one sole ruler of Japan by celebrating the ‘unbroken’ bloodline. I say ‘unbroken’ because historians think that the first Emperor was actually usurped by the second or third Emperor rather than the Nihon Shoki’s assertion that the second Emperor was his son. Not to mention that the Nihon Shoki claims that the first Emperor lived to 126, making it even more historically dubious (it also says he was descended from a god…).

After World War II, Foundation Day was banned due to its connection to the cult of the Emperor and State Shinto. It was re-established in 1966, but without the same nationalistic ceremony or links to the Emperor it had before. It is now a day to reflect on what it means to be a Japanese citizen rather than an overt display of nationalistic pride.

Hokora come in all shapes and sizes, some have lanterns, some have flowers, some have inscriptions explaining the temple they belong to, whereas others give no clue as to what god or temple they are linked with. The last two are hokora I saw in Kobe the first in an alleyway to the side of a busy shopping street, and the second at the side of the harbour.

Though small, these hokora are fun to spot and are always different. They often have fresh flowers, so it must be someone’s job to refresh them regularly. These tiny shrines are one more thread adding to the rich tapestry that is Japanese religion.

Nihon Shoki Timeline - History

Japanese literature traces its beginnings to oral traditions that were first recorded in written form in the early eighth century after a writing system was introduced from China. The Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and Nihon shoki (Chronicle of Japan) were complete in 712 and 720, respectively, as government projects.

The former is an anthology of myths, legends, and other stories, while the latter is a chronological record of history. The Fudoki (Records of Wind and Earth), compiled by provincial officials beginning in 713, describe he history, geography, products and folklore of the various provinces.

In the aristocratic culture that thrived early in the eleventh century, a time when the use of the hiragana alphabet derived from Chinese characters had become widespread, court ladies played the central role in developing literature. One of them, Murasaki Shikibu, wrote the 54-chapter novel Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji). Others wrote diaries and stories with their psychological portrayals remaining fresh and vivid to present-day readers.

The function of literature as a means of social intercourse broadened. Composing renga (successive linked verses by several people forming a long poem) became a favorite pastime, and this gave birth to haikai (a sort of jocular renga) in the sixteenth century. The renowned seventeenth century poet Matsuo Basho who perfected a new condensed poetic form of 17 syllables (5-7-5) known as haiku, an embodiment of elegant simplicity and tranquility.

The written literature of Japan forms one of the richest of Oriental traditions. It has received foreign influences since its beginning in the 8th century. Before the middle of the 19th century, the source of influence was the culture of China. After the middle of the 19th century, the impact of modern Western culture became predominant.

Official embassies to the Sui (589-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties of China (kenzuishi and kentoshi, respectively), initiated in 600, were the chief means by which Chinese culture, technology and methods of government were introduced on a comprehensive basis in Japan. The Kojiki (712 Record of Ancient Matter) and the Nihon shoki (720 Chronicles of Japan), the former written in hybrid Sino-Japanese and the latter in classical Chinese, were compiled under the sponsorship of the government for the purpose of the authenticating the legitimacy of its policy.

However, among these collections of myths, genealogies, legends of folk heroes, and historical records, there appear a number of songs - largely irregular in meter and written with Chinese characters representing Japanese words or syllables - that offer insight into the nature of preliterate Japanese verse.

The first major collection of native poetry, again written with Chinese character, was the Man'yoshu (late 8th century The Ten Thousand Leaves), which contains verses, chiefly the 31-syllable waka, that were composed in large part between the mid-7th and mid-8th centuries. The earlier poems in the collection are characterized by the direct expression of strong emotion, but those of alter provenance show the emergence of the rhetorical conventions and expressive subtlety that dominated the subsequent tradition of court poetry.

A revolutionary achievement of the mid-9th century was the development of a native orthography 9kana) for the phonetic representation of Japanese. Employing radically abbreviated Chinese characters to denote Japanese sounds, the system contributed to a deepening consciousness of a native literary tradition distinct from that of China. Poets compiled collections (shikashu) of their verses and, drawings partly on these, the Kokin wakashu (905 Collection from Ancient and Modern Times), the first of 21 imperial anthologies of native poetry, was assembled in the early 10th century.

The introduction of kana also led to the development of a prose literature in the venacular, early examples of which are the Ise monogatari (mid-10th century Tales of Ise), a collection of vignettes centered on poems and the diary Tosa nikki (935 The Tosa Diary). In the late 10th century the ascendancy of the Fujiwara regents, whose power over emperors depended on the reception of their daughters as imperial consorts, resulted in the formation of literary coteries of women in the courts of empresses, and it was these women who produced the great prose classics of the 11th century. Such works as Genji monogatari (early 11th century The Tale of Genji), a fictional narrative by Murasaki Shikibu, and the Makura no soshi (996-1012 The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon), a collection of essays by Sei Shonagon, are considered by Japanese to be a watershed in the development of the native literary tradition.

The chief development in poetry during the medieval period (mid-12th to 16th century) was linked verse (renga). Arising from the court tradition of waka, renga was cultivated by the warrior class as well as by courtiers, and some among the best renga poets, such as Sogi, were commoners. A major development in prose literature of the medieval era was the war tale (gunki monogatari). Heike monogatari (early 13th century The Tale of the Heike) relates the events of the war between the Taira and Minamoto families that finally brought an end to imperial rule it was disseminated among all levels of society by itinerant priests who chanted the story to the accompaniment of a lutelike instrument, the biwa. THe social upheaval of the early years of the era led to the appearance of works deeply influenced by the Buddhist notion of the inconstancy of worldly affairs (mujo). The theme of mujo provides the ground note of Heike monogatari and essay collections Hojoki (1212 The Ten Foot Square Hut), by Kamo no Chomei, and Tsurezuregusa (ca 1330 Essays in Idleness), by Yoshida Kenko.

The formation of a stable central government in Edo (now Tokyo), after some 100 years of turmoil, and the growth of a market economy based on the widespread use of a standardized currency led to the development in the Edo period (1600-1868) of a class of wealthy townsmen. General prosperity contributed to an increase in literacy, and literary works became marketable commodities, giving rise to a publishing industry. Humorous fictional studies of contemporary society such as Koshoku ichidai otoko (1682 The Life of an Amorous Man), by Ihara Saikaku, were huge commercial successes, and prose works, often elaborately illustrated, that were directed toward a mass audience became a staple of Edo-period literature. Commercial playhouses were established for the performance of puppet plays (joruri) and kabuki, whose plots often centered on conflicts arising from the rigidly hierarchical social order that was instituted by the Tokugawa shogunate.

The 17-syllable form of light verse know as haikai (later know as haiku), whose subject matter was drawn from nature and the lives of ordinary people, was raised to the level of great poetry by Matsuo Nasho. He is especially well known for his travel diaries, such as the Oku no hosomichi (1694 The Narrow Road to the Deep North). A number of philologists, among them Keichu, Kamo no Mabuchi and Motoori Norinaga, wrote scholarly studies on early literary texts, such as Kojiki, Man'yoshu, and The Tale Genji.

The imperial restoration of 1868 was followed by the wholesale introduction of Western technology and culture, which largely displaced Chinese culture. As a result, the novel became established as a serious and respected genre of the literature of Japan. A related development was the gradual abandonment of literary language in favor of the usages of colloquial speech.

Futabatei Shimei produced what has been called Japan's first modern novel, Ukigumo (1887-1889 Drifting Clouds). What is strikingly fresh about the novel is the colloquial style of the language, Futabatei's conception of his hero's plight within the context of a quickly changing society, and his subtle psychological examination of the protagonist. in the 1890's, Futabatei's psychological insight was adopted by several young writers. One of the most impressive works of fiction in this style was the story Takekurabe (1895-1896 Growing Up), by Higuchi Ichiyo. In this tale of children living in a red-light district, Ichiyou describes adolescent loneliness and the confusion attending the onset of puberty. Another writer, Shimazaki Toson, relates in his first novel, Hakai (1906 The Broken Commandment), the story of a schoolteacher who hides the fact that he was born in a community of outcaste people until he realizes his only salvation lies in living openly with the truth. After Hakai, however, Toson retreated into his own private world to write in the genre of person history known as the "I-novel" (shishosetsu).

The modern Japanese realistic novel was brought to full maturity by Natsume Soseki. His heroes are usually university-educated men made vulnerable by the new egoism and an overly keen perception of their separation from the rest of the world. Guilt, betrayal, and isolation are for Soseki the inevitable consequences of the liberation of the self and all the uncertainties that have come with the advent of Western culture. These motifs are explored in his novels Kokoro (1914 The Heart), Mon (1910 The Gate), and Kojin (1912-1913 The Wayfarer). Mori Ogai first won acclaim with three romantic short stories set in Germany. The most popular Maihime (1890 The Dancing Girl), deals with the doomed love affair of a a young Japanese student in Berlin with a German dancer. His most representative late works are fictionalized studies in history and biography, such as the life of an Edo-period doctor presented in Shibue Chusai (1916). Akutagawa Ryunosuke was one of Japan's most famous short-story writers. Such stories as Rashomon (1915 Rashomon), and Yabu no naka (1922 In a Grove) are brilliantly told, combining psychological subtlety and a sardonic tone with a fanciful delight in the grotesque. Nagai Kafu, whose life and work reflected the tension between the modern and a yearning for the old Japan, is best known for his elegiac works.

The writer who most clearly reflected the sense of loss and confusion following the shattering experience of World War II was Dazai Osamu. Dazaio's Shayo (1947 The Setting Sun) and the novel published just before his suicide, Ningen shikkaku (1948 No Longer Human), attracted a large readership. Not long after the defeat, Tanizaki Jun'ichiro published his masterpiece, the massive novel Sasameyuki (1943-1948 The Makioka Sisters). A chronicle of the lives of the daughters of a patrician merchant family in its last stages of decline before the outbreak of war, it is a beautiful elegy to the final passing of all that remained of an older and more elegant world.

In novels such as Yukiguni (1935-1948 Snow Country), Nobel laureate Kawabata Yasunari creates enormous distances between his characters, suggesting a dread of intimacy that threatens even the most promising of human relationships. After the war, Kawabata took to writing what he called "elegies to the lost Japan" in such works as Yama no oto (1949-1954 The Sound of the Mountain). Yet Japanese writing in the early postwar years could not be characterized solely in terms of the shock and dislocation of defeat. There was, in fact, a vigorous renascence of literary activity after 1945, and a new group of writers who debuted at this time came to be known as the "first generation" of postwar authors. Members of this group include Noma Hiroshi and Ooka Shohei. The "second generation" of postwar writers includes Abe Kobo and Mishima Tukio. Abe would eventually create a distinctive type of Kafkaesque existential allegory in novels such as Suna no onna (1962 The Woman in the Dunes), while Mishima attracted an international readership with his opulent aestheticism in such works as Kinkakuji (1956 The Temple of The Golden Pavilion).

Critics have posited a turning point in the 1950's, after which Japanese fiction ca no longer be easily characterized in terms of the early postwar consciousness. Beginning about this time, a revival and restructuring of the I-novel form was achieved by a "third generation" of postwar writers such as Kojima Nobui, Yasuika Shotaro, Yo, Yoshiyuki Junnosuke, and Shimao Toshio. Also included in this group is Endo Shusaku, a Catholic convert who examines the issues of betrayal, cowardice, and martyrdom in novels such as Chimmoki (1966 Silence). From the 1960s onward, writers have sought to synthesize various approaches to fiction or to experiment with new modes of representation. Oe Kenzaburo, who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1994, has been a prodigiously inventive fore in contemporary fiction, continuously experimenting with form and mode of presentation in such novels as Kojinteki na taiken (1964 A Personal Matter) and Man'en gannen no futtoboru (1967 The Silent Cry). Tsushima Tuki, the daugther od Dazai Osamu has explored the lives of women who are single parents in Choji (1978 Child of Fortune).

Finally, the generation raised on the international culture of the last decades has found its voice in writers such as Murakami Ryu, author of Kagirinaki tomei ni chikai buru (1976 Almost Transparent Blue), and Murakami Haruki, whose Noruue no mori (1987 Norwegian Wood) sold more than 3 million copies. Toshimoto Banana, who was born in 1964, portrays the lives of people in desperately isolated situations in Kitchin (1987 Kitchen). These writers have been immensely popular with young readers both in Japan and abroad.

The History Of Japan 500-2000 AD

The Nara period takes its name from the site of Heijô-kyô in present day Nara, which served as the imperial capital from 710 until 784.

This period continued to witness the importation and adaptation of Chinese and Korean imperial and religious culture, as well as material culture bronze mirrors from China and iron ingots from Korea were only two of the many categories of things imported. Via trade with China and Korea, Japan was also linked in this early period with rather distant cultures, via the land and sea routes known as the Silk Road. Objects from as far away as the Roman Empire and the Abbasid Caliphate have been found in archaeological excavations, and in storehouses such as the Shôsôin.

The Nara period saw the expansion of Buddhist influence at the court, and both the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki were completed in the early Nara period. The period also saw the rise of the Fujiwara family.

During the period, the emperors of Japan came from Fujiwara family. The Fujiwara Regency was the main feature of government of the entire Heian era.

Just before the move of the new capital to the Kyoto, the Fujiwara Emperor had abolished universal conscription and soon local, private militaries came into being. The Fujiwara, Taira, and Minamoto were among the most prominent families supported by the new military class.

Family administrations now became public institutions. As the most powerful family, the Fujiwara governed Japan and determined the general affairs of state, such as succession to the throne.

Toji Temple. Most famous among over 1000 Buddhist temples.

In 794 the capital of Japan was officially transferred to Heiankyo (present-day Kyoto). Modeled on the Tang capital of Chang’an, Heijō-kyō was laid out in a grid-like pattern, with streets running north-south and east-west. The site was chosen for its auspicious nature according to Chinese geomantic principles, including mountains on three sides, flowing waters, etc. It was laid out in an auspicious grid of nine main roads running north-south and east-west. The Dairi, or Imperial Residence of Fujiwara Family, was situated in the center of the city to the north. The city proper was surrounded by gated walls which restricted the flow of traffic to and from the city.

By the year 1000, little authority was left for traditional officialdom, and government affairs were handled through the Fujiwara family’s private administration making them “hereditary dictators.”

Decline in food production, growth of the population, and competition for resources among the great families all led to the gradual decline of Fujiwara power and gave rise to military disturbances in the mid-tenth and eleventh centuries. Members of the Fujiwara, Taira, and Minamoto families—all of whom had descended from the imperial family—attacked one another, claimed control over vast tracts of conquered land, set up rival regimes, and generally broke the peace of Japan.

Buddhism reached all levels of society during the medieval period the influence of Buddhism is evident in works of Japanese literature written at this time, Essays in Idleness, An Account of My Hut, and the plays of the Noh drama.

Zen Buddhism spreads among the samurai, emphasizing personal enlightenment through discipline and meditation. Gardens of raked sand (representing water) and rocks (representing mountains) are used as places of meditation within temples. The ceremony of serving tea becomes a formalized Zen ritual. The tea room or tea house, built for this purpose, has tatami or rush mats for flooring, shoji, or sliding paper and wood screens for room dividers, and a tokonoma, or ceremonial alcove, to place scrolls of calligraphy and flower arrangements. All of these features become central to Japanese architecture and room furnishing.

Kamakura Shoganate (1185-1333)

In order to restore order in the hotbed of Taira opposition, Yoritomo set up his headquarter at Kamakura, several hundred miles from Kyoto, beginning an interval known as the Kamakura Shoganate. Though the emperor at Kyota theoratically remained in charge, the power transferred to Kamakura. The court of the Emperor remained the center of religious and ceremonial life.

Like the codes of civalry current in Europe at the time, daimyo and samurai prided themselves on acting according to a strict system of royalty and honor, bushido, “the Way of the Warrior.” A samurai was expected to be not just expert with sword and writing brush but unswervingly loyal to his daimyo to the point of death. Indeed, the tradition of seppuku or hara kiri — ritual suicide — developed originally as a way to show one’s “sincerity” and disdain for death and capture on the battlefield.

Japan (1185-1600 AD)

Tokugawa period, also called Edo period, (1603–1867), the final period of traditional Japan, a time of internal peace, political stability, and economic growth under the shogunate (military dictatorship) founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu. As shogun, Ieyasu achieved hegemony over the entire country by balancing the power of potentially hostile domains (tozama) with strategically placed allies (fudai) and collateral houses (shimpan).

As a further strategy of control, beginning in 1635, Ieyasu’s successor required the domainal lords, or daimyo, to maintain households in the Tokugawa administrative capital of Edo (modern Tokyo) and reside there for several months every other year. (Note: Mughals also used to do that). The resulting system of semi-autonomous domains directed by the central authority of the Tokugawa shogunate lasted for more than 250 years.

While merchants and to a lesser extent tradesmen continued to prosper well into the 18th century, the daimyo and samurai began to experience financial difficulties. Their primary source of income was a fixed stipend tied to agricultural production, which had not kept pace with other sectors of the national economy. Several attempts at fiscal reform were made by the government during the late 18th and 19th centuries, but the financial strain on the warrior class increased as the period progressed. During its final 30 years in power the Tokugawa shogunate had to contend with peasant uprisings and samurai unrest as well as with financial problems. These factors, combined with the growing threat of Western encroachment, brought into serious question the continued existence of the regime, and by the 1860s many demanded the restoration of direct Imperial rule as a means of unifying the country and solving the prevailing problems. The powerful southwestern tozama domains of Chōshū and Satsuma exerted the greatest pressure on the Tokugawa government and brought about the overthrow of the last shogun, Hitosubashi Keiki (or Yoshinobu), in 1867. Less than a year later the Meiji emperor was restored to supreme power

Literature in medieval Japan reflects the Buddhist notion of the impermanence of life and the need to renounce worldly attachments to gain release from the sufferings of human existence. An Account of My Hut, Essays in Idleness, Noh drama.

The period spanned from 1868 to 1912 and was responsible for the emergence of Japan as a modernized nation in the early twentieth century.

The leaders of the Meiji government, considered national security and defense to be the top priority in order to prevent subjugation by the Western powers. The nationalistic policy of fukoku kyōhei (rich country, strong military) emphasized Japan’s goals to develop the country economically to catch up with the Western powers and to increase its military strength to ensure its existence as an independent country.

Japan had a feudalistic social structure with a warrior class (samurai) until the downfall of the Shogunate in 1868 and the implementation of numerous reforms over the next five years under the new Meiji government. Members of the former military aristocracy took leadership positions in the new government, and the military bent of some of these leaders became quickly evident, as they strongly pressed for military action in the early 1870s to conquer Korea. A majority of the country’s leaders decided to postpone this military action to concentrate on modernization and industrialization, but even the leaders who recommended not to go to war did not necessarily oppose the action in theory, only that the timing should wait until Japan became stronger industrially and militarily.

In Japanese history, the political revolution in 1868 that brought about the final demise of the Tokugawa shogunate (military government)—thus ending the Edo (Tokugawa) period (1603–1867)—and, at least nominally, returned control of the country to direct imperial rule under Mutsuhito (the emperor Meiji). The oligarchs also endeavoured to abolish the four divisions — warriors, farmers, artisans, and merchants — of society.

Slowly, the warrior class was abolished. The Samurai, as they were educated, took jobs in Government bureaucracy. Furthermore, samurai were no longer allowed to walk about town bearing a sword or weapon to show their status. But while the formal title of samurai was abolished, the elitist spirit that characterized the samurai class lived on.

The military of Japan, being strengthened by nationwide conscription and the infusion of a samurai military spirit, became emboldened to see themselves as a growing world power after winning both the Sino-Japanese war (Ref 1)and the Russo-Japanese war.

The Meiji Restoration, and the resultant modernization of Japan, also influenced Japanese self-identity with respect to its Asian neighbors, as Japan became the first Asian state to modernize based on the European model, replacing the traditional Confucian hierarchical order that had persisted previously under a dominant China with one based on modernity.

Although Japan had made rapid progress in industrialization and modernization up to 1910, it could still be considered a developing country. Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries accounted for 33% of economic output and 67% of employment in 1910. Manufacturing and construction contributed only 23% to economic output, and over half of manufacturing production came from cottage industries employing less than five people. Manufacturing consisted mainly of food products and textiles at 34% each, whereas heavy industry made up only 21%.

On July 30, 1912, the Meiji Emperor died and Crown Prince Yoshihito succeeded to the throne as emperor of Japan. In his coronation address, the newly enthroned emperor announced his reign’s nengō (era name) Taishō, meaning “great righteousness”.

Japan’s Imperialistic Expansion During 1894-1910

Japan forcefully acquired three major foreign territories between 1894 and 1910:
1. Taiwan in 1895 after the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5
2. Korea as a protectorate in 1905 after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 then as a colony when unilaterally annexed by Japan in 1910
3. Kwantung Leased Territories in 1905 in southern Manchuria

Japan fought the wars against China and Russia in 1894-5 and 1904-5, respectively, to ensure that Korea would not be used by another imperialist power to threaten Japan’s security.

Overseas colonies provided the imperialist powers with prestige and status, so Japan’s leaders naturally celebrated when its empire expanded to include Taiwan, Korea, and the Kwantung Leased Territories.

The theory of nationalism provides the best explanations for Japan’s imperialistic actions between 1894 and 1905. The following points support nationalism as the best theory to understand Japan’s wars and colonial acquisitions: (1) Japan’s deep concerns for national security, (2) its emulation of the imperialistic behaviors of Western powers, and (3) Japanese national ideals and personal characteristics. [6]

The Western concept of Social Darwinism, with the ultimate domination of the world by the strongest nations, fit well with belief of many Japanese that they were the chosen people of Asia and a divinely favored race. Yukichi Fukuzawa, one of Japan’s educational leaders and founder of one of Japan’s most influential newspapers, expressed Japan’s early imperialistic desires in 1882, “We shall someday raise the national power of Japan so that not only shall we control the natives of China and India as the English do today, but we shall also possess in our hands the power to rebuke the English and to rule Asia ourselves”

Showa (also Hirohito) Period (1926-1989)

Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45): Invades northern China

In 1938, Premier Konoye Fumimaro pressed China for concessions and declared Japan’s goal of a new order in East Asia.

1940: Japan joined the Axis alliance with Germany and Italy during WW II

1941: The totalitarian regime of premier Tojo Hideki approved the air attack on the US Navy base at Pearl Harbour

1945: Two atomic bombs dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August

Much has been said about the rights and wrongs of the bombings but ultimately they did bring about the end of the war. For the first time in history, Japan had been conquered.

General Douglas MacArthur with Emperor Showa (Hitohito)

Following his radio announcement to the nation that the war had been lost, the Emperor also gave up the claim to divinity and became a symbol of the state (many have argued that he should have stood trial alongside Tojo in the Tokyo Tribunal of 1946. Instead, he remained as a figurehead until his death in 1989). Japan remained under the control of General Douglas MacArthur and the US occupation forces. Considerable social reform was carried out. Women were given the right to vote, workers gained the right to form unions and to strike and freedom of speech, assembly and religion were guaranteed. The signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951 led to full Japanese sovereignty of the main archipelago the following year. The treaty marked the return of Japan to the international community. By 1972, all of the smaller islands under US control had been returned. But even today, the US maintains a considerable military presence in Japan, particularly in Okinawa. Disputes remain between Japan and other countries such as Russia and China over several territories. The 1947 war-renouncing constitution prevents Japan from having conventional armed forces but the Self Defense Forces.

Politically, postwar Japan has been dominated by one party – the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

The final years of the Japanese 20th century saw the death of the Emperor Showa ( also known as Hirohito) and the start of the Heisei Period (1989- ). It also saw drastic changes and human tragedies which caused the country’s people to examine, evaluate and criticize their society. The Hanshin Earthquake and Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas subway attack in 1995 sent shockwaves through the land as has the recent rapid increase in violent and juvenile crime.

Japan profile - Timeline

1853 - US fleet forces Japan to open up to foreign influence after over 200 years of self-imposed isolation.

1868 - End of centuries of rule by Shogun military caste, Empire of Japan proclaimed, and country enters period of rapid industrialisation and trading dominance over East Asia.

1894-95 - Japan goes to war with China, and its better-equipped forces win victory in just nine months. China cedes Taiwan and permits Japan to trade on mainland.

1904 - Japan becomes first Asian country in modern times to defeat an European power when it routs Russia in Manchuria.

1910 - Japan annexes Korea after three years of fighting, becoming one of the world's leading powers.

1914 - Japan joins World War I on the side of Britain and her allies, gaining some Pacific islands from Germany at the end of the war.

1918-1922 - Japan tries to establish buffer zone against Bolshevik regime in Russia's Pacific provinces, forced out by British and US diplomatic pressure and domestic opposition.

1923 - Earthquake in Tokyo region kills more than 100,000 people.

British Empire ends 21-year alliance with Japan, signalling Western and US apprehension of Japan's growing power in East Asia.

1925 - Universal male suffrage is instituted. The electorate increases fivefold.

Ultra-nationalism and war

Late 1920s - Extreme nationalism begins to take hold in Japan as world economic depression hits. The emphasis is on a preservation of traditional Japanese values, and a rejection of "Western" influence.

1931 - Japanese army invades Chinese province of Manchuria, installs puppet regime.

1932 - Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi killed during failed coup by nationalist army officers. Military holds increasing influence in the country.

1936 - Japan signs alliance with Nazi Germany.

1937 - Japan goes to war with China, capturing Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing amid atrocities like the "Rape of Nanjing", in which up to 300,000 Chinese civilians were killed.

1939 - Outbreak of Second World War in Europe. With fall of France in 1940, Japan moves to occupy French Indo-China.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

1941 - Japan launches a surprise attack on US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. US and main allies declare war on Japan.

1942 - Japan occupies succession of countries, including Philippines, Dutch East Indies, Burma and Malaya. In June, US aircraft carriers defeat the Japanese at the Battle of Midway. The US begins a strategy of "'island-hopping", cutting the Japanese support lines as its forces advance.

1944 - US forces are near enough to Japan to start bombing raids on Japanese cities.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

1945 - US planes drop two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August. Emperor Hirohito surrenders and relinquishes divine status. Japan placed under US military government. All Japanese military and naval forces disbanded.

1947 - New constitution comes into force, establishes parliamentary system with all adults eligible to vote. Japan renounces war and pledges not to maintain land, sea or air forces for that purpose. Emperor granted ceremonial status.

1951 - Japan signs peace treaty with US and other nations. To this day, there is no peace treaty with Russia, as the legal successor to the Soviet Union.

1952 - Japan regains independence. US retains several islands for military use, including Okinawa.

1955 - Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) formed. Apart from brief interludes, party governs into 21st century.

1956 - Japan joins United Nations.

1964 - Olympic Games held in Tokyo.

1972 - Japanese prime minister visits China and normal diplomatic relations are resumed. Japan subsequently closes embassy in Taiwan.

Okinawa is returned to Japanese sovereignty, but US retains bases there.

1982 - Japanese car firm Honda opens its first plant in the US.

1989 - Emperor Hirohito dies, succeeded by Akihito.

1993 July - Elections held against a background of bribery scandals and economic decline see the LDP ousted for the first time since 1955. A seven-party coalition takes power.

1993 August - Government issues historic "Kono statement" apologising for Japanese military's war-time use of sex slaves.

1994 - The anti-LDP coalition collapses. An administration supported by the LDP and the Socialists takes over.

Natural and man-made disasters

1995 January - An earthquake hits central Japan, killing thousands and causing widespread damage. The city of Kobe is hardest hit.

1995 March - A religious sect, Aum Shinrikyo, releases the deadly nerve gas sarin on the Tokyo underground railway system. Twelve people are killed and thousands are injured.

Rape of a local schoolgirl by US servicemen based on Okinawa sparks mass protests demanding the removal of US forces from the island.

1997 - The economy enters a severe recession.

2001 March - A Japanese court overturns compensation order for Korean women forced to work as sex slaves during WW II.

2001 April - Junichiro Koizumi becomes new LDP leader and prime minister.

2001 April - Trade dispute with China after Japan imposes import tariffs on Chinese agricultural products. China retaliates with import taxes on Japanese vehicles and other manufactured goods.

2001 August- Koizumi pays homage at the Yasukuni shrine dedicated to the country's war dead, provoking protests from Japan's neighbours. The memorial also honours war criminals.

2001 October - Koizumi visits Seoul and offers an apology for the suffering South Korea endured under his country's colonial rule.

2002 September - Koizumi becomes the first Japanese leader to visit North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il apologises for abductions of Japanese citizens in 1970s and 1980s and confirms that eight of them are dead. Five Japanese nationals return home.

2003 December - Government announces decision to install "purely defensive" US-made missile shield.

2004 February - Non-combat soldiers arrive in Iraq in first Japanese deployment in combat zone since World War II.

2005 September - PM Koizumi wins a landslide victory in early general elections.

2006 July - The last contingent of Japanese troops leaves Iraq.

2006 September - Shinzo Abe succeeds Junichiro Koizumi as prime minister.

2006 December - Parliament approves the creation of a fully-fledged defence ministry, the first since World War II.

2007 April - Wen Jiabao becomes first Chinese prime minister to address the Japanese parliament. Mr Wen says both sides have succeeded in warming relations.

2007 August - On the 62nd anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, almost the entire cabinet stays away from the Yasukuni shrine. Prime Minister Abe says he has no plans to visit the shrine for as long as the issue continues to be a diplomatic problem.

2007 September - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigns, is replaced by Yasuo Fukuda.

2008 June - Japan and China reach a deal for the joint development of a gas field in the East China Sea, resolving a four-year-old dispute.

2008 September - Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda resigns. Former foreign minister Taro Aso appointed as new premier.

2008 November - General Toshio Tamogami, head of Japan's air force, loses his job after writing an essay seeking to justify Japan's role in the second world war.

2009 February - Economics Minister Kaoru Yosano says Japan is facing worst economic crisis since World War II, after figures show its economy shrank by 3.3% in last quarter.

2009 August - Opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) wins general election by a landslide, ending more than 50 years of nearly unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party.

2009 September - DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama elected PM at head of coalition with Social Democratic Party and People's New Party.

2010 June - Prime Minister Hatoyama quits over failure to close US military base on Okinawa. Finance Minister Naoto Kan takes over.

2010 July - Ruling coalition loses majority in elections to the upper house of parliament.

2011 February - Japan is overtaken by China as world's second-largest economy.

2011 March - Huge offshore earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastate miles of shoreline. Damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant causes a radiation leak that leaves extensive areas uninhabitable and contaminates food supplies.

2011 August - Following severe criticism of his handling of the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Prime Minister Naoto Kan steps down. He is succeeded by Yoshihiko Noda.

2011 December - The government announces a relaxation of Japan's self-imposed ban on arms exports. It says the move will allow the country to supply military equipment for humanitarian missions.

2012 June - The lower house of parliament approves a bill to double sales tax, in order to make up the income tax shortfall caused by an ageing population. The governing Democratic Party splits, but retains its lower house majority.

2012 July - Japan restarts the Ohi nuclear reactor, the first since the meltdown at the Fukushima power plant last year, amid local protests.

2012 August - Japan's economic growth slows to 0.3% from 1% in the second quarter as eurozone crisis hits exports and domestic consumption.

Japan recalls its ambassador to Seoul in protest at a visit to the Liancourt Rocks by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Both countries claim the islets, which Japan calls Takeshima and South Korea calls Dokdo.

2012 September - China cancels ceremonies to mark the 40th anniversary of restored diplomatic relations with Japan because of a public flare-up in a dispute over ownership of a group of islands in the East China Sea administered by Japan as the Senkaku Islands and claimed by China as the Diaoyu Islands. Taiwan also claims the islands.

2012 December - Opposition conservative Liberal Democratic Party wins landslide in early parliamentary elections. Former prime minister Shinzo Abe forms government on pledge of stimulating economic growth.

2013 May - Exports rise 10.1% - the fastest annual rate since 2010 - thanks to weaker yen, boosting Prime Minister Abe's economic recovery plan.

2013 July - Prime Minister Abe's coalition wins upper house elections, giving him control of both houses of parliament - a first for a prime minister in six years.

2013 September - Tokyo is chosen to host the 2020 Olympics.

New security strategy

2013 December - Japan approves the relocation of a US military airbase on its southern island of Okinawa. The base, which houses over 25,000 US troops, will be relocated to a less densely populated part of the island.

Japan's cabinet approves a new national security strategy and increased defence spending in a move widely seen as aimed at China.

2014 July - Japan's government approves a landmark change in security policy, paving the way for its military to fight overseas.

A judicial panel recommends that three former executives of the TEPCO utility - which runs the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant - be indicted on criminal charges for their role in the 2011 disaster.

2014 December - The LDP-led government retains its large parliamentary majority in snap elections called by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to seek a fresh mandate for his economic policies, after Japan's economy slips back into recession mid-year.

2015 February - Economy re-emerges from recession in last quarter of 2014, although growth remains sluggish.

2015 July - Lower house of parliament backs bills allowing troops to fight overseas for first time since Second World War, prompting protests at home and criticism from China.

2015 August - Japan restarts first nuclear reactor at Sendai plant, under new safety rules following 2011 Fukushima disaster.

2016 April - At least 44 people die and more than 1,000 are injured as a result of two major earthquakes on the southern island of Kyushu.

These and major aftershocks also leave at least 100,000 people displaced.

2016 August - Emperor Akihito indicates his readiness to abdicate in a rare video message to the public.

2017 June - Parliament passes a landmark bill allowing Emperor Akihito to abdicate.

2017 October - Prime Minister Abe's party and coalition partner win snap elections.

2017 November - Japan is to expand its military base in Djibouti, a move observers say may counterbalance China's growing international influence.

2019 April - Emperor Akihito abdicates in favour of his son, Crown Prince Naruhito.

2020 September - Shinzo Abe steps down as prime minister on health grounds, is succeeded by chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Nihon Shoki Timeline - History

History & Timeline of Buddhism’s Spread

THREE SCHOOLS OF BUDDHISM. Introduced in India around 500 BC by Gautama, Buddhism swept quickly (some 1000 years) across Asia, splitting into three main schools (Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana) as it evolved. In India, its birthplace, Buddhism died out around 1200 AD, succumbing to Muslim invasions and resurgent Hinduism. But by then it was flourishing in Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan -- it came last to Japan, crossing the sea around 520 - 550 AD. Although the Japanese court was quick to adopt Mahayana Buddhism, the teachings of the Theravada and the Vajrayana (Tantric or Esoteric) schools did not go unnoticed or unpracticed. Sects from all three schools are still active in Japan today, but the dominant form is clearly Mahayana. This is especially true when talking about Buddhist sculpture and art. Many of Japan’s Buddhist treasures still survive and are available for firsthand inspection at temples in Nara, Kyoto, Kamakura, and elsewhere. In large part, this artistic legacy tells the story of Mahayana Buddhism. Also, unlike the rigid atheism of Theravada Buddhism (which reveres the Historical Buddha but ignores all other deities), the Mahayana and Vajrayana schools brought with them a large number of Hindu deities (see TENBU) who were adopted into Japan’s Buddhist pantheon. Buddhism in Japan subsequently developed along an extremely syncretic path, mixing together Hindu, Buddhist, and Shintō (kami cult) elements along with influences from Taoism, Confucianism, yin yang theories, zodiac cosmology, star worship, mountain asceticism, shamanism, nature cults, and animism.

AXIAL AGE. Buddhism emerged in the so-called Axial Age (from 800 BC to 200 BC), when the religious foundations of much of the world appeared simultaneously yet independently, including Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Platoism, and other major faith systems. In China, Buddha’s contemporaries were Confucius and Lao-tzu (the founder and “old boy” of Chinese Taoism), and slightly later in the West comes Plato (approx. 427 - 347 BC).

Map courtesy of Buddhanet

Buddhism as practiced today is still divided into these three schools -- (1) Theravada, meaning School of the Elders, but pejoratively known as Hinayana or Lesser Vehicle (2) Mahayana, meaning Greater Vehicle and (3) Vajrayana, meaning Diamond Vehicle also known as Tantric or Esoteric Buddhism. “Yana” is the Sanskrit term for vehicle. The bewildering number of sects are categorized into one of the three schools.

    Found mainly in Sri Lanka, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Often known as the Southern Traditions of Buddhism.

    Found mainly in China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. Often known as the Northern Traditions of Buddhism.
    (Esoteric or Tantric Buddhism)
    Practiced mainly in Tibet, Nepal, and Mongolia, but in Japan has a strong hold with the Shingon 真言 , Tendai 天台 , and Shugendō 修験道 sects. In Japan, Esoteric Buddhism is known as Mikkyō (Mikkyo) 密教 ). Along with Mahayana Buddhism, the Vajrayana traditions are often referred to as the Northern Traditions of Buddhism.

Timeline #1 - Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York)
Overview of Art History in Japan

Timeline #2 - Pacific Asia Museum (need Flash)
Launch site, click “The Perfected One,”
then click the Timeline & Map button.


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