Timeline of Japanese history

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This is a timeline of Japanese history, comprising important legal, territorial and cultural changes and political events in Japan and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Japan. See also the list of Emperors of Japan and Prime Ministers of Japan and the list of years in Japan.

7th century BC[edit]

Year Date Event
660 Mythical Emperor Jimmu ascends to the throne, marking the end of Age of the Gods and start of traditional Japanese history

4th century BC[edit]

Year Date Event
300 Yayoi period start marked by extensive rice cultivation at paddy fields

2nd century[edit]

Year Date Event
180 Civil war of Wa ends, bringing shaman queen Himiko to power somewhere in Western Japan

3rd century[edit]

Year Date Event
201 The Nagata jinja, Hirota Shrine and Ikuta Shrine, the oldest surviving Shinto shrines in Japan, are founded by legendary Empress Jingū.
238 First embassy of Himiko to Cao Wei
248 Himiko dies and succeed by Iyo belonging to Sujin line of kings (Miwa court) in Nara.
250 Kofun period and Yamato period starts. Traditional date to mark the founding of Yamato entity.
266 Iyo embassy to Emperor Wu of Jin
283 Hata clan lead by Yuzuki no Kimi settles in Japan, introducing sericulture (silk farming)

4th century[edit]

Year Date Event
346 Makimuku site abandoned indicating a large changes of Miwa court
350 Unification of Yamato Province
362 King Chūai of Miwa court replaced by king Ōjin of Kawachi court (Saki Court), marking expansion of Yamato Province to entire Kinai

5th century[edit]

Very little is known about 5th century in Japan. The period was definitely marked by volatile inter-state warfare, complex alliances, submissions and betrayals. Some of more constant Yamato polity partners were Baekje and Gaya confederacy, while enemies included Goguryeo, Silla and various Chinese groups. All of the records of the era either did not survive or are contentious.

Year Date Event
404 Goguryeo–Yamato War between Yamato, Baekje, and Gaya against Goguryeo and Silla
430 Yamato polity become a regional power after subjugating several states in West Japan. Details are subject to Mimana controversy.
461 Chronology of the Japanese historical records become consistent. All dates before this entry are reconstructed with foreign or archaeological data
461 Baekje sends an embassy to Japan, as confirmed by both Japanese and Korean records.

6th century[edit]

Year Date Event
507 Kawachi court is succeeded by King Ohoto of Koshi (Keitai line of kings) in Asuka court
527 With the suppression of Iwai Rebellion, the Yamato polity is firmly entrenched in Tsukushi Province, Kyushu
538 Introduction of Buddhism in Japan by Seong of Baekje
538 Asuka period starts. Yamato polity achieve de facto political dominance with full conquest of Shikoku and Kyushu islands
562 The last of states of Gaya confederacy are destroyed, marking extinction of Japonic languages outside Japan.
587 The religious war (Soga–Mononobe conflict) ends with the victory of the pro-Buddhist Soga clan.
593 Soga clan takes control of Japan with the installation of Empress Suiko on throne

7th century[edit]

Year Date Event
603 The introduction of Twelve Level Cap and Rank System in Japan
607 The first embassy under the command of Ono no Imoko is sent to China
645 Asuka period ends with the power of Soga clan broken in Isshi Incident
646 Hakuhō period starts with the Taika Reform.
660 Japanese under command of Abe no Hirafu have massacred Mishihase people in Hokkaido. Next time Japanese will reach Hokkaido over 700 years later.
663 The Japanese navy was decisively defeated in Battle of Baekgang, marking the withdrawal of Japan from Korean politics
665 First coastal defences of Kyushu has been built at now Ōnojō Castle Ruins
672 Succession conflict results in Jinshin War
673 With the reign of Emperor Tenmu, Japan become an empire

8th century[edit]

Year Date Event
701 Taihō Code legal system is accepted and remain in force until 1868
709 The establishment of fort Ideha near modern Akita marking the start of submission of Emishi people in Tōhoku region to Japanese.
710 Nara period starts after Empress Genmei moved the capital to Heijō-kyō.
712 The Kojiki was completed.
713 The provinces were ordered to compile cultural and geographical records, known as fudoki.
718 Fujiwara no Fuhito compiled the Yōrō Code (the update of Taihō Code) to be accepted in 757
720 The Nihon Shoki (1st volume of historical chronicles Rikkokushi) was completed.
724 Emperor Shōmu was enthroned. Also, the Taga Castle near to modern Sendai cite is founded.
735 Genbō and Kibi no Makibi returned from China.
735 Heavy smallpox epidemic has spread from Kyushu, resulting in third of population perishing, 10 years of social instability and 3 transfers of the capital.
740 Fujiwara no Hirotsugu Rebellion erupts on Kyushu
741 Shōmu established the provincial temples.
751 The Kaifūsō poetry anthology was completed.
752 The Great Buddha of Nara at Tōdai-ji was completed.
754 Priest Ganjin arrived from China.
757 Fujiwara no Nakamaro defeated an attempt by Tachibana no Naramaro to seize power.
764 Fujiwara and Emperor Junnin launched a plot against the retired Empress Kōken and the monk Dōkyō (which failed)
773 The Thirty-Eight Years War for the subjugation of Tohoku starts.
781 The Emperor Kammu was enthroned.
784 The capital moved to Nagaoka-kyō.
788 Saichō built Enryaku-ji.
794 Heian period starts after Emperor Kammu moved the capital to Heian-kyō.
797 Shoku Nihongi (2nd volume of historical chronicles Rikkokushi) was completed.

9th century[edit]

Year Date Event
806 The Japanese Kana scripts (invention popularly attributed to Kūkai) have evolved as distinct from Chinese characters
810 Kusuko Incident have propelled Emperor Saga to throne, resulting in 32-years long peaceful period.
815 Shinsen Shōjiroku, the first compilation of Japanese genealogical data, is complete.
839 Last envoy to Tang China sent (some later embassies were cancelled)
840 Nihon Kōki (3rd volume of historical chronicles Rikkokushi) was completed.
842 Jōwa Incident mark the raising power of Fujiwara clan
858 Fujiwara clan solidify their rule over Japan with the installation of Emperor Seiwa
869 Shoku Nihon Kōki (4th volume of historical chronicles Rikkokushi) was completed. Also, a devastating 869 Sanriku earthquake and tsunami happened off Tohoku coast.
879 Nihon Montoku Tennō Jitsuroku (5th volume of historical chronicles Rikkokushi) was completed.
894 Sugawara no Michizane advocates for stopping sending embassies to China

10th century[edit]

Year Date Event
901 Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku (6th and last of historical chronicles Rikkokushi) was completed.
907 Several severe epidemics and drought, resulting in reduction of contacts with the foreign countries
939 Rebellion of Taira no Masakado in Hitachi Province - the first of many rebellions led by professional warriors (samurai)
984 The Ishinpō, the oldest surviving Japanese medical manual, is compiled.

11th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1008 The Tale of Genji is written
1019 Toi invasion to northern Kyushu
1051 The Former Nine Years War (Zenkunen War) against rebellious Abe clan in now Tohoku have started.
1068 The dominance of Fujiwara clan ends with the ascension of Emperor Go-Sanjō to the throne
1083 The fighting in Tohoku flares up again, resulting in Gosannen War (Later Three-Year War)

12th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1156 Hōgen Rebellion has marked the rise of samurai class
1159 The Heiji Rebellion has been defeated, and Taira clan under control of Taira no Kiyomori is dominating the government of Japan - the first example of samurai rule
1177 Shishigatani incident - an attempted rebellion against Taira clan rule.
1180 Genpei War starts. As result, the Imperial capital is briefly moved to Fukuhara-kyō (modern Kobe)
1185 Kamakura period starts after Genpei War ends with the defeat of Taira clan, resulting in establishment of Kamakura shogunate
1189 15 June The Battle of Koromo River have ended de facto independence of Northern Fujiwara clan in Tohoku. As result, first Japanese refugees have settled in Kaminokuni, Hokkaido.

13th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1221 Jōkyū War - an attempt of Imperial family to regain independence from Kamakura shogunate
1232 Goseibai Shikimoku code accepted and used until Edo period, marking militarization of legal system
1274 1st Mongol invasion in Japan repulsed in Battle of Bun'ei
1281 2nd Mongol invasion in Japan repulsed in Battle of Kōan
1293 27 May The deadly 1293 Kamakura earthquake, followed by government in-fighting, struck Japan.

14th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1331 Emperor Go-Daigo initiates Genkō War
1333 5 July Short-lived Kemmu restoration starts with the destruction of Kamakura shogunate in Siege of Kamakura (1333)
1334 Imperial court of Japan splits in two until 1392, resulting in Nanboku-chō period
1336 Muromachi period starts with the establishment of Ashikaga shogunate domination over imperial Northern Court. Daimyo system is established.
1348 4 February Southern Court loses the Battle of Shijōnawate
1350 Kannō disturbance weakens Ashikaga shogunate. Wokou pirates from Japan are becoming rampant in region.
1353 Southern Court wins the Battle of Yawata, enabling the siege of Kyoto in 1354
1368 De facto independence of Kantō region
1370 De facto independence of Kyushu
1392 Nanboku-chō period ends with subjugation of Southern Court to Northern Court

15th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1419 19 June Ōei Invasion to Wokou bases on Tsushima Island
1428 Cholera epidemic and extreme impoverishment in now Shiga Prefecture have resulted in Shocho uprising
1443 The Treaty of Gyehae was signed, resulting in Wokou pirates becoming increasingly non-Japanese
1454 Kyōtoku Incident starts the 32 years of instability and bloodshed in semi-independent Kantō region
1457 Takeda Nobuhiro emerged victorious after repelling an Ainu assault on Kaminokuni, Hokkaido, marking the beginning of Japanese conquest of Hokkaido.
1457 Edo Castle, a nucleus of modern Tokyo, was built.
1467 Ōnin War starts, marking the beginning of Sengoku period - during which violence and power struggle has become the norm
1477 Kyoto has been completely destroyed.
1488 Kaga Rebellion overthrows samurai rule, establishing a theocratic state Kaga ikki in now Ishikawa Prefecture.

16th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1523 Japanese in-fighting results in Ningbo Incident, bringing a trade with China to halt and resulting in a new wave of Wokou piracy.
1543 First Europeans arrive to Japan, opening Nanban trade period.
1560 Battle of Okehazama: Oda Nobunaga emerged victorious.
1570 Oda Nobunaga have started a 10-years long Ishiyama Hongan-ji War to suppress the warrior monks community and Kaga ikki state.
1572 The Japanese society began to stabilize, starting Azuchi–Momoyama period under ruling of Oda Nobunaga and later Toyotomi Hideyoshi
1579 Azuchi religious debate have resulted in enforced religious tolerance.
1581 Oda Nobunaga forces wins Tenshō Iga War
1581 Himeji Castle, the largest in Japan, was built.
1582 Incident at Honnō-ji: Akechi Mitsuhide, an Oda general, betrayed Nobunaga at Honnō-ji and forced him to commit seppuku.
1585 Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded Shikoku
1587 Toyotomi Hideyoshi has launched Kyūshū Campaign
1590 4 August Toyotomi Hideyoshi has prevailed over Late Hōjō clan in Siege of Odawara in Kantō region, completing the re-unification of Japan.
1591 8 October Separation Edict and Population Census Edict froze the social structure of Japan.
1592 23 May Toyotomi Hideyoshi, acting as kampaku (regent) in lieu of Oda Nobukatsu, invaded Korea.
1598 16 December Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98) have ended with Japanese retreat after Battle of Noryang.

17th century[edit]

Year Date Events
1600 21 October Battle of Sekigahara is won by forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu
1603 24 March Edo period starts after Tokugawa Ieyasu received from Emperor Go-Yōzei the title of shogun.
1605 3 February 1605 Nankai earthquake and tsunami.
1605 Ieyasu abdicated from office in favor of his third son and heir, Tokugawa Hidetada.
1609 7 March Invasion of Ryukyu
1610 3 January Nossa Senhora da Graça incident
1611 2 December 1611 Sanriku earthquake and tsunami
1615 3 June The Siege of Osaka is complete with the Battle of Tennōji: Tokugawa Ieyasu ended Toyotomi opposition
1623 Hidetada resigned his office to his eldest son and heir, Tokugawa Iemitsu.
1635 The Sakoku Edict of 1635 was issued, barring Japanese from leaving Japan and barring Europeans from entering, on pain of death. It instituted strict penalties for the practice of Catholicism and severely restricted foreign trade.
The policy of Sankin kōtai was established, which subjected the daimyo to the will of the shogun.
1637 17 December Shimabara Rebellion: A rebellion began against the daimyo Matsukura Katsuie over his persecution of Christianity and onerous tax code.
1638 15 April Shimabara Rebellion: The last of the rebels were defeated in their fortress at Shimabara.
1651 24 April Iemitsu died, leaving his office to the ten-year-old Tokugawa Ietsuna.
Keian Uprising: A coup d'état attempted by several ronin and masterminded by Yui Shōsetsu and Marubashi Chūya failed.
1657 2 March Great Fire of Meireki in Edo
1669 Shakushain's Revolt on Hokkaido.
1680 4 June Ietsuna died and was succeeded by his younger brother, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi.
1686 Jōkyō uprising

18th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1703 20 March ChūshinguraForty-seven ronin were ordered to commit seppuku by the shogun.
1703 31 December 1703 Genroku earthquake and tsunami
1707 28 October 1707 Hōei earthquake and tsunami, followed by Hōei eruption of Mount Fuji.
1709 19 February Tsunayoshi died. His nephew Tokugawa Ienobu succeeded him as shogun.
1712 Wakan Sansai Zue, the first Japanese encyclopaedia, was published.
1712 12 November Ienobu died and was succeeded by his five-year-old son, Tokugawa Ietsugu, under the regency of the shogun's adviser Arai Hakuseki.
1714 24 April The currency system and trade rules were reformed.
1716 19 June Ietsugu died. Tokugawa Yoshimune, a great-grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, became shogun.
1720 The foreign books restrictions are reduced, starting a Rangaku practice.
1730 Kyōhō Reforms aimed for monetization of economy and broader import of European knowledge have started.
1745 Yoshimune retired, leaving his public office to his eldest son Tokugawa Ieshige, although he maintained some influence in the affairs of state.
1754 1754 Horeki River Improvement Incident
1760 Ieshige retired, leaving his office to his eldest son Tokugawa Ieharu.
1771 24 April 1771 Great Yaeyama Tsunami
1782 Great Tenmei famine
1789 Menashi-Kunashir Rebellion on Hokkaido
1790 Kansei Reforms, including Kansei Edict, tighten the isolation of Japan
1792 21 May 1792 Unzen earthquake and tsunami

19th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1807 Failed military expedition to Sakhalin
1825 Edict to Repel Foreign Vessels
1833 Tenpo famine
1837 Morrison incident
1842 Tenpō Reforms lifts the price controls and further reduce contacts with Europeans.
1848 1 July The isolation policy of Tokugawa shogunate has began to crumble by the time of landing of Ranald MacDonald on Rishiri Island.
1853 14 July Mathew C. Perry arrives off the coast of Japan in four ships. Perry orders harbor buildings to be shelled to force negotiations for a letter President Millard Fillmore sent to the ruler of Japan. This incident was coined as the "Arrival of the Black Ships" in Japanese History.
1854 February Second Visit. Mathew C. Perry returns to Japan with eight Black Ships and finds that the Shogunate had prepared a treaty accepting virtually all demands from President Millard Fillmore.
1854 March Mathew C. Perry signs the Convention of Kanagawa. Within five years, Japan signs similar treaties with other western countries, thus ending an isolation period of more than 200 years known as Sakoku (鎖国?), whereby the Dutch and Chinese ships had limited trade exclusivity.
1854 23 December Ansei great earthquakes series starts by 1854 Tōkai earthquake and tsunami
1855 7 February Treaty of Shimoda with Russian Empire was signed.
1855 11 November Ansei great earthquakes series ends with a 1855 Edo earthquake followed by devastating fire.
1858 26 August Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce and other Ansei Treaties were signed, resulting in Ansei Purge.
1862 14 September Namamugi Incident: Four British subjects were attacked by guards on the Tōkaidō for failing to pay proper respect to a daimyo. One, a merchant named Charles Lennox Richardson, was killed.
1863 Order to expel barbarians, Battle of Shimonoseki Straits, Bombardment of Kagoshima and other events
1868 Boshin War resulting in Meiji Restoration and other events
1871 Abolition of the han system, being replaced by a system of prefectures.
1873 Seikanron: The government debated the invasion of Korea.
1873 Land Tax Reform (Japan 1873)
1874 Saga Rebellion
1876 Akizuki Rebellion, Hagi Rebellion and Shinpūren Rebellion
1877 Satsuma Rebellion
1884 Chichibu incident - a peasants rebellion
1891 28 October 1891 Mino–Owari earthquake - strongest recorded inland earthquake of Japan
1894 1 August First Sino-Japanese War starts
1895 17 April First Sino-Japanese War is won by Japanese, resulting in Treaty of Shimonoseki
1895 29 May Japanese invasion of Taiwan (1895)

20th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1904 8 February Russo-Japanese War: Japan launched a surprise torpedo attack on the Russian navy at Port Arthur.
1905 5 September Russo-Japanese War: The Treaty of Portsmouth was signed, ceding some Russian property and territory to Japan and ending the war. Pro-war activists have staged the Hibiya incendiary incident netherless.
1910 22 August Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910 completes the annexation of Korea.
1910 December Japanese Antarctic Expedition starts
1914 31 October Siege of Tsingtao starts as part of World War I
1919 1 March March 1st Movement signal the start of the Korean independence movement
1923 1 September 1923 Great Kantō earthquake
1927 Shōwa financial crisis
1930 27 October Wushe incident - a rebellion on Taiwan
1931 18 September Japan invaded Manchuria in the aftermath of the Mukden Incident.
1932 1 March Manchukuo, the puppet state of Japan, is established
1937 7 July Second Sino-Japanese War starts.
1940 22 September Japanese invasion of French Indochina starts
1941 13 April Soviet-Japanese Border Wars ends as a Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact was signed.
1941 7 December Japan Attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Japan has declared war to US, Dutch and British, marking the start of Pacific War theatre of World War II
1945 6 August Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
1945 16 August Following Surrender of Japan, the Soviet invasion of Manchuria starts and continues on as Kuril Islands dispute
1946 3 May In the controversial International Military Tribunal for the Far East, the prosecution began of Japanese leaders for war crimes.
1947 3 May Constitution of Japan goes into effect.
1956 12 December Japan joins United Nations
1964 10 October 1964 Summer Olympics: Tokyo hosted the Olympics, marking the first time the Games were held in Asia.
1968 Japan surpassed West Germany to become the second largest economic power in the world.
1969 18 January Student protests against the Vietnam War and American use of bases on Japanese soil culminated in a short-lived takeover of Tokyo University.
1970 11 February The first successful launch of the Lambda 4S rocket places the Japanese Osumi satellite on orbit.
1971 24 November 1971 Okinawa Reversion Agreement is ratified in the aftermath of the Koza riot and other incidents
1974 Prime Minister Eisaku Satō, the first Asian to do so, accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.
1989 29 December The Tokyo Stock Market index, Nikkei 225, hits its peak at 38,957 before closing at 38,916 for the day
1991 Lost Decade (Japan): The Japanese asset price bubble popped.
1995 17 January Great Hanshin earthquake
1997 11 December Kyoto Protocol to regulate greenhouse gases emissions was adopted.

21st century[edit]

Year Date Event
2011 11 March 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, followed by Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster

See also[edit]

Cities in Japan

Further reading[edit]

Published in the 19th century
Published in the 20th century
Published in the 21st century

External links[edit]