Brief History of Japan
Heian period (794 - 1186)
The Heian period was one of those amazing periods in Japanese history, equaled only by the later Tokugawa period in pre-modern Japan, in which an unprecedented peace and security passed over the land under the powerful rule of the Heian dynasty. Japanese culture during the Heian flourished as it never had before; such a cultural efflorescence would only occur again during the long Tokugawa peace.
Kamakura period (1186 - 1333
The Kamakura period (1186 - 1333) is heralded by the location of political power in Kamakura, located about 28 miles southwest of modern-day Tokyo. The Imperial court gave recognition to the de facto rule of Minamoto Yoritomo by conferring on him the title shogun after he defeated the Taira family in 1185 decisively in the battle of Dan no Ura. Yoritomo established his base in Kamakura. The kamakura bakufu (tent government) was Japan's first military or warrior government. The bakufu controlled the counrty through a system of appointed governors and stewards. The bakufu's main area of control was in the eastern provinces far from Kyoto, where the emperor still lived. Warrior bands which had previously been under the rule of Kyoto gave their allegiance to the Minamoto and the system of bakufu rule. This shift in political power marks th ebeginning of the Medieval period in Japan, and era that lasted roughly until the beginning of the 17th century. This political change had long lasting effects; although various clans held power through the ages, the shogunate form of government lasted until the 19th century with the collapse of the Tokugawa in 1868.
Edo Period (1603 - 1867)
The 265-year period between 1603 (when Tokugawa Ieyasu became the generalissimo or great "shogun" of the Tokugawa shogunate) and 1867 (when Tokugawa Yoshinobu formally returned political authority to the emperor) is called the Edo Period. Edo is the former name for what is now Tokyo. This period was given its name because the feudal government at the time was headquartered in Edo, rather than in Kyoto where it was previously located.During most of the Edo Period, Japan was closed off to the world, suffered no invasion from the outside, and had virtually no exchange with other countries. For the most part, it was a peaceful period, with almost no war inside the country, and marked a remarkable time of development in the economy and culture of Japan.
Meiji Period (1868 -1912)
Meiji Period in Japanese history beginning with the enthronment of the Meiji emperor and ending with his death. It was a time of rapid modernization and westernization. Feudal domains were abolished and replaced with prefectures; daimyo and samurai were relieved of their special privileges. Not all samurai were happy with the changes, and there were numerous rebellions. To secure a strong central government, a national army was formed and universal conscription was enacted. A new agricultural tax was instituted to finance the new government, and a decimal currency was introduced. Eager to encourage economic growth, the government aided the textile industry, established railways and shipping lines, and founded an ironworks. Education was also reformed, and compulsory coeducational elementary schools were introduced. By 1912 the goals of the reforming movement called the Meiji Restoration had been largely accomplished: the unequal treaties with Western powers had been revised, the country was developing well economically, and its military power had won the respect of the West
Taisho - Shōwa
In July of 1912, the Meiji Emperor of Japan died, and was replaced by his son, the Taisho Emperor. In this event, Japan saw the changing of an era, and although the late Meiji period certainly showed trends in the directions toward which Japan and Japanese culture would move in the next 14 years, the Taisho period can also be seen as a break with the realities of Meiji and the beginning of a new global and domestic context for the Japanese people.The Shōwa period was longer than the reign of any previous Japanese emperor. During the pre-1945 period, Japan descended into political totalitarianism, ultranationalism and fascism culminating in Japan's invasion of China in 1937. This was part of an overall global period of social upheavals and conflicts such as the Great Depression and the Second World War.
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