History of Japan - Essay Sample for Your Academic Purposes

Published: 2022-05-25
History of Japan - Essay Sample for Your Academic Purposes
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories: History
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1255 words
11 min read

The Prehistory of the Japanese Archipelago

Japan is one of the countries with a lively history in the world. The immigrants were from Asia many years ago, and Japan had noticed the rise and fall of emperors, separation from other nations, ruled by samurai warriors, developments across most parts of Asia, and destruction. Tokyo is the capital city of Japan, and other major cities include Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Kyoto, Kobe, and Fukuoka. It has a monarch constitution and currently is ruled by Emperor Akihito. He has very little political powers hence he is serving as a diplomatic and symbolic leader in Japan. The cabinet is headed by the political leader who is the Prime Minister currently led by Shinzo Abe and a dual legislature comprising of 480 seat house representatives and 242 seat house councilors. The country has a four-tier court structure with 15 members of Supreme court. Most of them speak Japanese as their main language and three writing system which include Hiragana, katakana, and Kanji. Their Archipelago has more than 3,000 islands, with 377,835 square kilometers as the whole region with four major islands which include Kyushu, Honshu, Shikoku, and Hokkaido. In terms of technology, Japan is one of the most developed countries in the world hence it is the second biggest economy by GDP. Japan imports lumber, metal ores, food and oil and export transportation equipment, automobiles, steel as well as both office and consumer electronics.

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History of Japan

Japan was probably settled roughly 35,000 years ago by Asian mainland Paleolithic people. Approximately 10,000 years ago, toward the end of the last Ice Age, a culture known as Jomon developed who wore like hunters and gatherers, lived in wooden houses and elaborated clay vessels. Yayoi was the second wave of settlement introduced weaving to Japan, rice cultivation, and metalwork. Kofun were the first recorded settlers (250-538 A.D), headed by a class of noble warlords. According to Chinese writing, Buddhism joined Japan during Asuka era, 538-710. Later during the Heian period, 794-1185, Japan culture grew very fast where ruling court turned out strong prose, poetry, and art. Samurai warriors came the same period and took over the power in 1185 until 1968. It was until 1868 when a new constitutional monarchy was developed and led by Meiji Emperor. After his death, the son became the Taisho Emperor between 1912 and 1926. Showa Emperor led Japan between, 1926-1989 when it was restructured as a newly industrialized country.


Most of Japanese follow a syncretic combination of Buddhism and Shintoism; however, Shinto is their main religion while Buddhists originated from Baekje Korea. Shinto and Buddhists have a common religion where Buddhist temples are built at the important sites of Shinto shrines. Shinto was the to migrate to Japan with their version of Shamanism prevailing the forces and spirits of nature. Shinto does not have sacred scriptures such as bible or sutras (Breen, John, and Teeuwen, 8). Their "gods are known as kami. Shinto rituals keep away evil spirits through prayers, offerings, and purification to kami. Major offerings include sake, food, salt, branches, and rice while purification ritual is done when entering the shrine. Watching or participating in the past ceremonies brings a sense of joining the religious traditions culture. Participating their ceremonies as a viewer the aesthetics of the rituals can have a strong spiritual and psychological effect. People can as well relate to its ancient as the traditions founded over 2,000 years ago sustained the religion (Breen, John, and Teeuwen, 8). Its community-oriented practices and views greatly helped the Japanese people to date. Shinto is of importance to Japanese as they know the importance of their original religious beliefs of strengthening their bond as a community or family. Generally, Shinto is an exceptional religion as its traditions are still applied in the Japanese society.

Yamato Clan

This was the first political structure to begin in Japan based on huge independent clans known as uji with influential leaders. This clan was known for their courageousness in battle as well as their superior ways of fighting hence all the other clans in Japan became subject to Yamato clan. Those Yamato who settled in Nara, south of Osaka developed satisfactory domination; thus, their leader became the first Emperor of Japan (Hansen and Kenneth 238). Yamato clan applied new technologies in the military. They also rode horses and used to fight with swords and spears. Finally, they were able to control the norths and west of Japan and managed to intermarry with other clans.

Prince Shotoku

Prince Shotoku governed Japan from (594-622), and one of the most popular figures in Japanese history. Prince Shotoku was a major supporter of Japanese Buddhism and culture. Besides, the prince introduced principles of the Chinese government, build 46 temples and Buddhist within Japan like the popular site of Horyuji and Shitennoji (Williams 195). He also encouraged Chinese to come together and build the nation. The strongest achievement of Prince Shotoku was his government reforms. He introduced Chinese cap rank' structure comprising of 12 levels for nation officials, each level symbolized by the color of the official's hat. Prince Shotoku eliminated the right to impose taxes apart from the Emperor and eliminated corruption. He was also popularly known for creating a new constitution known as Seventeen Article Constitution. In addition, before his death, he is remembered for social-welfare steps and irrigation projects.


It is at the far end of the north of the Yamato Plain, and today it possesses eight popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites which include Heijo Palace, Todaiji, Kofuku-Ji, Yakushi-ji, Toshodai-Ji, Gango-Ji, Horyuji, and Kasuga Taishi. Thus, making it one of the major places to adventure the architecture of ancient Japan. During this time, Japan had enhanced its diplomatic relations with Korea and China, one of the powerful countries through acceptance of Buddhism and incorporation of some valuable cultural advancements. During the same era, a university was build which was devoted to the Confucian tradition, and a sprawling imperial palace was constructed and expanded the bureaucracy state to roughly 7,000 civil servants. Later the Japanese royal court was affected by internal fights for favors and position among the society, and Emperor Kammu was also concerned about the development effect of the influential Buddhist monasteries within the city hence moving the capital to Nagaokakyo in 784 CE.

Fujiwara clan

Fujiwara Clan was a very influential extended group of a family which ruled all regions of the Japanese government in the Heian period. It originated from Fujiwara no Kamatari in 645 CE where men held on the high official positions and working as regents to the Emperor while their daughters got married into the imperial family (Hane 20). Fujiwara no Kamatari was the valuable friend to Prince Naka no Oe who formed a powerful Soga clan that dominated most government position. Fujiwara no Yushifusa was the clan leader in 804-872, CE where he put his seven-year grandson on the power in 858 CE and officially became his adviser. Fujiwara no Michinaga was another crucial figure who became the clan leader in 995 CE. He was the most powerful figure during his reign in Japan. By the 12th century, Fujiwara power weakened and replaced by Taira and Minamoto clans.

Work Cited

Breen, John, and Mark Teeuwen. A New History of Shinto. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Hane, Mikiso. Japan: A short history. Oneworld Publications, 2013.

Williams, Yoko. Tsumi-offence and retribution in early Japan. Routledge, 2013.

Hansen, Valerie, and Kenneth R. Curtis. Voyages in World History, Volume II, Brief. Cengage Learning, 2012.

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