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Japan

Describes the fascinating history and culture of Japan, the "Land of the Rising Sun." Once a major military power in the Pacific, modern Japan is an economic powerhouse.
  1. All About the Samurai (6)
  2. Feudal Japan (12)
  3. Hideyoshi Toyotomi (8)

History of the Geisha
The geisha of Japan were (and are) highly trained and talented entertainers, adept in the arts of music, poetry and conversation. Geishas were distinct from prostitutes, and usually did not perform sexual favors for their customers.

Pictures of Japanese Geisha
Woodblock prints and photographs of Japanese geisha, dating from 1777 through 2010. See how geisha have changed through the years - and how they have stayed the same.

Japan: Facts and History
A profile of Japan, including information about its history, culture, people, and land.

Beauties of Heian Japan
During the Heian era, Japanese noble women adhered to a somewhat odd standard of beauty.

Beauty in Heian Japan, 794 - 1185 A.D.
In Heian-era Japan (794-1185), beauty standards were quite different from those of modern-day Japan. Learn here about makeup and fashion in ancient Japan.

Profile of the Ninja
Spider-like figures in black scuttling over roof-tops in the dark, blades gleaming in their hands... This is the ninja of movies and comic books, but what is the historical reality?

Timeline of Hideyoshi Toyotomi's Life
Hideyoshi was born into a peasant family during the tumultuous Sengoku, or "Warring States" Period in Japan. Despite his lowly birth and his skinny, somewhat rat-like appearance, Hideyoshi rose from the rank of sandal-bearer to general in Oda Nobunaga's army... and then de facto ruler of Japan.

Yoshitoshi Taiso's Ghosts and Demons
Yoshitoshi Taiso was Japan's last great master of the woodblock print, and he created some very memorable images of ghosts, monsters and demons.

Japanese Hairstyles Throughout the Ages
Pictoral history of the evolution of hairstyles in Japan. Noble women throughout the ages followed many fashions in the court of the Japanese Emperor. See some of the different hairdos here.

What Was the Meiji Restoration?
The Meiji Restoration in Japan signalled the end of the shogunata system and the beginning of modern Japan.

Why Is the Yasukuni Shrine in Japan Controversial?
Learn more about Japan's controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which is dedicated to those who died on behalf for the Japanese Empire between the Meiji Restoration and World War II.

The Satsuma Rebellion
The Satsuma Rebellion of 1877 was the last stand of the samurai warriors against the social upheaval of the Meiji Restoration in Japan.

Comparing Nationalism in China and Japan
How did rising nationalism in Japan compare with that in China during the important period between 1750 and 1914?

Emperor Akihito: What Does the Japanese Emperor Actually Do?
The Japanese emperor was once considered a god/king, but today he is largely a ceremonial figure. So, what does the current emperor, Akihito, do with his time? Some of his duties and hobbies may surprise you!

The Tokugawa Shoguns, Edo Japan, 1603 - 1868
For more than 250 years, the Tokugawa shoguns ruled Japan from their capital at Edo (Tokyo). They relied on samurai warriors and their daimyo lords to keep Japan's complex feudal-style social system in order, up until the Meiji Restoration of 1868.

The Showa Era in Japan
The Showa Era in Japan was the reign of Emperor Hirohito, who led the country in to World War II.

The 47 Ronin: A Japanese Samurai Story
The 47 Ronin, or masterless samurai, avenged their lord's death at the expense of their own lives, and became some of the most famous Japanese samurai in history.

The Ninjas' Last Battles
Learn more about the ninjas' final battles here. In the late 16th century, Oda Nobunaga began to reorganize chaotic feudal Japan, and the ensuing peace spelled the end of the ninjas.

The Ceramic Wars
In the sixteenth century, Japan invaded Korea twice and kidnapped tens of thousands of Korean artisans, including potters.

The Four-Tiered Class System of Feudal Japan
Feudal Japan had an interesting four-tiered class system, with samurai warriors on top and merchants on the bottom.

The Mongol Invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281
In 1274, the Mongol emperor of China, Kublai Khan, sent an armada to invade Japan. This invasion was repelled by the samurai, and a typhoon which sank the Mongol ships. The Mongols invaded again in 1281, but a second typhoon (called a kamikaze - divine wind) once more destroyed their armada after seven weeks of fighting.

The Battle of Hansan-do, 1592
In 1592, daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi sent his samurai army to invade Joseon Korea, on the way to conquering Ming China and then India. The Japanese Army never made it past Korea, though, and the naval Battle of Hansan-do was pivotal in turning back Hideyoshi’s troops.

Why Were Japan's Emperors Considered Gods?
Japan's emperors were considered to be gods for centuries. Why was that? What happened to end it?

History of the Akita Dog
History of Japan's akita dog breed, known for its loyalty and courage.

Saigo Takamori | The Last Samurai
Biography of Saigo Takamori, famed in Japan as the Last Samurai. He played a key role in forming the Meiji government, and in the Satsuma Rebellion.

The Yakuza
A brief history of the Yakuza, Japan's organized crime syndicates with roots back in the Tokugawa period.

7 Famous Ninja
Learn about seven of the most famous ninja of all time.

Commodore Matthew Perry Opens Japan, 1853-54
In 1853-54, the American Commodore Matthew Perry and a fleet of steam warships entered Tokyo Bay and demanded trade relations with Japan.

Aum Shinrikyo, Japan's Killer Cult
Aum Shinrikyo is famous for the Tokyo subway sarin attack in 1995, but there is much more to this Japanese cult and terrorist organization's story.

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