Samurai Time Line

660 B.C.  Legend says Jimmu Tenno became Japan's first emperor and set up the ruling Yamato State.  Weapons and armor develop.

400's A.D.  Horses introduced to Japanese fighting.

500's A.D.  Buddhism arrives in Japan; becomes a powerful philosophy for rulers and warriors.

646 A.D.     Taika Reforms Began.

702 A.D.     Taiho law codes established the Great Council of State.

710 A.D.     The Japanese court establishes first long term capital in the city of Nara.

794 A.D.     Heian period begins, the capital is moved to the city of Kyoto.

858 A.D.     Taira Masakado revolted and proclaimed himself "The New Emperor."  Other samurai leaders exerted their influence across the land and changed the history of Japan.

900's A.D.   The warrior class gains strength in the countryside.

995 A.D.      Fujiwara Michinaga comes to power.

1000 A.D.    Sei Shonagon composes "The Pillow Book"

1008-20 A.D. Murasaki Shikibu writes "The Tale of Genji"

1160 A.D.     Taira Kyomori over comes the Minamoto to become military leader of Japan, Fujiwara dominance ends.

1180-85 A.D.  Minamoto Yoritomo takes up arms against the Taira clan in The Gempei War.  And establishes the Kamakura bakufu Heian era ends.

1192 A.D.    Yorimoto became first permanent Shogun of japan and set up his samurai government in Kamakura.

1274 A.D.  Mongols invade Japan.  The samurai defeat the Mongols after many years of fierce fighting, that change the way wars are fought by the samurai.  A second attempt by the Mongols in 1281 also fail.  They develop a style of formation combat and depend more on swords as a primary weapon in battle.  

1331-33 A.D.    Go-Daigo becomes the 96th Emperor of Japan.  After battling Emperor Go-Daigo for supremacy, the Kamakura bakufu is overthrown.

1336 A.D.    Ashikaga Takauji defeats Go-Daigo's forces and names a new emperor in Kyoto, Go-Daigo sets up a southern court.

1392 A.D.    The northern and southern courts are reconciled.

1400's A.D.  Master swordsmen establish dojos to teach kenjutsu.

1467-77 A.D.  The Onin War sees the decline of Shogun power and begins the Sengoku Jidai (The Age of the Country at War) which last 150 years.

1543 A.D.      Portuguese guns are introduced into Japan.

1549 A.D.      Jesuit Francis Xavier arrives and begins proselytizing.

1560 A.D.      Oda Nobunaga begins the process of unifying Japan.  

1568 A.D.      Oda Nobunaga seizes Kyoto, Sengoku Jidai draws to a close.

1573 A.D.       Last Ashikaga shogun is expelled from Kyoto.

1575 A.D.       Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu win battle at Nagashino.

1582 A.D.       After Nobunaga is assassinated, Toyotomi Hideyoshi seizes power.

1592 A.D.      Hideyoshi invades Korea for the first time, a second invasion occurs in 1597.

1598 A.D.      Troops are withdrawn from Korea after Hideyoshi dies.

1600 A.D.      Ieyasu asserts military hegemony with a victory at Sekigahara, the first Dutch ship arrives.

1603 A.D.      Tokugawa Ieyasu acquires title of shogun, Okuni's troupe perform first kabuki dances in Kyoto.

1605 A.D.      Miyamoto Musashi, Japans most famous swordsman, begins hi musha-shugyo (Warrior Pilgrimage).  Musashi fought and won more than 60 duels before the age of 30.  He founded the Individual School of Two Skies and taught for many years.  At the age of 60, Musashi wrote Gorin No Sho (The book of Five Rings), the most famous writing about the Japanese sword arts. He also wrote "The 35 Articles on the Art of Swordsmanship."

1610 A.D.       The Dutch establish a trading post on Kyushu.

1612-14 A.D.  Tokugawa expels the Franciscans and Jesuits and outlaws Christianity.

1615 A.D.       Osaka Castle falls to Tokugawa, Tokugawa Ieyasu draws up the Buke Sho Hatto (Rules for Martial Families) before his death.  It gave the samurai 13 guides to living as a warrior during peace time.

1630 A.D.       Japan closes its doors to the outside world for more than 200 years.

1648 A.D.       Genroku era begins.

1694 A.D.       Matsuo Basho's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" is published.

1703-08 A.D.   Earthquakes, floods, and fires ravage Japan, Mount Fuji erupts, and a measles epidemic breaks out.

1704 A.D.       Genroku era ends.

1854 A.D.       Commodore Matthew Perry opened trade between the United States and Japan.

1867 A.D.       Emperor Mutuhito regained his traditional powers and took the name Meiji.  It was the beginning of the Meiji Restoration.  Meiji set up his new capital city in Edo (Tokyo).

1868 A.D.       Emperor Meiji introduced the "Five Articles Oath" which began the dismantling of the Samurai caste.

1873 A.D.       Emperor Meiji established an army based on conscription; an army open to anyone.

1876 A.D.       Emperor Meiji declared a new law that ended the wearing of swords.  The samurai had lost their profession and their right to wear swords.  Their position as a special class ended after almost 1,000 years.

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