Odamachi 2



660 BCE - 500 501 - 800 801 - 1226 1227 - 1500 1501 - 1700 1701 - 1926 1927 - TODAY


February 11, 660 BCE : Japan was born. That day, the so-called First Emperor, Jimmu, was reportedly celebrating the Day of the Goddess of the Sun for the first time. Hence, this is also the birth of Shintoism.

Before and after that feast, Emperor Jimmu was busy enlightening the clots of unnamed people around Central Japan that didn't welcome the reign of the first Son of the Rising Sun. This was done by whacking their heads off.


Big photographs of the birthplace of Japan -- and I mean the nation.

History & pictures of the forgotten natives of Japan: the Ainu people.

Everything about Shintoism.


Ainu    Jimmu    Ise

Ainu people never found peace even when they were driven to the last refuge in Hokkaido.

Click here for pictures of the Ainu warriors, homes, clothes, etc.

Jimmu, the first Emperor of Japan, has been seen as a character of a folklore by most historians. But that doesn't make him insignificant; he's the model of real-life Emperors later, anyway.

Click here for all Emperors, Empresses, Regents, Chief Ministers, Shoguns, and so on, since 660 BCE until today.

Ise hosts the holiest of holy shrines in Shintoism. This entire complex has been pulled down and then rebuilt again every 20 years, faithfully following the Goddess of the Sun's decree.

How could they do that, you may ask. The answer is: every building in historical tourist-destinations were made without any single nail.

Click here for pictures and elaboration of the 3,000 years of Japanese carpentry.


About when, exactly, the Japanese invaded Japan, historians never agree. Not even today. So, they might have sailed to the Japanese isles either before 660 BCE or around Year One in 'Christian' calendar; and they might have come from the edges of China or Manchuria.


"Jomon" site, Hyogo

The site where prehistoric Japanese 'palace' had been found at, in Hyogo, Kyushu.

Click here for Japanese Shinto Gods & Japanese 'Genesis'   BIG Pictures of Hyogo Now

How Japan Looked Like Kyushu: 10,000 - 300 BCE Yamato: 300 BCE - 250 Asuka: 250 - 552
(Check those picture pages out, or you'll never know that the Japanese had already made statues that looked like their World War II pilots in 300 BCE, and positively beaten George Lucas).


660 BCE until Year 1 : Nothing important happened; just some mail to and from places such as Korea and China through Korea, and Japan was, to them, a country named 'Wa', whose natives were disposed of and the land was ruled by the invaders thru chiefdom, the strongest of the chiefs was the one the Japanese later called 'Emperor'.

That far the Koreans were accurate, because since Jimmu's time the actual title of Japanese Emperors was 'Chief' -- 'Nin-o' (chief of men), 'Omi' (great man), and variants of those, none of which had anything to do with imperial glitter but based largely on manowar quality.

Of course Korea, which, at the time, wasn't even called 'Korea' (there were many kingdoms in Korea, like Kokuli, Silla and Pakche), was to have an everlasting bad relation with Japan, so the truth about what Japan was like before the year 749 is thereby can be dug in-between the Japanese myth and the Korean disdain.



Ruler of Japan according to a Korean history book looks like Fred Flintstone's colleague of Bedrock.

The first ruler of Japan ('Wa') mentioned by name but, alas, not by year at all, is 'Queen Pimiku'.

That's the Korean dialect; the real Japanese word is most likely to be 'Himiko' -- which means nothing but 'Princess'.


The name 'Wa' to call Japan with came from the same Chinese syllable that the Japanese pronounce 'Yamato'.

The latter means, ironically enough in this era of hatcheting and beheading, 'peace'.

That's how the Japanese referred to their country those days, as 'The Land of Peace'.

And at the left is how Himiko of the yearless 'Wa' looked like, according to the imagination of some unnamed but apparently authoritative staffers of the Japanese National Museum.

The fashion is a hybrid of the Japanese's own Heian era (click the name for pictures) and what the Ainu people used to don (click here for that). The headband, though, is Korean and Chinese.

Himiko, according to the Koreans, was 60 years old or so, a celibate, and a sorcerer. But the Japanese chieftains somewhat liked her, so the country was more or less okay under her rule.


This Land of Peace, which location was between today's Nara and Osaka, had their own language from the beginning, which was not much different from today's Japanese.

But, whenever came the time to write something, the Japanese had to get a bit nicer to whichever Korean immigrant around, because they had no alphabet.

So they used Chinese characters in this prolific snail-mail era, via these Koreans, who, as far as I know, could have just scribbled jokes down when told to write about trade -- because the Japanese, no matter what they said, couldn't read it.

See the Misleading Myth About Samurai & Calligraphy at another page.


Yamato area (Kashiwara)

Yamato in 2005


Year 70 : Emperor Suinin got the 'sacred mirror, jewel and sword' from a god, or alternately from a Korean nobleperson sailing there.

'Mirror', those days, meant a burnt metal disk polished rigorously until you can see a very faint reflection of your face and a very vivid setting of horror movies on the surface.

'Jewel' meant the thing that the Japanese call 'magatama', i.e. boomerang-shaped semi-precious or worthless stones (from the likes of opal and garnet to soapstones), perforated near one edge, tied to some wisteria vine (click here if you have no idea what wisteria is), and worn around the neck. These 'jewels' were as large as the ones worn by my mom's generation when the 'Flower Generation' and the flocks of 'hippies' boomed last century.


3 imperial treasures of Japan  

'Sword' was of course sword, but it didn't look like today's Japanese katana. The handle was elaborately decorated, and both sides of the blade were sharp. This kind of sword, worn by the samurai until 9th century, is called 'tachi'. (Click here for explanations and pictures of Japanese swords, including the etiquette and so forth.)

These three objects are always the Shintoist basis of the imperial legitimacy (supposedly representing the sun, the moon, and thunder). The Goddess of the Sun gave them all to Emperor Jimmu, they said, when Heaven divorced this sorry little planet Earth. Before 660 BCE, there was a bridge connecting the two, though the traffic was rather one-way.


As about why a Korean got to be elevated into divinity there, it was because of the snail-mail thing -- namely, Korea had been much more advanced in the so-called civilization those days compared to the Japanese. This was the fruit of their submission to the Chinese Empire. While Japan was still governed by shouting and bludgeoning, Korea already had bureaucratic kingdoms and written laws.


Chinese officials at this time in history
Chinese officials at this time in history.
  Korean tower from Silla's time
Korean tower built in Silla's time is still standing there today.

Remains of the Korean kingdom of Silla
Korean kingdom Silla's burial mounds in 2005.
The kingdom was alive between 57 BCE and 935.
  Korean traditional house
Even today in Andong you can see traces of some
ancient architecture, kept and copied for your (tourists') sake..
Korean Grand Gate
Korean Gate, 2003
  Korean Grand Palace
Korean Grand Palace in 2005

Click here for larger pictures of Korea, and see how different it is from Japan


71 - 130 : Emperor Keiko spent his entire time in office subduing unrelenting tribes of Kyushu, which some historians say were originally Malayans ('Malay' is the dominant ethnicity of Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore). He also had to go to war regularly against the natives of the Japanese isles, the Ainu people.


201 : Most famous Empress Jingu Kogo -- néé Okinaga Tarashi -- ascended because her Emperor Chuai unexpectedly died while they were preparing invasion of Korea.

Empress Jingu matters in the history of Japan not because it placates 20th century feminists, but because coveting Korea would be a routine imperial dream of the Japanese until 20th century.


Jingu Jingu

Empress Jingu according to the Japanese, that naturally put her into some 'modern' armory which in reality had not yet invented in Jingu's lifetime. Click here for history & pictures of Japanese armors.

Even the war-horse was not yet imported, to be exact. Click here if you have no idea what I'm talking about.


203 : Empress Jingu invaded Korea and won it, said ancient Japanese. Or she dispatched some naval raiders to the nearest coastal town of Korea and brought back some loot, said 21st century caucasians.

Whichever was the case, the fixed idea to make Korea a part of Japan would always get legitimized by this year's exploits.


Ojin   Hachiman   Wani
Ojin when was still himself looked like a god of war. Hachiman, i.e. Ojin when deified as the God of War, didn't look like one. Wani, a Korean expat, wrote a lot about Japan in 404.



313 : Empress Jingu's son Ojin, the most warlike Emperor after Jimmu, died this year, and Emperor Nintoku instantly made him the God of War by Shintoism, given a new name of 'Hachiman'. He was elevated so high into divinity because all his relatively short life was spent eliminating the Ainu warriors in some unprecedented scale.

The life of Hachiman marked the start of samuraihood, since it was only in his era that the Japanese warriors started to believe in their own collective talent in wars, having Hachiman to demonstrate how much more sophisticated they were in the art of killing if compared to the Ainus who, until they met Hachiman, had been rather superior in this game.

Hundreds of years later, Hachiman would be appropriated by the Minamoto clan of Kamakura as their very own god. (Just in case you haven't noticed, samurai clans had their own gods. Click here for the procedure of this biz of deifying ancestors or alternately claiming anscestry from already existing gods.)

Besides leaving this major legacy to japankind, the same Emperor Nintoku would also leave something of his own to posterity: the awesome burial site like in the picture below, which surely has been transmitting a favorable impression about our species in the minds of aliens out there, reminding them of what they did to the cornfields of Nebraska.


Emperor Nintoku's burial mound site

Emperor Nintoku
Emperor Nintoku
(this is a sculpture made in Kyoto)

At the left: Emperor Nintoku's burial site
(he reigned until 399).

400 : Emperor Richiu ascended. Start of direct official bilateral diplomatic and trade relation with China, not via Korea anymore. Some insist that it happened in the year 378, but no proof of that.

It was not a good relation anyway. The Chinese, which always saw themselves as the world, routinely treated the Japanese as a much inferior race, while the high-strung Japanese of the time sneered at any hint that they be vassals of the Chinese Emperors.

But the Chinese attitude did something good, too. It consolidated the tribal consciousness of the homogeneity of Japan, which would develop itself steadily into some degree of cohesiveness which no other Asian nation ever came to.

However, this good side-effect of the Chinese arrogance would eventually gave birth to, lamentably, fascism.


406 : Among the tribe-like peoples of Japan, several clans rose up, and this year marked the first division of labor among the Emperor's milieu -- half of which would be sedentary, and the other half burly.

The Nakatomi and Imibe both specialized in heavenward gaze, so they were employed by Emperor Hanzo as Shinto priests and such, and dominating the Imperial Court. These clans were the first of the species which would be known as 'courtiers', i.e. noblepersons whose job was to roam around the Palace, but whose chance to get in line for the job of emperor-ing Japan was nix.

The Otomo, Kumebe, and Mononobe clans were warlike, so they were the prototype of the warlord clans.

Btw, those names were initially jobs, not people's names. Clan names ending with '_be' from this point of time were usually born not as people's namesake but as workers' unions, such as Ayabe, Oribe, Hasebe, etc.

  Mononobe Moriya
Mononobe Moriya


415 : Emperor Hanzo released an Imperial Edict about regulations of clan names, because people craving awesome names had been appropriating such names without caring a fig about the legitimate owners of the names. That was a sordid affair that would plague every administration since.

These, btw, were the years when the Otomo clan became entirely a warrior clan and the most often called up by the Emperors to quench unprisings. In other words, the Otomo Chief of clan was the first Shogun.

(See the 'Shoguns for Dummies' page for the mechanism of power at this time, and what the title 'Shogun' really means).


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660 BCE - 500 501 - 800 801 - 1226 1227 - 1500 1501 - 1700 1701 - 1926 1927 - TODAY



Map of the Mikado's Empire, 1534 - 1868
(All Japanese Warlords, Provinces, Towns, and Territorial Units)

Oda Nobunaga's & Toyotomi Hideyoshi's Maps, 1534 - 1599

Tokugawa Ieyasu's Map, circa 1600



The Birth of Japanese Warlords

Where Warlords Are in the Japanese Society

What You'd Need to Be a Japanese Warlord

How to Do War in Feudal Japan

History, Pictures & Profiles of Japanese Christian Warlords

Complete Accounts & Pictures of the Wars to Unite Japan

Everything About Oda Nobunaga, 1534-1582

Everything About Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 1536-1599

What Overlords Are



The Birth of the Tokugawa Clan & Shogunate

Biography of Tokugawa Ieyasu, 1543-1616

Status of Civilians in the Tokugawa Shogunate

Architecture & Real Life of the Tokugawa World

The Extravagant Tokugawa Mausoleum

Real Ninja Hangouts

Tokugawa's Most Famous Samurai

Tokugawa's Legendary Enemies

Tokugawa's Bushido



The Meiji Warlords versus Tokugawa Warlords

Chronology of Meiji versus Tokugawa War

Meiji & Tokugawa Streetwise Assassins

What 'Meiji Restoration' Means in Architecture and Clothing

Pictorial Glances at the Meiji Era

Big Pictures of Meiji Architecture



The Correct Meaning of Samuraihood

The Birth of Bushido & What It Actually All About

Origins of Bushido

History of Japanese Armors

History of Japanese Coats of Arms
(Samurai Clans' Crests)

20th-century Bushido & Mishima Yukio

The Shield Society

Zen, Samurai Buddhism



The Myth of Samurai's Relation With Calligraphy

The Truest Samurai Heroes According to Bushido

Samurai Clans' Temples & Shrines

3 Most-Famous Samurai Concubines

Origins of Little-Known Facts & Samurai Trivia

Japanese Self-Defense Forces (Jieitai)



History and Variety of Japanese Clothes

History and Variety of Japanese Dolls & Origami

History of Japanese Architecture

History of Japanese Calendar, Tea Ceremony & Boys' Carp Streamer Festival

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History of Japanese Carpentry

Japanese Kites in Social Rites

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What Is Not Buddhist, Not Shinto, Not Confucian, Not Christian, But Priestly in Japan?

History of Samurai Flowers

Hatsutatsuneko, Taiguruma ('Samurai Cats', Sea Bream Charms & Festivals)

Weird Facts About Japan : Whale Cuisine, Fighter Dogs, God of Abortion, Dog Shrine, Fox Shrine, Monkey Shrine, 'Japlish'/'Engrish', etc.

Japanese Actors

How To Make Shinto Ropes (Shimenawa) & What For

Ghost That Taught How to Make Mochi Cakes

Only in Japan: What to Do With Casuarina Leaves

Chinese Cat of Luck

Inari, Kitsune, Tanuki


History of Japanese Calligraphy

History of Japanese Buddhist Sects

History of Japanese Amulets & Charms

History of the Heian Era, Japanese 'Golden Age'

History of What You Think Are Japanese 'Toys'

History & the Constantly-Mistaken Facts About Geisha

Japanese Names & Their Meanings

Japanese Katakana Script & Foreign Names

History of Japanese Comics & Animation Movies

Japanese 'Underground Christians' Artefacts

Oda Nobunaga's Artefacts

Moxa, Miko, Inushishi, Hatobue, Keshobako (Japanese 'Cureitall', Shrine Maidens, Ronins' Amulet, Shinto Whistle, Sea Goddess' Box)

History of Japanese Female Variety Show Performers (Shirabyoshi)

History of Ikebana (Flower Arrangement), Tanabata (Day of Verses), Bonsai

The 'Father of All Samurai Movies'

Best Japanese Movies

How to Fish in Gifu (You Wouldn't Have Guessed How)

Hukusuke: Samurai Charm for Money

How to Drink Flowers (Literally)

Temple of Women's Panties

Complete History of Japanese Geisha

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Nina Wilhelmina

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