A Chronology of Japanese History

Yamato Period (300-550) & Asuka Period (550-710)
Nara Period (710-794)
Heian Period (794-1185)
Kamakura Period (1185-1333)
Muromachi Period (1338-1573)
Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1568-1600)
1568 Oda Nobunaga occupies Kyôto and installs Ashikaga Yoshiaki as the fifteenth, and last, Ashikaga Shôgun
1569 In Kyôto, Nobunaga issues regulations governing currency, exchange, and barter regulations in an attempt to imrove civil administration.
Spring 1569 After a meeting with Nobunaga and Yoshiaki in Kyôto, Jesuit missionaries are allowed back in the capital to preach.
(By 1582, the estimated number of Christian converts in Japan was about 150,000, with about 200 churches.)
Late 1569 Nobunaga defeats and subjugates Ise Province.
1570-1573 Genki Era.
May 1570 Nobunaga leaves Kyôto to fight Asakura in Echizen. Asai (even though married to Nobunaga's younger sister) betrays Nobunaga and sides with Asakura. Nobunaga and his men escape and successfully retreat to the capital.
July 1570 Nobunaga, with the help of reinforcements and an army led by Tokugawa Ieyasu from the East, defeats forces led by Asai (of Ômi) and Asakura (of Echizen) in the north of Ômi Province.
November 1570 Nobunaga troops attack Ishiyama Honganji in Ôsaka but are completely defeated by troops led, for the most part, by the Ikkô sect.
October 1571 Nobunaga destroys the Enryakuji manastery complex on Mt. Hiei, burning down 3,000 buildings and killing over 1,600 monks.
Late 1571 Nobunaga completes construction of a new Imperial Palace. He also begins the first cadastral survey in selected provinces.
Nobunaga forces attack Ikkô believers in Owari Province but are defeated.
November 1572 Takeda Shingen of Kai Province begins a march towards Kyôto to attack Nobunaga.
January 1573 Nobunaga and Tokugawa battle Takeda forces in Tôtômi Province. Tokugawa Ieyasu barely escapes alive and Nobunaga arranges a diplomatic solution and truce. Yoshiaki sides with Takeda against Nobunaga.
1573-1592 Tensho Era
1573 Nobunaga forces attack Ikkô believers in Owari Province but are defeated again.
March 1573 Nobunaga ousts Yoshiaki from the Shôgunate. He flees to exile on Shikoku and then unsuccessfully wanders the country looking for support until his death in 1597. This is the end of the Ashikaga Shôgunate and no one holds the title again until 1603.
August 1573 Nobunaga troops fight one last battle with Asakura in Echizen and Asai in Ômi. Asai and Asakura lose and commit suicide. Nobunaga gives Asai's lands to Hideyoshi (who builds a castle at Nagahama, Ômi Province) and the remainder of the land to others.
1574 Nobunaga issues orders and regulations regarding the construction and repair of roads in all of the provinces he controls. He also abolishes the barriers on roads in these provinces.
Early 1573 Nobunaga forces attack Ikkô believers in Owari Province but are defeated again.
Summer 1574 Nobunaga defeats Ikkô sect followers and their supporters in a protracted seige of their strongholds at Nagashima. He accomplishes this by by offering peace and then massacring 40,000 believers when they accept.
1575 Nobunaga's inner circle is now restricted to 10 generals: Hideyoshi, Takigawa Kazumasu, Akechi Mitsuhide, Niwa Nagahide, Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, Sakuma Nobumori, Ikeda Tsuneoki, and Môri Nagayoshi.
June 1575 Nobunaga and Ieyasu defeat Takeda forces at Nagashino in Mikawa Province.
June 1575 Nobunaga defeats the Ikkô sect in Echizen and Kaga Provinces- and massacres another 40,000 believers.
August 1575 Môri ships resupply Ishiyama Honganji in Ôsaka via the inland sea. Nobunaga ships (he has a navy of about 300 ships) try to block it but are defeated in a short battle.
Fall 1575 Hideyoshi and Akechi Mitsuhide commence driving to the west and north to subdue the Môri family (Hideyoshi along the Sanyôdô and Akechi along the Sanindô). They meet very stiff resistance and this isn't accomplished in Nobunaga's lifetime.
Early 1576 Nobunaga commences building a castle on Azuchiyama on eastern bank of Lake Biwa in Ômi Province (completed in 1579). He also commences the process of disarming peasants in selected territories.
June 1576 Nobunaga attacks Ishiyama Honganji in Ôsaka with a small number of troops but is completely defeated and withdraws after being slightly wounded.
1577 Nobunaga receives the title of Minister of the Right (Udaijin) from the emperor.
March 1577 Nobunaga troops attack and defeat Ikkô troops and supporters in Kii Province, thus cutting off supply routes to Ishiyama Honganji.
1578 Nobunaga supporters start expanding to lands West of Kyôto. Nobunaga resigns all court offices and titles and transfers them to his heirs.
1579 Nobunaga moves to Azuchi castle.
April 1580 With no supplies, no relief in sight, and having received a letter from the emperor advising them to do so, Ishiyama Honganji surrenders to Nobunaga. This ends the power of the Ikkô sect. but many believers flee to Saginomori in Kii Province.
1582 Nobunaga forces make a last attempt to eliminate the Ikkô believers in Saginomori, but the campaign is never completed because of Nobunaga's death.
April 1582 Nobunaga, Ieyasu, and Hôjô attack Takeda Katsuyori in the east (in Kai Province). Takeda is killed and the family comes to an end. Hideyoshi attempts to take Takamatsu castle in the west (in Bitchû Province). As the castle defenses weaken, the Môri family sends reinforcements from the west. Hideyoshi sends word to Nobunaga asking for help.
Late June 1582 Nobunaga sends his armies west to reinforce Hideyoshi at Takamatsu.
Nobunaga is assassinated by Akechi Mitsuhide at Honnôji while heading to Takamatsu himself (he was 49 years old). Nobutada, Nobunaga's eldest son and heir is also assassinated at Nijô palace in Kyôto.
(By this time, Nobunaga controlled land in 20 of Japan's 66 provinces)
Late June 1582 Hideyoshi negotiates a compromise settlement with the Môri at Takamatsu and then returns to Kyôto to defeat, and kill, Akechi.
July 1582 At Hideyoshi's insistence, Sambôshi, Nobunaga's three-year old grandson (later called Oda Hidenobu) is appointed heir under the guardianship of four generals. Joint authority over Kyôto is given to Hideyoshi, Niwa Nagahide, Ikeda Tsuneoki, and Shibata Katsuie but Hideyoshi, alone, actually governed.
Late 1582 Hideyoshi receives a minor court title from the emperor. He also orders the beginning of land surveys in provinces throughout the country. These continue through the year 1598.
May 1583 Hideyoshi defeats Shibata Katsuie (who had now turned against him) at the battle of Shizugatake in Echizen.
Fall 1583 Hideyoshi begins reconstruction of Ôsaka Castle (site of the fallen Ishiyama Honganji fortress) for use as his headquarters. He also announces a policy of destroying all castles and fortresses in the country except those of the major daimyô who support him. In addition, he stations his generals in areas outside of their home provinces and where they have no traditional authority.
1584 Hideyoshi takes the provinces of Kaga, Noto, and Etchû. He also fights two battles with Tokugawa Ieyasu in Owari. Nobutaka (Nobunaga's third son) is confined to a monastery in Owari Province after supporting Hideyoshi opponents and he commits suicide while there.
(Hideyoshi now controls 30 provinces)
1584 A Spanish trading ship, blown off course in a storm, enters Hirado. Because he is jealous of Nagasaki's monopoly with Protuguese traders and he dislikes the Jesuits, Matsuura, the daimyô there, welcomes it and agrees to receive other Spanish traders and non-Jesuit missionaries in Hirado if they wish to come.
Early 1585 Hideyoshi comes to terms with Ieyasu and fighting between them stops. Ieyasu retires to Mikawa Province in the east. This makes Hideyoshi the overall power in the country and the leader of most of the country.
1585 Hideyoshi commences unification of the Shikoku daimyô and defeats the Chôsôkabe house. He also subdues Kii and Izumi Provinces. Emperor Ôgimachi resigns and Go-Yozei becomes the new (and 107th) emperor.
1585 Hideyoshi assumes title of Kampaku (used to designate the regent of an adult emperor) and is given the surname of Toyotomi. Copper, silver, and gold coins begin to be officially minted.
1585 Hideyoshi subjugates the priests and sects at Negoro, on Shikoku, as well as at Kumano, Mt. Kôya, and Tônomine.
According to Sansom, "His method was simple and effective, for by the mere threat of force, by confiscatng weapons in his Sword Hunt and by impounding Kôyasan revenues in the course of his land survey, he frightened the monks into submission and then gained their esteem by returning their estates."
1586 Hideyoshi assumes the title of Chancellor.
February 1587 Hideyoshi calls on supporters around the country and commences unification of the Kyûshû daimyô. His main concern is the defeat of the Shimazu of Satsuma.
July 1587 Satsuma surrenders to Hiyeoshi and pledges to support him. In return, Hideyoshi allows them to keep their lands (in contrast to Nobunaga who would have killed them all and taken their lands). Hideyoshi now controls all of Kyûshû.
July 1587 After returning from Kyûshû, Hideyoshi issues an order officially banning Christianity and expelling Jesuit missionaries from the country (although the order was not energetically enforced until 1597). Hideyoshi moves from Ôsaka to Jûrakudai, his newly completed palace in Kyôto.
1588 Swords are confiscated from all non-samurai.
Early 1590 Ieyasu (from his base in Mikawa) attempts to talk the Hôjô into submitting to Hideyoshi but is unsuccessful.
April 1590 Hideyoshi begins a siege of the Hôjô in Odawara. His troops begin to defeat and take the minor castles in land controlled by the Hôjô.
August 1590 Odawara unconditionally surrenders to Hideyoshi. With the exception of the far north (Matsu and Dewa Provinces) unification of Japan is now virtualy complete. Tokugawa Ieyasu becomes the lord of the Kantô region, based in Edo.
The social structure is frozen into the classes of samurai, peasant, & merchant. Class mobility and change of status are prohibited.
1590 Statistical Interlude:
Population: According to Ikegami Eiko in The Taming Of The Samurai, "Miyamoto Matarô estimates that the population of Japan may have started from 12 million in 1600..." In addition, "Prior to the close of the Warring States period, ... Kyôto was the only large city in Japan with a population in excess of 100,000 at one point; 100 major castle cities were not yet in existence before the late-sixteenth century." In particular, the city of Edo "... claimed a polulation of only a few thousand citizens in 1590 when Tokugawa Ieyasu first became the lord of the region."
Late 1590 Hideyoshi orders the a national census to be taken. After they begin to appear in the census figures, Hideyoshi orders the expulsion of all rônin from towns and villages in which they did no farm work or military service. He even orders that all people who entered a village from another village or province after the fall of Odawara were to be expelled from the village.
Late 1591 Hideyoshi orders that all military personnel, of whatever rank, who entered a village from another village or province after the fall of Odawara were also to be expelled from that village.
1591 Hideyoshi appoints his eldest nephew (Hidetsugu) as heir, establishes him at Jûrakudai, gives him the title of Kampaku (although Hideyoshi continues to rule), and then takes the title of Taikô for himself.
1591 Hideyoshi briefly exiles Sen no Rikyu to Sakai. He is soon called back to Kyôto and ordered to commit suicide. Hideyoshi sends a letter to the governor of the Phillipines telling them to submit and pay tribute or he would attack when he finished attacking Korea and China.
1592-1596 Bunroku Era
Late April 1592 200,000 Japanese troops invade Korea with plans to continue on to China. Hideyoshi directs the invasion from a headquarters he sets up in Hizen Province on Kyûshû. Seoul is occupied by mid June.
July 1592 Japanese troops take P'yongyang but stop and wait for orders to enter China. However, Korean resistance is getting much stronger and the Korean navy is defeating the Japanese navy on numerous occasions.
February 1593 Japanese troops are driven out of P'yongyang and back to Seoul by Chinese and Korean forces.
May 1593 Franciscan missionaries enter Japan and begin to build churches and proselytize in Kyôto and Ôsaka.
September 1593 Hideyori (Hideyoshi's second and last son) is born to his mistress Yodogimi in Ôsaka. Hideyoshi has not been satisfied with Hidetsugu as he was brutal by nature and had been leading a disreputable life in Kyôto while Hideyoshi was in Kyûshû.
May 1593 A truce is negotiated and most of the Japanese troops return home. However, fortifications are left in four southeast Korean provinces.
August 1595 Hidetsugu is ordered into exile on Kôyasan and then ordered to commit suicide. Shortly thereafter, Hidetsugu's entire family is executed and Jûrakudai is destroyed. Hideyori is named as Hideyoshi's heir.
1596-1615 Keicho Era.
1596 Tokugawa, Maeda, Môri, and other generals are called to Kyôto and made to swear allegiance to Hideyori. Hideyori, at the age of three, is installed as Kampaku (Regent).
December 1596 When ambassadors from China arrive to invest Hideyoshi with the title King of Japan and to give him royal robes and a crown (all part of the signed truce in Korea), Hideyoshi gets angry at the tone of the letter from the Chinese Emperor and threatens to attack China. (Many say that this irrational threat shows Hideyoshi's mental unstability in his last years.)
January 1597 Franciscan missionaries and numerous followers are tortured and crucified. The Jesuits seem to have recovered some of their status with Hideyoshi at the same time, although technically associating with christians was still banned.
March 1597 Korean campaign resumes with another attack by Japanese troops, although they never accomplish more than fighting defensive battles in the southern part of the country.
In Japan, the first Christians and Japanese converts are crucified and/or executed.
(Total lands throughout Japan now assessed at 18.5 million koku)
October 1597 Hideyoshi issues an order to expell all christians from the country. (He allows a few to remain to serve the small Portuguese community in Nagasaki.) The vast majority of missionaries go into hiding and never leave. There are an estimated 300,000 converts in the country by this time.
1598 The first extant work printed by Japanese from movable type. It is a copy of the Confucian Analects printed on the orders of Emperor Go-Yôzei.
August 1598 Seeing that he was dying, Hideyoshi calls the five greatest daimyô (Tokugawa, Maeda, Môri, Uesugi, and Ukita) together and make them sign an oath to support Hideyori (then 6 years old). Ieyasu is appointed as Hideyori's guardian until he comes of age and can rule on his own.
September 1598 Hideyoshi dies at the age of sixty-three. Hideyori is now 5 years old.
October 1598 A truce is reached between the Chinese/Koreans and the Japanese and Japanese troops withdraw from Korea.
Early 1599 Charges are brought against Ieyasu that he is arranging marriages for political ends, contrary to his pledge to support Hideyori. War is averted when the charges are retracted. An unsuccessful assassination attempt, prompted by Ishida Mitsunari, is made on Ieyasu as he goes to Ôsaka castle with Hideyori.
Summer 1599 Another unsuccessful assassination attempt is made against Ieyasu by Ishida Mitsunari. Mistunari is sent back to his home province of Sawayama (Hikone) but escapes further punishment. Ieyasu moves to Ôsaka castle and appoints his son Hideyoshi as warden of Fushimi castle. He also appoints his other son, Toshinaga, to the Council of Regency to replace Maeda Toshiie, who had just died.
May 1600 Uesugi Kagekatsu begins preparations to attack Ieyasu from his fief in Aizu, to which he had recently retired. Learning of this, Ieyasu begins planning an attack himself.
Late July 1600 Ieyasu leaves Ôsaka with an army to attack Uesugi. He leisurely marches his troops to Edo, arriving in mid-August.
Early September 1600 Ishida Mitsunari, seeing that Ieyasu has left the Ôsaka area, brings an army and takes Fushimi palace. He thens begins a march towards Edo with the intention of confronting Ieyasu.
Late September 1600 Convinced that other allies were controlling the Uesugi army in Aizu, Ieyasu orders his troops and other allies to head west in order to meet Ishida Mitsunari and his supporters in Mino Province.
Late October 1600 Ieyasu defeats his opponents at the battle of Sekigahara. He now controls virtually all of Japan, but publicly swears loyalty to Hideyori, who remains in Ôsaka Castle.
Edo Period (1603-1868)
Meiji Period (1868-1912)
Taishô Period (1912-1926)
Shôwa Period (1926-1989)
Heisei Period (1989-Present)

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