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)
(Nambokuchō Period: 1331-1392)
Late 1336 Ashikaga Takauji assumes title of Go-Dainagon (Acting Grand Counsellor) and begins as ruler of the country. His bakufu releases the Kemmu Shikimoku but it has little substance and makes no changes to the older Jōei Shikimoku of 1232.
January 1337 Go-Daigo escapes confinement and flees to Yoshino with his court followers. He (of the Junior line) becomes the Southern Dynasty while Kōmyō (of the Senior line) remains in Kyōto as the Northern Dynasty.
1337-1338 Continuous fighting around the country between forces loyal to Go-Daigo and those loyal to Takauji, with the Imperial loyalists often winning major victories.
1338 Takauji assumes the title of Shōgun. He shares administrative duties with his younger brother, Tadayoshi. Takauji held supreme military power and issued certificates of reward and appointed the shugo. Tadayoshi made the day-to-day civil, judicial, and economic decisions such as confirming land rights, making judicial rulings, issuing customs-barrier permits, and issuing regulatory codes for monasteries.
August 1338 Nitta Yoshisada is killed in battle.
October 1338 Prince Norinaga is named Crown Prince (of the Junior line).
1339-1340 Continued fighting througout the country between Loyalist troops and those supporting the Ashikaga Bakufu. Bakufu supporters finally defeat the loyalists in the northern provinces. Fighting shifts to the south.
September 19, 1339 Go-Daigo dies at the age of fifty-two. Norinaga is enthroned as Emperor Go-Murakami of the Southern Court at twelve years of age.
1340-1346 Kōkoku Era
1341-1348 Continued fighting throughout the country, but mainly in Kyūshū.
1342 To earn money abroad for the completion of Tenryūji, Takauji reopens trade with China. While Takauji is given credit, Tadayoshi was probably the driving force behind the construction of Tenryūji and and all other religious matters. (Trade will later be temporarily suspended again by Yoshimochi, but then revived by Yoshinori and then sporadically continue until the mid-sixteenth century)
1346-1370 Shōhei Era
1349-1350 With serious loyalist victories on Kyūshū, fighting begins to heat up in the Home Provinces around the capital. By this time, as a result of victories and defeats on both sides, the Southern and Northern courts are now essentially equal and people begin again to talk of uniting them through negotiations.
Early 1350 After serious infighting between himself and the Kō brothers (Moronao and Moroyasu), Tadayoshi is relieved of all duties and replaced by Takauji's son, Yoshiakira. Tadayoshi becomes a monk and enters a monestary.
November 1350 Tadayoshi leaves the monestary and goes to Yamato. Kō Moronao calls on Takauji to dispose of him, but he is not pursued.
January 1351 Emperor Sukō (of the Senior line) is enthroned as the emperor of the Northern Court. Tadayoshi swears allegiance to the Southern Court, calls for the destruction of the Kō brothers, and calls for the recapture of Kyōto.
March 1351 Kō Moronao and Moroyasu taken prisoner and killed in fighting around the capital. Tadayoshi returns to Kyōto and reassumes his administrative positions with Yoshiakira as his superior. However, he and Takauji continue to quarrel.
April-June 1351 Tadayoshi continues to try and reconcile the Northern Courts, but nothing can be worked out.
August 1351 Tadayoshi, fearing for his life, and distrusting Takauji and Yoshiakira, flees to Etchū Province. Some battles take place between supporters of the two sides, but nothing serious.
October 1351 Takauji and Tadayoshi come to terms but fighting continues between some of their respective supporters. Tadayoshi goes to Kamakura where he takes up administrative affairs.
November 1351 Takauji and Yoshiakira submit themselves to the Southern Court in an attempt to reunite the two courts. Emperor Sukō and his Crown Prince are 'retired.' By the end of the year the Imperial Regalia are handed over to the Junior Line. Takauji commissioned to punish Tadayoshi.
January 1352 Takauji take troops northeast to confront Tadayoshi. Tadayoshi is captured and taken to Kamakura.
March 1352 Tadayoshi is poisoned and dies while in confinement in Kamakura.
April 1352 The Southern Court now sees an opportunity to retake control of the country. They attack and drive Takauji from Kamakura and retake the offensive in the north. They also drive Yoshiakira from Kyōto (to Enryakuji), retake the capital, and send the Northern Emperor, retired Emperors, and Crown Prince to Anau as captives.
June 1352 Yoshiakira and supporters retake the capital and drive Go-Murakami and his supporters back to Yamato. Fighting continues throughout the country with supporters of the Southern Court now in control of the majority of Western Japan.
September 25, 1352 Iyahita, a fourteen-year old younger brother of Crown Prince Tadahito, is named as successor to Sukō and enthroned as Go-Kōgon, the Northern Court Emperor. But, since the regalia were in the position of the Junior line, many considered this enthronement invalid.
July 1353 Supporters of the Souther Court retake Kyōto and drive Yoshiakira out of the city.
July 1353 For safety reasons, Yoshiakira escoorts Go-Kōgon from Enryakuji to Tarui in Mino Province and establishes the Northern Court there.
August 24, 1353 Ahikaga forces once again retake Kyōto and drive the loyalists out.
October 11, 1353 Takauji goes to Tarui, from Kamakura, to pay respect to Go-Kōgon. Yoshiakira joins them a few days later.
October 18, 1353 Takauji and Yoshiakira escort Go-Kōgon back into Kyōto.
March 1354 Loyalist forces subdued in Kyūshū by Shimizu clan.
January 1355 Loyalists are once again defeating the bakufu forces. Yoshiakira is on the run in the central provinces and Takauji, with Go-Kōgon on tow, flees to ōmi Province as the loyalists retake the capital.
March 1355 Takauji, Yoshiakira, and their supporters begin battles to retake the capital.
April 1355 Bakufu retakes Kyōto and Go-Kōgon is escorted back into the city. For whatever reason, this defeat crushes the loyalist troop's morale and the opposition of the Southern Court comes to an end - although localized fighting continues around the country. Takauji begins the process of consolidating the bakufu administration in Kyōto.
1355 Of interest regarding Kyōto at this time, this is from George Sansom's History of Japan:
"...nearly all the royal palaces, the mansions of the nobility, and the offices of the ministers of state were destroyed by fire, only two or three buildings in ten having escaped. In some parts of the city there were wide areas in which no houses were left standing, only the barracks of the soldiery. On the outskirts of the city grass had grown over the ruins and all that could be seen was the bleached bones of the victims."
June 8, 1358 Takauji dies in Kyōto at the age of fifty-four from a malignant tumor.
(Can we say that his counterpart, as visonary and leader, on the Southern Court side was Kitabatake Chikafusa?)
Late 1358 Yoshiakira named as second Ashikaga Shōgun.
Early 1362 Loyalist forces advance on Kyōto once again. Yoshiakira abandons the city with Go-Kōgon in hand. Loyalist forces take the city without a fight. However, twenty days later, Yoshiakira retakes the city, again without a fight.
January 1368 Yoshiakira dies and is succeeded by his nine-year old son, Yoshimitsu, as the third shōgun. The bakufu is managed by Hosokawa Yoriyuki until 1379 and, for the first time since the Hōjō, law is enforced and maintained by a central government.
1368 Go-Murakami dies in Settsu Province. His son, Chōkei, succeeds him as Emperor of the Southern Court and Junior Line.
1369 The Ming government in China sends its first of several diplomatic missions to Japan, but they are turned back at the port in Kyūshū.
1370-1372 Kentoku Era
1371 Go-Enyū becomes Emperor of the Northern Court.
August 1371 Bakufu forces begin campaign against Kyūshū, the last stronghold of loyalist forces.
1372-1375 Bunchū Era
1375-1381 Tenju Era
1378 Yoshimitsu builds a residence called Hana no Gosho (the Palace of Flowers) in the Muromachi district of Kyōto.
1379 Yoriyuki resigns from post as Kanrei (Deputy Shōgun) after being severly criticized by several leading warriors.
1381-1384 Kōwa Era
1383 Go-Kameyama is enthroned as Emperor of the Southern Court.
1383 Go-Enyū abdicates. His six year old son is enthroned as Go-Komatsu of the Northern Court. By this year, loyalist forces have been all but defeated and any hope of success on their part now looks hopeless.
1384-1390 Genchū Era
1386 After several years of uneasy relations, China refuses to receive a Japanese diplomatic envoy because of continued Japanese pirate activities. Relations come to a halt.
1390-1394 Meitoku Era
1391 Yoriyuki returns to Kyōto and resumes duties as Kanrei.
Early 1392 Bakufu approaches Southern Court with proposal to end fighting and reunite the two Courts.
December 1392 Agreement is reached and the Northern and Southern Dynasties are reunited (actually, you could say that the Southern Court simply ceases to exist). The Imperial Regalia is returned to the Northern Court, Go-Kameyama gives up any claim to the throne and Go-Komatsu becomes the sole emperor. However, the agreement stipulates that future successions will alternate between the Junior and Senior lines.
1394-1428 ōei Era
Late 1394 Yoshimitsu, at the height of his career and powers, retires and enters the religious life (although he holds on to power). His nine year old son, Yoshimochi, assume the title of Shōgun.
1398 Yoshimitsu builds his retirement retreat at Kinkakuji.
1401 Yoshimitsu sends a diplomatic mission to China pledging to stop pirate traders.
August 1402 A Chinese diplomatic mission comes to Japan and is met and entertained by Yoshimitsu himself. Yoshimitsu is given a crown and robes of state and investited as the "King of Japan" and a subject of the Ming Empire. Diplomatic relations between the two countries recontinues.
1404 Authorized ships begin official tally trade with China, but pirating continues.
Summer 1408 Yoshimitsu dies. He is succeeded by his son, Yoshimochi, as the fourth shōgun.
Late 1408 Chinese Emperor sends a diplomatic envoy to Japan to perform special rites for Yoshimitsu and then to name Yoshimochi as the new King of Japan.
1411 Yoshimochi refuses a Chinese envoy and breaks off official relations with the Chinese. Official relations were non-existant until 1434 although the Shimazu in Kyūshū probably continued privately trading. Yoshimochi refuses to agree to renewed relations although the Chinese year after year send requests and threats to do so.
1412 Go-Komatsu abdicates in favor of his son. This goes against the earlier pledges to Go-Kameyama that future successions would alternate between the Junior and Senior lines. Shōkō (of the Senior line) becomes emperor (but the coronation ceremony isn't until 1414).
1418 Yoshimochi has his brother, Yoshitsugu, assassinated - probably because Yoshitsugu had been his fathers absolute favorite and Yoshimochi had been, therefore, ignored as a youth.
1423 Yoshimochi enters the religious life and his fifteen year old son, Yoshikazu, becomes the fifth shōgun.
1425 Yoshikazu slowly, but continuously, drinks himself to death. Yoshimochi is forced to resume duties as Shōgun.
1428-1429 Shōchō Era
1428 Yoshimochi dies at the age of forty-two. Just before his death he tells the bakufu to choose his successor by drawing lots from among four sons of Yoshimitsu. They do and Yoshinori, the thirty-five year old, sixth son of Yoshimitsu, is selected as the sixth shōgun. He was at that time the Chief Abbot of the Tendai sect.
1429 Go-Hanazono becomes emperor.
1429-1441 Eikyō Era
1432 The new Ming Emperor sends a message to Yoshinori inviting him to send an envoy to China and to restart official relations. Yoshinori sends an official diplomatic mission and it is treated royally.
June 1434 An official Chinese envoy visits Japan and official trade between the two countries resumes. (Japanese export volume rose yearly until 1453, when it began to decline. By this time the Chinese were complaining about Japanese insistence on bringing goods for sale every time they came to China. Trading problems even back then?)
1441-1444 Kakitsu Era
Fall 1441 Yoshinori is assassinated by Akamatsu Mitsusjke, one of his chief retainers. The bakufu punishes Akamatsu by killing him and most of his kinsmen and taking their land. Yoshinori is replaced as Shōgun by his first son, Yoshikatsu.
1443 Yoshikatsu dies at the age of ten, and only a few months after the court officially appoints him as Shōgun. Yoshikatsu's younger brother (eight years old) is chosen to replace him and given the name Yoshishige.
1444-1449 Bunnan Era
1449-1452 Hōtoku Era
1449 Yoshishige is officially appointed by the court as the eighth shōgun and is renamed Yoshimasa. He has no interest in affairs of state and this, along with his wasteful extravagance, invites the disasters that come to the Shōgunate.
1452-1455 Kyōtoku Era
1455-1457 Kōshō Era
1457-1460 Chōroku Era
1460-1466 Kanshō Era
1464 Yoshimasa announces that he wants to resign from office. Hosokawa Katsumoto, as Kanrei, favors Yoshimasa's younger brother, Yoshimi, an abbot in a Jōdo monastery. Although Yoshimi didn't want the job and didn't want to leave the religious life, he is persuaded to join Yoshimasa and assist him until he suceeds the the Shōgunate.
1464 Go-Tsuchimikado becomes emperor, although the coronation ceremony isn't until the next year.
1465 Yoshimasa's wife, Tomiko, gives birth to a son, Yoshihisa. A succession dispute now breaks out with Yoshimasa, supported by Yoshimi and Hosokawa, on one side and Tomiko, supported by Yamana, on the other.
1466-1467 Bunshō Era
Late 1466 Yamana finally finds the reason he has been looking for (since long before the succession dispute) to challenge Hosokawa and the two sides raise armies.
1467-1469 ūnin Era
1467-1477 Ōnin War
Starts as a Shōgunal succession dispute and a dispute between the Hosokawa and Yamana houses (both major Shugo houses). It ends the Ashikaga hegemony, Kyōto is virtually destroyed, and the country ends up completely decentralized.
January 1467 Yamana complains to Yoshimasa that Hosokawa is interfering in a succession dispute in the Hatakeyama family and asks permission to punish him. This is denied. The two antagonists face off in Kyōto but hold a very tense peace.
May 1467 With both sides fighting the other outside the capital on a monthly basis, Hosokawa finally attacks Yamana troops in the capital at the end of the month. Fighting breaks out throughout the city.
1467-1568 Sengoku Jidai (Period of Warring States)
From the outbreak of the ōnin War to the time Oda Nobunaga takes control of Kyōtō. The imperial family and the Shōgun lose power, but retain their titles & positions, and a new Daimyō class rises to power in the provinces. The shōen system collapses and the domains are divided into fiefs controlled by the daimyō.
1469-1487 Bummei Era
Early 1469 With a political and military standoff now in place in the capital, Yoshimi ends up becoming one of Yamana's leading generals. Yoshimasa names Yoshihisa (now four years old) as his heir. The war that started between Hosokawa and Yamana now becomes one between Yoshimasa and his brother, Yoshimi.
1473 Both Yamana and Hosokawa die and the two opposing armies begin talking of finding a solution and end to the fighting. But the talking takes years as Yoshimasa and Yoshimi are still at odds.
1473 Yoshimasa retires to lead a quiet life as a lay priest, devoting his time to the arts and a cultural life. Yoshihisa becomes the ninth shōgun, but his power doesn't extend outside of his home province of Yamashiro.
December 1477 The last of the warriors finally disperse and leave Kyōto for their home provinces. Fighting continues, though, throughout the provinces between various families.
1485 A provincial uprising in Yamashiro drives out the shugo armies, leaving the province under the control of the government. The uprising is lead by peasants and petty warriors.
1487-1489 Chōkyō Era
1488 An Ikkō sect uprising drives the Shugo and his army out of Kaga Province, thus becoming the de facto rulers of the entire province. (They aren't driven out themselves until 1576)
1489 Yoshimasa begins construction of Ginkakuji. (It is completed in 1493, three years after his death)
1489-1492 Entoku Era
1490 Yoshimasa dies. Yoshihisa dies during a campaign against the Rokkaku house in Omi province. Yoshitane, Yoshimi's son, becomes the tenth shōgun but is a Hosokawa puppet.
1492-1501 Meiō Era
1493 Yoshitane is removed from office and exiled by Hosokawa Masamoto. Ashikaga Yoshizumi, a nephew of Yoshimasa, becomes the eleventh shōgun although he is 14 years old and a Hosokawa puppet.
circa 1500 The important picture here is not just the fighting for, against, and around the Shōgun, but the ongoing process of decentralization and redistribution of power throughout the country. By the year 1500 there were around 300 warrior families of prominance throughout the country. By the year 1600 there were about 100 daimyō with a revenue of 50,000 koku per year, and in 1614 there were about 200 daimyō each with a revenue of 10,000 koku or more (Sansom). In addition, as the daimyō took control of the country, they forced their vassals to live in towns around the castle, thus starting the growth of castle towns, the urbanization of the warrior class, and the growth of the merchant class.
1500 Go-Kashiwabara becomes Emperor (but the enthronement ceremony is not held until 1521 due to a lack of funds).
1501-1504 Bunki Era
1504-1521 Eishō Era
1508 Hosokawa is assasinated in Kyōtō and Yoshizumi flees. Yoshitane is restored to office with the help of the ōuchi of Yamaguchi, but now battles take place among the Hosokawa for the title and position of Kanrei.
1521-1528 Daiei Era
1521 Yoshitane flees the capital and goes into exile. Ashikaga Yoshiharu becomes the twelfth shōgun at the age of ten. He serves as Hosokawa Takakuni's puppet.
1526 Go-Nara becomes Emperor (although the enthronement ceremony is not held until 1536 due to a lack of funds).
1528-1532 Kyōroku Era
1532-1555 Temmon Era
1532 The Ikkō Buddhist sect (as the Jodō Shinshū/True Pure Land sect was then known) establishes Ishiyama as their headquarters.
1542 Three Portuguese land at Tanegashima, a small island off the coast of Kyūshū, when their ship is blown off course. When they return to China (from where they had come) they tell other Portuguese about Japan and traders and missionaries begin to arrive a year or two later. Firearms are introduced to Japan when they see those carried by the original Portuguese who had landed on Tanegashima.
1546 Ashikaga Yoshiharu flees Kyōto. His son Yoshiteru becomes the thirteenth shōgun and serves under Hosokawa control.
1549 Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary, arrives in Kagoshima, Kyūshū.
1551 Tally trade with China breaks down. An unrestrained number of Japanese ships now sail between Japan and China.
1552 Francis Xavier leaves Japan and returns to Goa. Six other missionaries come to Japan to continue his work.
1555-1558 Kōji Era
1557 ōgimachi becomes Emperor.
1558-1570 Eiroku Era
1560 One of the Jesuit missionaries meets with Yoshiteru in Kyōto. Yoshiteru issues orders that the missionaries are to be well treated and not taxed, and are authorized to work in Kyōto. By this time there are about 12 missionaries in Japan, most living and working on Kyūshū.
1560 Imagawa, the daimyō of Suruga Province, leads an army into Owari Province on his way to Kyōto. His hope is to take the capital and rule the country. He is defeated and killed in the battle of Okehazama by an army led by Oda Nobunaga.
1561 Tokugawa Ieyasu (then called Matsudaira Motoyasu), who had been a thirteen year hostage of Imagawa, and had marched with him the previous year, makes a pact with Oda and agrees to support him. He takes the name Ieyasu.
1564 Oda makes an alliance with Asai Nagamasa, the daimyō of ōmi Province, by sending his sister to be Asai's wife.
1565 Ashikaga Yoshiteru, along with his wife and mother, is assassinated by Matsunaga, an agent of the Miyoshi house (vassals of the Hosokawa). Yoshihide becomes the forteenth shōgun and Yoshiaki escapes to Echizen.
1566 The emperor, under pressure from the Buddhists, issues an order expelling Christian missionaries from Kyōto. They flee to Kyūshū and Sakai. The court gives Ieyasu the right to use the name Tokugawa.
1567 Portuguese traders arrive in Nagasaki. Ieyasu has, by this time, subdued the last of the Imagawa and become the ruler of all of Mikawa Province.
Early 1567 Yoshiaki (the younger brother of Yoshiteru), from his exile at Asakura's estate in Echizen, asks Oda to help him restore the Ashikaga Bakufu.
Late 1567 Oda subdues the Saitō clan and takes control of Mino Province. His wins are due, in part, to the skills and judgement of one of his junior commanders, Hideyoshi.
Mid 1568 Oda defeats the Rokkaku in ōmi and, as this was his last obstalce, his road to the capital was clear.
November 1568 Oda Nobunaga occupies Kyōto and installs Yoshiaki as the fifteenth, and last, Ashikaga Shōgun.
Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1568-1600)
Edo Period (1603-1868)
Meiji Period (1868-1912)
Taishō Period (1912-1926)
Shōwa Period (1926-1989)
Heisei Period (1989-Present)

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