Japanese Military History Timeline to 1400 AD

10,000 BC

Jomon Culture emerges, hunter gatherer society

300 BC

Yayoi Society, agricultural society with well developed regional politics.

189 AD

Japan known as Wa by Chinese. Warrior Queen called Himiko (or Pimiko) takes the throne. Weapons described as a Halberd and wooden shield and bow. Arrows are of bamboo. The Shamanistic Himiko is believed to have united and ruled 28 lands or clans.

c.200-266 AD

Several early Japanese sources record an invasion of Korea by the possibly legendary Empress Jingu Kogo. There is also a possible mention of a Japanese invasion in 391 recorded on the Gwanggaeto Stele, but the text is unclear and this could also refer to a Korean attack on Japan.

239 AD

Emissaries of Queen Himiko sent to the Chinese Emperor Ming

245 AD

Possible rebellion/ civil war between Himiko and a territory known as Kona (or Kunu)

350 AD

Around this time the Japanese Imperial court is established.  This is often called the Yamato Sun Line and it is believed to have ruled a unified country.

391 AD

Japanese now fighting the remaining two Korea kingdoms of Koguryo and Silla reaching as far as modern Pyong-yang (although there is limited evidence for this)

404 AD

Japanese attack Korean kingdom of Koguryo

421 AD

Envoy sent to China by Emperor Ojin son of Empress Jingu. Horses begin to be introduced into Japan and Japanese warfare. Shields and shield wall tactics still used but the common 4ft Japanese pavise starts to disappear from usage as Horsemen become dominant. The halberd and lance give way to the sword and bow, scale armour based on Chinese styles also develops.

512 AD

Japanese colony/ base of Mimana in Korea starts to become more Korean with four prefectures handed to local forces. Korean Kingdom of Paekche asks for Japanese help against rival Korean kingdoms and sends Confucian Scholars to Japan. Mimana under siege from Korean kingdom of Silla forces aided by pro Korean sympathizers within area. Iwai, governor of Tsukushi allies with pro Korean forces in Mimana. His rebellion is put down by Mononobe no Arakabi.

538 AD

Buddhist statues and Scriptures arrive in Japan from Kingdom of Paekche. The Imperial clan adopted the new religion leading to a source of future conflict

562 AD

Mimana falls to forces of the kingdom of Silla.

587 AD

Emperor Yomei dies and civil war breaks out. Mononobe clan crushed by Sogo clan at the Battle of Mt Shigi, Emperor Sujun established.

593 AD

Asuka Era begins with Shotoku Tashi as regent. Chinese influence in Japan strengthens. Emperors become more reclusive and no longer lead armies in battle.

645 AD

Nakatomi clan move against Soga no Iruka. Assassins kill Iruka in front of Empress Kogyoku, Prince Katsuragi who aided the Nakatomi is rewarded by the name Fujiwara, the first of the line which would later become very powerful.

646 AD

Japanese forces beat back a Chinese attack on kingdom of Paekche

660 AD

Chinese forces conquer Korean kingdom of Paekche.

661 AD

Empress Saimei personally leads a 27,000 strong expedition to liberate Paekche. The Empress dies on route and the Japanese force is nearly wiped out by a T’ang Chinese Fleet at the battle of Paekchongang. Japanese become more interested in defending their homeland than in Korea.

701 AD

Emperor Tenmu produces the Taiho code which limits bearing arms to the military.

710 AD

Emperor Genmei moves capital to Nara. A council decides an Empress will never rule in her own right. Fujiwara Nakamaro builds up the military and frontier defences. Military and peasant class start to separate as conscription is replaced by professional soldiers.

794 AD

Emperor Kanmu moves capital to Heiankyo which was later to become Kyoto. Kyoto remains the capital until the Emperor moves to Tokyo in 1879.

890 AD

Buddhist monasteries begin employing groups of armed men to defend their property. Most of these private army’s members are not clergy. Violence between various sects including the burning of rival temples is a problem.

981 AD

Tendai sect monks on Mt Hiei now have an army of several thousand Sohei (warrior monks). These are used to help the monks make demands in Kyoto.

1055 AD

Beginning of the ‘Early Nine Years War’ when territorial governor Abe no Yoritoki rebels

1063 AD

End of The Early Nine Years War, as Minamoto Yoryoshi finally crushed the rebellion

1108 AD

First clash between Genji (Minamoto clan) and Heike (Taira clan)

1156 AD

Hogen no Ran or Hogen Era Insurrection. A power struggle between Emperor Go-Shirakawa and retired Emperor Sutoku.

1159 AD

The Heiji no Ran insurrection. Minamoto Yoshitomo and Fujiwara Nobuyori rise in revolt. Yoshitomo is killed but his young sons are spared.

1180 AD

Beginning of the Genpei War

1192 AD

Minamoto Yoritomo becomes Shogun having crushed his enemies. A military government (Bakufu) is established.

1223 AD

The Bakufu puts together the Joei Code a compilation of laws which govern the warrior clans

1274 AD

The first Mongol invasion under Kublai Khan.

1281 AD

The Second Mongol invasion is scattered by a terrible storm, the Kami Kaze or divine wind.

1333 AD

Emperor Go-Daigo overthrows the Bakufu and restores power to the Emperor. The Hojo regency ends with the suicide of many of the Hojo clan. Japan splits into two courts with two different emperors during a long period of civil war.

1392 AD

The Southern court surrenders to the Northern court and the civil war ends.

How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T (20 August 2007), Japanese Military History Timeline to 1400 AD , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/timeline_japan_1400.html

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