660 B.C. According to the legend, Jimmi Tennu became Japan's first emperor.

A.D. 400's New ideas began arriving in Japan from China

646 The Taiko Reform began. It set up a central government controlled by the emperor.

858 The Fujiwara Family gained control of the imperial court.

1192 Yorimoto became the first shogun.

1543 Portugese sailors became the first Europeans to reach Japan.

1603 The Tokugawa family began its more than 250-year rule of Japan.

1630's Japan cut ties with the outside world.

1853 Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States made his first arrival in Japan. He later opened two ports to U.S. trade.

1867 Emperor Mutsuhito regained his traditional powers.

1868Under the leadership of Emperor Mutsuhito, the Meiji Revolution of Japan began.

1894-1895 Japan quickly won a war with China.

1904-1905 Japan's defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War established the country as a world power.

1923 An earthquake destroyed much of Tokyo and Yokohama.

1931 Japan seized the Chinese province of Manchuria.

1937 Japan began a war with China. The fighting became part of World War II.

1941 Japan attacked U.S. bases at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

1945 The United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered to the Allies, and the Allied occupation of Japan began.

1947 Japan's democratic Constitution went into effect.

1951 Japan signed a general peace treaty and a security treaty with the United States.

1952 The Allied occupation of Japan ended.

1960 Japan signed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security with the United States.

1980's Opposition to Japan's international trade policies grew in the United States , canada, and some other countries.












The early days...

The story of how Tokyo became the capital of Japan, in place of former Kyoto, begins with a closer look at the history of the Imperial Palace (former Edo Castle). Warlord Toyotomu Hideyoshi captured the land where the castle sits around 1590. Having his eyes set on controlling Kyoto, the capital at the time, Hideyoshi gave the land to fellow warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu. Hideyoshi viewed Ieyasu as a great threat; therefore, he wanted Ieyasu far away from Kyoto, as he could be a dangerous rival. To Hideyoshi’s dismay, Ieyasu had achieved military hegemony by 1600. He was named shogun, and his government, the bakufu, was established. With this, he started building his dear castle. Extravagant building followed, and some of the stones used in construction required the strength of 200 men to move them. Hills were leveled and the bay was pushed back to allow such a large building. Finally, after great effort, Ieyasu’s castle was built: pure white stucco from lime, gray clay tiles with two massive golden dolphins at each summit. The castle was an architectural personification of ideal feudalism. It housed Ieyasu’s entire cabinet, craftsmen and servants, as well as merchants and peasants who provided for them. The castle remained in the Tokugawa family for 15 generations during their more than 250-year rule of Japan. The castle, existing as the core of Edo, remains the core of Tokyo.

Emergence of the West into Japan:

Japan maintained a certain level of isolation from the West until the 19th century. Foreign trading ships were closely watched, and they were only allowed to dock on the port of Nagasaki. Travel by the Japanese to outside countries was also prohibited. The West remained steadfast in their pursuit of the Japanese market, and in 1853 the U.S. government sent Commodore Matthew Perry equipped with four warships to open relations with Japan. He sailed into the Japanese bay to negotiate with the Japanese. The Japanese were confronted with Commodore Perry and more warships the following year. Finally they conceded, partly due to Perry’s efforts, and in 1858 the Japanese signed various trade treaties with the United States and Western Europe.

The Meiji Emperor Mutsuhito facilitated westernization, when he took control of Japan in 1867. He moved the capital from Kyoto to Edo in 1868 and later renamed it Tokyo.

Disastrous Days in Tokyo's History and Cues to Rebuild

Earthquakes and Reconstruction:
Massive buildings collapsed and havoc roared through the streets of Tokyo on September 1, 1923 during an earthquake. Most of Tokyo was destroyed, and 59,000 residents died. The city was rebuilt over the next 20 years.

World War II
Destruction and restoration are undeniable facets of war, and Tokyo is a perfect example of this. The city first met American bombers in April, 1942. However, the majority of destruction occurred from March to August of 1945, when Japan announced its intention to surrender. The bombs ruined nearly 97 square miles of Tokyo, and the death toll reached 250,000 persons. Fear engulfed the atmosphere, and thousands fled the city. Subsequently, Tokyo’s population dropped dramatically from 7,350,000 in 1940 to 3,500,000 in 1945.

The Present Style of Tokyo

Present day Tokyo has an overwhelming sense of chaos where you can find yourself taking sudden turns, experiencing instant felicities and almost always discovering surprising incongruities. After fires, earthquakes, and massive aerial attacks, Tokyo has been built, destroyed and rebuilt time and time again. The resulting style of Tokyo seems to be one completely lacking in any direction. Furthermore, a “lack of one true style” may be a more appropriate description. Former Edo, except for its street grids, is almost completely hidden in modern Tokyo. The buildings are relatively recent and unmistakably Western in appearance.

Works Cited

Gakken.Pictorial Encyclopedia of Japanese Culture: The Soul and Heritage of Japan Tokyo, Japan:Gakken CO.,LTD., 1987

Hane, Mikiso.Japan: A short HistoryBoston, MA: Oneworld Publications, 2000

Runkle, Scott F. An Introduction to Japanese History.Japan: International Society for Information Press, Inc., 1976