For the people who are not familiar to Japan and Japanese history the following outline may be useful. Please note that in some part of those eras their definition might be academically controversial - the purpose of this brief is to give you a quite rough idea of ages which festival characters or events are involved in, remotely or not.




 JOMON  10,000-300 BC

 660 BC. Mythological Jimmu, descendant of sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, founds empire.

 (Key persons or clans: Izanagi, Izanami, Amaterasu, Susanoo, Kushinadahime, Amenouzume, Sarutahiko,
  Ninigi, Okuninushi, Kotoshironushi)


 YAYOI  300 BC-AD 300

 People identify kami (divine forces) in nature and in such human virtues as loyalty and wisdom.


 YAMATO  300-592

 Descendants of Amaterasu Omikami begin the imperial dynasty.


 ASUKA  592-710

 Reforms aim to strengthen the emperor's power. New aristocratic families are created.

 (Key persons or Clan:  Prince Shotoku, Soga clan)


NARA   710-794

 Imperial court builds new capital at Nara . Emperors are Shinto chiefs. Buddhism is adopted as the state


 HEIAN  794-1185

 Imperial court moves to Kyoto to escape domination of Nara 's Buddhist establishment.

 (Key persons or clans: Fujiwara family, Sugawara Michizane, Taira no Kiyomori, Shirabyoshi Gioh, the
 Heike, the Genji, Minamoto no Yoritomo, Minamoto no Yoshitsune)


KAMAKURA   1185-1333

 Military government is established in Kamakura . Emperor remains in Kyoto with the court aristocracy.

 (Key persons or clans: Minamoto no Yoritomo, Soga brothers, Emperor Gotoba, Emperor Tsuchimikado,
 The Hojo)


 MUROMACHI  1333-1568

 Muromachi district of Kyoto becomes base for new military government. Oda Nobunaga starts process of
Japan after a century of civil war (1467-1568).

 (Key persons or clans: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi (Hashiba) Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu, The Ashikaga


EDO   1600-1868

 Tokugawa Ieyasu founds new shogunate at Edo ( Tokyo ). Japan enters an age of peace and national

 (Key persons or clans: Tokugawa Ieyasu, Ota Dokan)


 MEIJI  1868-1912

 The emperor is restored. Japan makes transition to nation-state. Emphasis is on building a strong military
powers and strengthening industries.


 TAISHO  1912-1926

Japan expands economic base within Asia and the Pacific.


 SHOWA  1926–1989

Japan experiences World War II and its aftermath, as well as economic recovery.


 HEISEI  1989   In 1989 Prince Akihito succeeds to the throne