A group of islands off the eastern coast of Asia, east and northeast of Korea. The region has hosted a strongly homogeneous culture for all of recorded history. .

Two comments... Regarding names; the list records regnal styles used after the death or retirement of the ruler, not personal names. Although I would prefer to use the names in use during the lifetime of their possessors, I retain the regnal title since that is more widely recognized. Both are given in the latest era. 

My second comment is to the wide and frequent distribution of abdications. One should not imply from the fact that, as about 40% of these rulers from the Nara Era onward can be seen to have left the throne before they died, that therefore in Japan revolutions and succession crises are endemic. While there certainly have been forcible depositions, assassinations, and revolts at times, the large number is simply a reflection of a tendency within the culture to retire from the burdens of official life after a time. In the case of the Tennos ("Emperors"), they often settled in monasteries, where they continued to exert influence over their successors from the privileged position of elder statesmen..

From the traditional founding of the nation, to the modern era. Includes lists of Shoguns and the Shikken. A selection of Daimyos are included, to wit: Aizu, Aki, Amako, Arima, Asai, Asakura, Bizen, Choshu, Chosokabe, Date, Echizen, Hachisura, Hikone, Hizen, Hojo, Hosokawa, Inaba-Hoka, Kaga, Kii, Kuroda, Maeda, Matsudaira, Mito, Mori, Mutsu, Oda, Otomo, Ouchi, Owari, Ryuzoji, Satake, Satsuma, Satsuma-Kagashima, Satsuma-Sadowara, Sendai, Shimazu, So, Takada, Takeda, Todo, Tokugawa, Tosa, Toyotomi, Tsugaru, and Uesugi. There are also notes on the Ainu, Chuzan, Deshima, Hokkaido, Hokuzan, Nanzan, the Ryukyu Islands, Uchima, and Wa.

JAPAN A record of succeeding Tennos. The early dates should be approached with caution, especially those prior to circa 500. In official chronicles, Jimmu Tenno is said to have ruled circa 600 BCE, but this is only possible if his next ten or more successors lived the impossibly long life-spans they are credited with in the court histories.

The SHOGUNATE The Shoguns were, from early modern Japan to close to the present day, the secular rulers of the nation, while the Tennos were the spiritual heads.

The SHIKKENATE As has been mentioned above, the Japanese tend to nest authority in layers, insulating inner levels from day-to-day stress. Thus, the Shoguns assumed temporal command of the nation, leaving the Emperors to a secluded position of spiritual influence. Then too, the custom of going inkyo (retirement), leaving one's office to a young candidate while one continues to exert power from a position of monastic seclusion, is another example of this tendency. For more than a century, the Shoguns themselves were subject to this condition. In 1203 the Hojo clan assumed control of the state as Shikken (regents) for the Shoguns.


Here are notes on the leaders of some of the major Japanese daimyo clans, who were more or less independent during the decline of the Ashikaga Shogunate in the 15th and 16th centuries. After the fall of the Ashikaga in 1573, these clans were entirely independent and waged war on one another to gain the shogunate for themselves. The unification of Japan began under Oda Nobunaga in the early 1580's. After his death the Toyotomi clan continued the process but were displaced by the rise of the Tokugawa. In 1600 Ieyasu Tokugawa defeated a coalition of rival clans at Sekigahara, forcing them to submit to his rule and bringing all of Japan under the control of the Shogunate once again. He ruled informally until 1603, when he was declared Shogun. Though he resigned his office in 1605, he continued to hold most of the power in Japan until his death in 1616.


AKI In southeast Honshu. AMAKO North of Hiroshima ARIMA In northern Kyushu. ASAI Central Honshu, north of Kyoto. ASAKURA In west-central Honshu, in the town of  Fukui. BIZEN In southwest Honshu. CHOSHU Located in south Honshu CHOSOKABE East of Hosokawa. DATE Located in northeastern Honshu. ECHIZEN In west-central Honshu. HACHISURA HIKONE HIZEN In western Kyushu HOJO A major clan located in the area around Edo (Tokyo) HOSOKAWA Situated on the large island south of Hiroshima. INABA-HOKA In southwestern Honshu KAGA In west-central Honshu. KII In central Honshu KURODA In northern Kyushu. MAEDA MATSUDAIRA In west-central Honshu MITO In eastern Honshu. MORI West of Hiroshima. MUTSU ODA One of the most powerful clans, located west of Kamakura. OTOMO OUCHI OWARI In east-central Honshu. RYUZOJI In Nagasaki. SATAKE In northwest Honshu. SATSUMA In southern Kyushu. SATSUMA-KAGASHIMA SATSUMA-SADOWARA SENDAI SHIMAZU In Kagoshima. SO (Tsushima) A domain on two islands in southwestern Japan. TAKADA TAKEDA Situated between Edo (Tokyo) and Kamakura. TODO In southeastern Honshu. TOKUGAWA Close neighbors and allies of the Oda. They emerged as the strongest clan under Ieyasu and eventually unified Japan under their hegemony. TOSA In south-central Honshu TOYOTOMI An extremely powerful clan and the last one to submit to the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate. TSUGARU UESUGI (Dewa) In northwestern Honshu. The Uesugi were enemies of the Ainu tribes still extant in the north of the country.

Provincial localities

The AINU The aboriginal inhabitants of Japan, they reside mainly on Hokkaido and, in Russia, on Sakhalin. They live by hunting, fishing, small-scale farming, and more recently by tourism. Their language and physical morphology are entirely unrelated to other east Asian peoples; their traditional religion is a shamanistic animism centered around a Bear Cult. They have been gradually pushed further and further north by succeeding extensions of Japanese control over the islands, and now are in much reduced numbers. They have never held a definite state in the sense usually catalogued by this archive. Nevertheless, from time to time Ainu leaders have emerged under one circumstance or another, which the following list notes.

DESHIMA Deshima is a small island located in Nagasaki harbour. From the 17th to the 19th centuries, it was granted as a Concession to the Dutch East India Company for use as a trading entrepot - the only such establishment allowed by the Japanese government to Western mercantile interests during the era between the closing of Japan by the Shogunate and the re-opening under the Meiji reforms.

 Hokkaidō, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island and the largest, northernmost of its 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaidō from Honshū, although the two islands are connected by the underwater Seikan Tunnel. The largest city on Hokkaidō is its capital, Sapporo, which is also its only ordinance-designated city.

The RYUKYU ISLANDS (Chin. "Lu Chu") A long string of closely grouped archipelagos extending from southern Japan to northeastern Taiwan. The largest and best-known of the group is Okinawa. The islands have long hosted a local culture (whose language shows some affinities to Ainu), and several states have existed here. Nevertheless, in that they are very strategically placed, they have more often than not been under the control (directly or indirectly) of empires with interests in the East China Sea or the Philippine Basin. The result has been the creation a persistant and tough-minded population who are not afraid to defend themselves: perhaps the Ryukyus best-known export has been karate ("empty-hand").