History Today subscription

Japan

Meiji, Emperor of Japan, and the imperial family, woodcut, late 19th century. (Getty Images)

When it comes to rapid world-changing events, the Meiji Restoration has few equals.

Manjirō Nakahama, late 19th century.

A teenager shipwrecked on a Pacific atoll helped transform relations between Japan and the United States.

A map of the Japanese city from the Edo period was one of the earliest produced for general use. 

Japan’s vast Asian empire became home to more than a million female settlers, who told their stories in an effort to keep in contact. 

Way of the samurai: Mishima on the day of his suicide. Ⓒ AFP/Getty Images.

Angered by his native country’s rush towards western-style modernisation, the acclaimed Japanese author committed a shocking act of protest.

Natsume Sōseki, c.1910

The visit of Natsume Sōseki to London at the turn of the 20th century suggested ways of successfully combining western industrialism with ‘Japanese Spirit’.

A Japanese merchant ship is torpedoed and sunk by a US submarine, November 18th, 1943.

An island nation with few resources, Japan was in a precarious enough position when it declared war on the United States in December 1941. That its powerful navy failed to learn the lessons of previous conflicts made matters even worse, as Malcolm Murfett explains.

A Japanese map produced during the Second World War encouraged children to follow the Empire's military effort, explains Kate Wiles.

Standoff: police officers outside the Asama Sansō lodge, February 1st, 1972.

Tim Stanley describes the Asama-Sansō Incident of 1972 and reveals the cyclical nature of political violence and the means of its defeat.

C.R. Boxer offers a study of Japanese isolationism between the mid-seventeenth and the mid-nineteenth century.