- Adams, William
One of the first Englishmen to reach Japan, in 1600. He became a trusted adviser to shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and was made a samurai. He was one of the most influential foreigners in the history of Japan. He Japanese name was Miura Anjin.
- Itō Hirobumi
Leading Meiji-era statesman and first prime minister of Japan.
Emperor of Japan from 1868 to 1912, also known as Mutsuhito.
- Oda Nobunaga
Major daimyō during the Warring States period and the initiator of the unification of Japan.
- Perry, Matthew Calbraith
American Commodore who forced Japan to open its ports to the Western powers in 1853, which eventually led to the fall of the Tokugawa regime and the modernization of Japan under Meiji.
- Saigo Takamori
One of samurai from Satsuma supporting the Meiji Restoration. He is often considered to be the last real samurai to die as such, and inspired the 2003 film The Last Samurai.
Emperor of Japan from 1926 to 1989, also known as Hirohito.
Emperor of Japan from 1912 to 1926, also known as Yoshihito.
- Tokugawa Ieyasu
Founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate.
- Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Sucessor of Oda Nobunaga, who completed the political unification of Japan during the Sengoku period.
- Yamagata Aritomo
Prominent Meiji-era statesman and founder of the modern Japanese army. He served twice as prime minister.
Former name of Yamaguchi prefecture.
Former name of Niigata prefecture.
Former name of Fukui prefecture.
Former name of Tokyo until 1868.
Old name of Kyōto from 794 to 1185.
Former name of Nara when it was the capital of Japan, from 710-740 and from 745-784.
Old name of Hokkaidō until 1869.
Old province in the north of modern Gifu prefecture.
Old province of Japan corresponding roughly to the modern Ibaraki Prefecture. It is also the name of one of Japan's largest technological corporations, although the province and the company are not related and their names are spelt with different Chinese characters (respectively 常陸 vs 日立).
One of the former names of Kyōto.
Former province comprising most of the Greater Tokyo today, including most of Saitama Prefecture and part of Kanagawa Prefecture (Kawasaki and Yokohama).
Old name of Ōsaka until the 16th century.
Former name of Kagoshima prefecture.
Former name of Kochi prefecture.
Final years of the Tokugawa shogunate (1853-1867), from the arrival of Commodore Perry to the Meiji Restoration.
- Daijō Daijin
Chancellor of the Realm presiding over the Great Council of State. It was the highest government position during the Heian period, and remained a prestigious honourary title until the Edo period.
Ritual suicide. Usually called seppuku by the Japanese.
Traditional Japanese theatre.
Traditional family crest of the aristocracy. Also called "Monsho" or just "Mon".
The most common of the traditional Japanese sword used by samurai (average lenght of 70 cm).
Literally "small Tachi". A short Japanese sword (average 59 cm in length) that would be carried by non-samurai, such as merchants.
Traditional 13-stringed instrument played flat on the floor.
- Meiji Restoration
Historical period coinciding with the Westernization and industrialization of Japan.
A covert agent or mercenary of feudal Japan specializing in espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination.
Literally "field sword". Large two-handed Japanese sword often exceeding 90 cm in length. Roughly the same as ōdachi meaning "large sword".
Male actor playing a woman's role in Kabuki.
Literally "Minister of the Left", the Sadaijin was a Senior Minister of State. It was the second highest government position after the Daijō Daijin during the Nara and Heian periods.
Member of the military caste of feudal Japan.
Warring state. Name of a historical period of civil war spanning from the mid-15th to the early 17th century.
Ritual suicide. Also known as harakiri.
Elite samurai corps of the late Tokugawa era.
Military ruler in feudal Japan.
A shogunal license to trade sealed with vermilion wax, used during the Sengoku and Edo periods.
Japanese sword that is more curved and slightly longer than the katana, with an average length of 78cm. Mostly used by high-ranking samurai during the Sengoku and Edo periods.
Sword guard as used on "katana".
Literally "Minister of the Right", the Udaijin was a Junior Minister of State, deputy of the Sadaijin. It was the third highest government position during the Nara and Heian periods.
Cormorant fishing. This has been practice for a very long time in Japan and can still be observed in some rural areas such as the Gify prefecture (see Inuyama.
Traditional Japanese woodblock prints (or woodcuts) and paintings produced between the 17th and the early 20th centuries.
Traditional Japanese sword with a short blade (between 30 and 60 cm, i.e. between 12 and 24 inches).
Traditional straight-headed spear used by foot troops and samurai. The martial art of wielding the yari is called sōjutsu.
Wedding of Crown Prince Yoshihito (future Emperor Meiji) and Princess Kujō Sadako
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