History and Current Events

Japan's Geography

About 4,000 islands make up the Japanese island group. It extends 1,200 miles long. More Japanese people have lived on the four largest islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Japan's geography have both advantages and disadvantages. Southern Japan gets a mild climate with enough rainfall. The country is mountainous however, only about 12 percent of the land is suitable for farming. Natural resources such as coal, oil, and iron are in short supply. Earthquakes and tidal waves are a big threat to Japan.

History Of Japan

Japan was settled by paleolithic people from Asian mainland about 35,000 years ago. The Japanese culture went from Shintoism to Buddhism since Japan was settled into a country. Buddhism came to Japan in 538 and lasted to 710 A.D. Japan's culture rapidly developed in the Heian era. They had attacks by the mongols in 1274 and 1281 also.


Japan's first historic mentions was in the first century but was in the form of Chinese writings. At this time Japan was not a united country. Hundred of clans had their own territory that they ruled. Each clan worshipped its own gods and goddesses. In different parts of Japan, people worshipped thousands of local gods. Eventually their varied customs and beliefs formed it's own government called Shinto. Shinto means way of the gods. It was based on respect for the forces of nature and on the worship of ancestors. The worshippers of Shintoism, believed in kami meaning devine spirits that dwelled in nature.

Current events in Japan

About 2.5 years ago Japan was hit with an earthquake and a tsunami. The earthquake struck Japan's east coast followed minutes later by a massive tsunami with 100 foot waves. During the earthquake about a hundred people died, and during the tsunami about 20,000 people lost their lives. It was massive. 138,000 buildings were destroyed and $360 billion in economic losses were incurred. It was the most expensive disaster in human history.


The feudal system started when large landowners living away from the capital began to set up private armies. The countryside became lawless and dangerous. Armed soldiers preyed on farmers and travelers, and pirates took control of the seas. For the safety of the farmers and small landowners, they traded parts of their land yo strong warlords for exchange of protection. The more land the lords got, they more power they gained.