10 history facts about Japan that will amaze you

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Japan is known for its incredible culture, traditional arts, and has a colourful history. Until slightly more than a century ago it was closed off from the world until it opened its doors to the Western World in the mid-1800s. It quickly adopted modern technology and became a military, industrial and technological giant.

Here are 10 amazing history facts about Japan to give you a richer understanding of its history.

1) Kamakura, a city in Japan was the 4th largest city in the world in 1250, and it was considered the de facto capital of Japan from the period of 1185 to 1333.

A picture of Aerial photography of buildings in kamakura
Aerial photography of buildings in Kamakura

2) Gesaku (woodblock colour prints) are considered by many as early comic books. The Japanese created them after 1765.

A picture of A print of Japanese Comic.- history facts about Japan
A print of Japanese Comic.

3) In the 1600s the Japanese were producing mechanical puppets called Karakuri. Moreover, by the 19th century, these puppets were serving tea and even shooting arrows. This history fact explains the fascination of robots in Japan.

A picture of Karakuri - incredibly sophisticated mechanized puppets- history facts about Japan
Karakuri – incredibly sophisticated mechanized puppets

4) Till the late 1800s, women in Japan dyed their teeth black in a practice called Ohaguro. Additionally, white teeth weren’t considered a thing of beauty then.

A picture of a A japanese woman with black teeth- history facts about Japan
A Japanese woman with black teeth

5) Another fact in our list of history facts about Japan is that the Japanese samurai were known to cut down commoners in the street in order to test the sharpness of their blade. This practice was called tsujigiri (crossroad killings).

A picture depicting tsujigiri

6) It was once illegal to eat meat in Japan. From the start of the mid 17th century, the Japanese government imposed a ban on eating meat which lasted on and off for around 1200 years.

7) The first novel originated from Japan. It was called the Tale of Genji and was written by a Japanese Noblewoman.

A picture of the Written text from the earliest illustrated handscroll of the Tale of Genji
Written text from the earliest illustrated handscroll of the Tale of Genji

8) Another interesting fact in our list of history facts about Japan is that it has the oldest continuous music and dance traditions called Gagaku and Bugaku.

A picture of Bugaku- Japanese Imperial Court Dance- history facts about Japan
Bugaku- Japanese Imperial Court Dance

9) Japan was closed off from the world for nearly 217 years. This was due to the passing of a law called Sukoku Edict. The law restricted trade banned the foreign travel of Japanese and banned Christianity.

10) The final fact in our list of history facts about Japan is about Tateishi Onojiro nicknamed Tommy. He was one of the first and the youngest of the samurais to visit America. Subsequently, he became somewhat of a National Celebrity. A song was written after him, called the Tommy Polka.

A picture of Tateishi Onojiro
Tateishi Onojiro

Read about the fierce Japanese female warriors The onna-bugeisha – 8 Facts About Japan’s Female Warriors

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