What to know about Japan

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The history of Japan is long, unique, and blighted by many conflicts. The ancestors of the indigenous Ainu and Yamata people arrived on the islands around 12,000 BC. The country’s first permanent capital, Nara, was established in 710 AD, at the same time as the emergence of the present-day Imperial dynasty. Buddhism was introduced from China in the mid-6th century and the temples at Nara became a power in the land.

By the 16th century, the country was divided into feudal fiefdoms, controlled by powerful Daimyo families who were protected by their samurai warriors. Constant conflict and civil war flourished since 1467, with Imperial Kyoto, the Japanese capital since 794 AD, the prize to be claimed. The unrest spurred the rise of a new leader, Oda Nobunaga, who successfully entered Kyoto only to be forced to commit ritual suicide (seppuku). He was succeeded by a commoner, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, whose grand plan for the country’s reunification was taken over by Tokugawa Ieyasu on his death.

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