The Earliest Japanese History

Since I know there are people who follow my blog looking for things about Japan and I like to study how population groups ended up in certain places around the globe, I will talk to you a little about how the Japanese ended up in Japan.  Japanese early history is not as well documented as Korean early history.  However, there have been people on the islands of Japan for many, many years. The earliest time they think there were people there 30,000 to 10,000 B. C., but it is really unknown when they got there. Before the Ice Age, they say there was a land bridge, and so some people went to Japan on the land bridge that no longer exists. There is a lot of discussion about where they came from, and they have even tried to do genetic testing to figure it out.

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The Ainu are very much like the American Indians.


The Japanese people will tell you the first people in Japan were the Ainu, and some of them still exist, but not many. My Japanese friends spoke about the Ainu regretfully. They compared them to the American Indians and felt like Japan had treated them badly.  They live up north in Hokaiko as well as some in Okinawa.  I did some research on the Ainu to find out what kind of people they were.  When you read about them and see pictures, they are very similar in looks to an American Indian.  They have black hair, dark eyes, and skin that easily tans. Many of them have tans because they are fishermen and farmers, but if they don’t spend time outside, they have white skin.  Their eyes are not what we call oriental eyes in the west. They are not slanted.  Their language is most closely related to the Mongolians.  They have the same grammatical patterns.  When they tested them genetically, they said they were related to the people in Tibet, to Mongolians, and to people from an island close to India.

The Japanese government have tried to integrate them into Japan.  At first, they gave them Hokaido, and later, they changed their minds and sent Japanese people to live among them incorporating Hokaido into the rest of Japan. The government encouraged the Japanese people to marry them, and many did.  The Ainu women married the Japanese men thinking their kids would suffer less discrimination. My dad used to say kind of funny things. Once, he said, “They couldn’t kill all the American Indians off, so they tried to breed them out.”  It is very hard to find an American Indian now a days that is 100% American Indian of just one tribe.  However, a few exist.  The same is true with the Ainu because of the efforts of the Japanese government to get them integrated into Japanese society.  There are very, very few people left in Japan now a days that are only Ainu.

China is a huge complicated country, but they are related to the Japanese.


As for the Japanese people, when I was in Japan as a student, I was taken to a museum in Mito in Ibaraki.  The people there kept talking about when the Chinese first came to Japan and acted like they were all descended from Chinese, but when I researched, I learned there are only some who accept that idea.  Many say there were already Polynesian people on the Japanese islands, and yes, some Chinese came, but they were not the dominate culture.  The problem is that the early history of Japan is not very well documented, and they all disagree about where they came from.  They have done genetic testing on the Japanese people too, and they are also related to the people in Tibet, but they are also related to other Chinese groups and to the Koreans.  It is also true that in ancient times, there was a land bridge between the main land and Japan.

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The Japanese are related to the Koreans.

If you have been reading my blogs about the Korean people, you will know that the Baekje people of Korea lived down around Busan from 18 B. C. to 676 A. D. .  Baekje is the place whose culture really flourished.  They wrote with the Chinese characters and embraced Buddhism.  They took the Chinese characters and Buddhism over into Japan and shared it with them.  When the Baekje kingdom fell, the royal family of Baekje and many others from Baekje fled into Japan.  The royal family of Baekje and the royal family of Japan of the time intermarried just as the other members of the Baekje kingdom did with the regular Japanese people.

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Polynesians are related to the Japanese.

The Koreans and the Japanese are related.  The Chinese and Japanese are related.  I heard a story about some emperor of China who had to run out of China and gathered up all the children he could find with the best features and best hair and took them to Japan.  The Tibetans and the Japanese are related, and the Mongolians and the Japanese are related.  However, there was also a Polynesian tribe on Japan when the Chinese came, and they mixed as part of the Japanese people.  As far as the Chinese people, there is a big question mark about who they really are.  The ancient, ancient Chinese people grew up around the Yellow River on the mainland.  However, if you go into China today, there are many races in China and many different languages.  It is actually a very complicated country.  The largest ethnic group in the world today is the Han Chinese who are also related to the Koreans.  Today, the Koreans call their country Hanguk, their language is Han guk mal, and the big river that runs through Korea coming through Seoul is the Han River. These names probably came from the influence of the Chinese on the Shilla kingdom of Korea.  I have met Han Chinese in Korea who tell me that at home in China, they speak an old form of Korean at home, but speak Chinese when they go to school.  It seems that Both China and Japan have trouble documenting their ancient history and are very complicated very unlike the Korean people.

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The Japanese Shoguns came much later.  The Shogun who united all of Japan lived in Osaka castle in Osaka.

When you read about the history of Japan, you always think you are going to read about Shoguns, but they didn’t come into the picture until much later. The first Shogunate didn’t appear in Japan until the period of history from 1185-1333 A. D., the Kamakura Shogunate, and if you go to Osaka and tour Osaka Jo, the Osaka castle, you will find out there was a shogun during the Tokugawa period of Japanese history that actually first united all of Japan sometime between 1603 A. D. to 1868 A. D.

These Chinese characters originated in China, then were shared to the Korean kingdom of Baekje, and then taken from the to Japan between 18 B. C. to 676 A. D. The Japanese hiragana came much later.  Hiragana was created in 800 A. D. for the ladies of the court to use to write poetry.  The first column here is the kanji (Chinese characters) for the numbers. The second column is the pronunciation in hiragana (the Japanese alphabet.)  By the way, Ainu words are still written in katakana (the Japanese alphabet developed for writing foreign words).

When I was in Japan, they would always talk about the different periods of Japanese history, and it sounded so long and complicated to me because I was so used to American history, and American history is so short compared to Japanese history. However, documented Japanese history is no where near as long as the Korean documented history. It could be because they Koreans were using the Chinese characters before the Japanese, so had books before the Japanese.  There was a lot of sharing between China, Japan, and Korea, and it enriched all three countries. The origin of he Japanese people is a complicated mystery, but they know for sure the Ainu were there first.


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3 thoughts on “The Earliest Japanese History”

  1. wow the research you done for this is admirable. Love the fact that there is a close link between the various cultures. Its amazing how humanity has spread through the earth. Reading about Ainus, I wonder why do we humans enjoy dominating instead of co existing?

    1. I like to read ancient histories. I have actually also read a lot about where the Romanian people came from, the English people came from, where the French came from, and where the Nigerian people came from. Because I also spent time in Morocco as a child, I have an idea from site seeing about where they came from too. Besides all that, I am part Indian, and I have also read about the tribes that are in my ancestry. I find Oklahoma and Texas histories in America very interesting because that is where my family is from. When I was in high school, I got an award for the highest grade in history in my high school, and my knowledge of history has really helped me understand literature better as an English professor. There are certain people in history I really like like the monks in Europe who were instrumental in bringing us out of the dark ages, and I have also thought about blogging about them as well as blogging more about King Arthur and his knights. I find the ancient origins of people a very interesting subject. I have wondered if I should include what I know about other people groups in my blog also.

      1. please do. By educating us of the true past we get to know how tough our paths were and where we failed and where we are missing now. I am fond of reading history too, though I was not a fan of the subject in school cuz you have to memorise all the years and treaties and I sucked at it.

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