BOOK: A History of Japan by R.H.P. Mason & J.G. Caiger

BOOK: A History of Japan by R.H.P. Mason & J.G. Caiger

Read time: 2 minutes

“A History of Japan” by R.H.P. Mason & J.G Caiger


Those seeking to gain a brief overview of Japanese history from the Heian period (year 794), ‘Medieval Japan’ (year 1185), Tokugawa era (year 1600), the Meiji Restoration (year 1868) and onwards through ‘Modern’ Japan (year 1912+), whilst learning how culture and the arts influenced and were influenced during each era.


Overall the timeline is chronological: Heian era, Ashikaga era, Tokugawa era, Meiji Restoration

However there are deep dives in to specific points of interest, so we learn about the Ashikaga era and then the Tokugawa era but then reverse dive into the reasons for the Ashikaga failure. This doesn’t feel disjointed but instead enhances the learning experience, delving further into subjects we learned about a couple of chapters ago.

The Rise and Fall of the House of Taira described in the ‘Medieval Japan’ chapter and The Failure of Ashikaga Rule deep dive:

Discussion of how the Tokugawa government was run and a chapter about the Meiji Restoration and how it was a pre-cursor to ‘Modern Japan’:


Occasionally we see images relevant to the period being discussed opening up the understanding of how life during the period was like, such as a Kamakura period scroll and a Muromachi period temple teahouse, as well as a portrait of Shogun Hideyoshi and an early photograph of Himeji Castle:


To support the text outlines, diagrams presenting hierarchical structures are included, such as the power structure of the Tokugawa regime as well as the Heian period government structure:

For an introduction to Japanese history starting in the Heian period through to the Meiji era and the following Modern Japan, “A History of Japan” is a wonderful read and makes for excellent quick references to sharpen up on the eras.

It’s structure with deep dives into certain areas maintains a good pace and never bloats with unnecessary information.

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