East Asian History at a Glance

Books are part of the flow of history. But it is not only about Japanese history. Many books travel over the seas from time to time for several reasons, and a lot of knowledge and information come and go with books.

In this course, you wi’ll see books published in Japan as well as ones that came from China and Korea. Let’s take a quick look at the history of East Asia. You do not have to remember all the names of the historical periods mentioned, but please refer to this page as you progress through the course.

Timeline [Take a closer look]

The PDF version of the timelines on this page is available in the DOWNLOADS section below, which also includes some helpful maps. Please check it out!

Japanese History Overview

This is a list of the main periods of Japanese history. This may be a useful reference as we proceed in the course.

Period Name of Era Name of Era
- mid-3rd c. CE Yayoi 弥生
mid-3rd c. CE - 7th c. CE Kofun (Tomb period) 古墳
592 - 710 Asuka 飛鳥
710-794 Nara 奈良
794 - 1185 Heian 平安
1185 - 1333 Kamakura 鎌倉
1333 - 1392 Nanboku-chō (Southern and Northern Courts period) 南北朝
1392 - 1573 Muromachi 室町
1573 - 1603 Azuchi-Momoyama 安土桃山
1603 - 1868 Edo 江戸
1868 - 1912 Meiji 明治

Era names (Nengō) in Edo Period

There were several era names (nengo, or gengo) in the Edo period (1603 ~ 1868) and your educators will sometime use them in the description of old books and materials, especially in Weeks 2 and 4. Here is the complete list of Edo-period era names for your convenience:

Start Era name English   Start Era name English
1596 慶長 Keichō   1744 延享 Enkyō
1615 元和 Genna   1748 寛延 Kan’en
1624 寛永 Kan’ei   1751 宝暦 Hōreki
1644 正保 Shōhō   1764 明和 Meiwa
1648 慶安 Keian   1772 安永 An’ei
1652 承応 Jōō   1781 天明 Tenmei
1655 明暦 Meireki   1789 寛政 Kansei
1658 万治 Manji   1801 享和 Kyōwa
1661 寛文 Kanbun   1804 文化 Bunka
1673 延宝 Enpō   1818 文政 Bunsei
1681 天和 Tenna   1830 天保 Tenpō
1684 貞享 Jōkyō   1844 弘化 Kōka
1688 元禄 Genroku   1848 嘉永 Kaei
1704 宝永 Hōei   1854 安政 Ansei
1711 正徳 Shōtoku   1860 万延 Man’en
1716 享保 Kyōhō   1861 文久 Bunkyū
1736 元文 Genbun   1864 元治 Genji
1741 寛保 Kanpō   1865 慶応 Keiō

Chinese History Overview

This is a list of the main periods in Chinese history. This may also be a useful reference as we proceed in the course as many of the books we will discuss were written in China.

Period Name of Era Name of Era
1046 - 256 BCE Zhou
480 - 221 BCE Warring States 戦国時代
221 - 206 BCE Qin
206 BC - 8 CE Former Han 前漢
8 - 23 CE Xin
25 - Early 3rd period Later Han 後漢
Early 3rd period - Late 3rd period Period of Three Kingdoms 三国時代
265 - 316 Jin, Western Jin 晋(西晋)
317 - 420 Jin, Eastern Jin 晋(東晋)
304 - 439 Period of the Sixteen Kingdoms 五胡十六国時代
439 - 589 Period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties 南北朝時代
581 - 618 Suí
618 - 907 Táng
907 - 960 Period of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms 五代十国時代
960 - 1127 Northern Song 北宋
1127 - 1279 Southern Song 南宋
1271 - 1368 Yuan
1368 - 1644 Ming
1644 - 1912 Qing

Korean History Overview

This is a list of the main periods in Korean history. Many books came to Japan from or through Korea.

Period Name of Era Name of Era
- 108 BC Old Choseon 古朝鮮
57 BC - 935 Silla 新羅
18 BC - 660 Baekje 百済
37 BC - 668 Goguryeo 高句麗
918 - 1392 Goryeo 高麗
1392 - 1910 Joseon 李氏朝鮮

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This article is from the free online course:

Sino-Japanese Interactions Through Rare Books

Keio University