Episode 504 – The Great Change

Part four of our Revised Introduction to Japanese History is all about the Taika Reforms of 645 CE: what drove them, why do they matter, and why does the more traditional answer to those questions leave some important gaps in our understanding?


Mitsusada, Inoue. “The Century of Reform”, in The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol 1: Ancient Japan

Fuqua, Douglass. “Centralization and State Formation in Sixth- and Seventh-century Japan” and Bruce L. Batten, “Early Japan and the Continent” in  Japan Emerging: Premodern History to 1850. ed. Karl Friday

The JHTI Nihon Shoki translation


Among his many honors, Emperor Tenji also wrote the very first poem of the poetic compilation Hyakunin Isshu. Here it is presented in an illustrated card from the Edo period.
A painting of Nakatomi no Kamatari and his two sons (his more important, Fujiwara no Fuhito, is on the left). From the Nara National Museum.
Middle Edo period (~1700) scroll painting of the assassination of Soga no Iruka in 645 CE by Prince Naka no Oe/Emperor Tenji.
The stone walls of Onojo, a fortress built in Dazaifu in Kyushu (now Fukuoka) in the 660s. The fortifications were constructed to protect Kyushu from potential Tang dynasty invasion (though the invasion never materialized).