Japan: medieval era migrations
Published Online: 4 FEB 2013
Copyright © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.
The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration
How to Cite
Vollmer, K. 2013. Japan: medieval era migrations. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .
- Published Online: 4 FEB 2013
In accounts of Japanese history and of contemporary Japanese culture and society the fact that Japan is an island country is often very much emphasized. Discourses on “Japanese uniqueness” which form the bulk of highly popular and very prolific so-called nihonron (discourses on Japan) highlight the consequences of this alleged geographical isolation: Japanese society and culture are portrayed as being ethnically and socially homogeneous due to a long history of isolation which resulted in a peculiar cultural development allegedly “undisturbed” by much external influence. In contrast to the history of mainland northeast Asia or continental Eurasia, with their extensive record of invasions and large-scale migration, this narrative points to the period of “closed country” (sakoku in Japanese) from the mid-17th through the mid-19th century as Japan's somewhat archetypical experience. In these 200 or so years which correspond to Japan's early modern period foreign relations were strictly regulated and severely limited: foreigners were not allowed to enter the country and no Japanese was allowed to travel abroad.