Ancient Japan Facts for Kids – 5 Amazing Facts about Ancient Japan

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Do you like sushi?! Let’s discover five amazing ancient Japan facts for kids.

Ancient Japan Facts for Kids Fact Number 1: The Religion and The Geography of Japan

From the year 675 AD until the year 1872 AD it was illegal and very frowned upon to eat meat from land animals in Japan. This was because of religion and the geography of Japan.

Japan is an island state surrounded by the sea, their cuisine includes a lot of fish so they can get nutrition without eating land animals such as cows and chickens.

The religious reason for not eating meat was from Buddhism. One belief in the Buddhist faith is that people can be re-born after death as animals. This means they believed that if you ate animals you could be eating the spirit of your ancestor. So, they did not want to eat animals.

The emperor put an end to the ban on eating meat in 1872 after 1212 years as he himself ate beef.

Ancient Japan Facts for Kids LearningMole
Grilled meat dish served on white plate

Ancient Japan Facts for Kids Fact Number 2: Sushi

Sushi is a really popular food all over the world and it was made by accident. The Ancient Japanese people ate a lot of fish and wanted to preserve it for a long time. They wrapped the fish in rice which was soaked in vinegar. This kept the fish from rotting but made the rice very sour and not appealing.

As the Japanese people caught more fish they needed to store it for less time. People tried the rice and started to like the rice that was soaked in vinegar as it was fresher. Eventually people liked it so much that they started serving fresh fish with rice and vinegar wrapped in seaweed and that is how we got sushi.

Ancient Japan Facts for Kids
Ancient Japan Facts for Kids: Sushi on brown wooden board

Ancient Japan Facts for Kids Fact Number 3: The Samurai

The Samurai were a class of warriors that existed from Ancient Japan up until the 19th century. They fought with a strict honour code about loyalty and bravery that they followed when they fought. The Samurai once ran a whole government of Japan called the Shogunate but later given less power and were paid by wealthy people to work as bodyguards.

Ancient Japan Facts for Kids Fact Number 4: Tokyo

The Capital city of Japan is Tokyo and it has been the capital for over 150 years. When Tokyo was first made the capital is was called Edo. It became the capital because the emperor of Japan moved there. In Japan’s history there were a lot of times when the emperor was decided through war. When an emperor won his title the place he ruled from became the capital. This stopped when Edo became the capital in 1868.

Ancient Japan Facts for Kids LearningMole
Red and brown castle landscape photography

Ancient Japan Facts for Kids Fact Number 5: The First Novel

The first novel ever written is believed to be The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu. She wrote the book in chapters and shared it with other noble women so they could enjoy it too. It is a romance novel and tells the story of Genji’s life. Unlike novels today the tale was written on paper that was folded back and forth like an accordion. It was not bound together like a book because it was to be shared with other people to read it as it was written. It sounds like the world’s first book club. 

Ancient Japan Facts for Kids LearningMole
Ancient Japan Facts for Kids: Labeled book lot

We hope you enjoyed learning more things about ancient Japan as much as we loved teaching you about them. Now that you know how majestic this period of time is, you can move on to learn about ancient civilizations like: Tudors, The Anglo Saxons, Vikings, Celts, Ancient China and Egyptians

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