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This article is about the civilization in Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. For other appearances of the faction in the series, see Japanese.
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On the edge of East Asia, an industrious and vibrant culture built on a strict system of honor and personal virtue blossomed and enthralled contemporary and modern observers alike. Brilliant tacticians led courageous and skilled infantry forces to stunning victories while ascetic monks fostered intellectual growth. The fearsome leaders of your armies are the Samurai, whose sharp blades can cut down even the strongest and proudest among the enemy forces!

The Japanese' civilization music theme in the Definitive Edition

The Japanese are an East Asian civilization in Age of Empires II. They are an infantry-based civilization, with their infantry possessing the fastest attack speed in the game. They are the descendants of the Yamato civilization, which inhabited the same island. The Japanese civilization is based on Feudal Japan which was dominated by the powerful regional families (daimyō) and the military rule of warlords (shōgun) from 1185 to 1868.

Despite the Japanese infantry focus and option for an infantry rush, the Japanese have different options in their tech tree, as they are one of the two civilization to have all important upgrades for their Archery Range units, have a near-complete Monastery tech tree, and even serviceable Castle Age cavalry, despite missing several key Imperial Age upgrades. This makes the Japanese an appealing civilization for players who can transition to other units after their initial infantry rush in the Dark Age or Feudal Age. Their simplistic and straightforward bonuses for their Fishing Ships and Galleys (combined with their cheaper Mills, Lumber Camps, and Mining Camps) also makes them a beginner-friendly civilization to learn how to play in water maps.

The Japanese also appear in Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties as a playable civilization, which covers the Japanese from the late Sengoku period to the Meiji Restoration period.


The Japanese are an infantry civilization and command the strongest infantry of all civilizations with all technologies and upgrades available plus a speed boost for their attacks which results in a very high damage output. The Japanese also have superb archers (including Cavalry Archers) which they can also fully upgrade. Only their cavalry is weak and their siege weapons are underwhelming as well but their Trebuchets greatly benefit from Kataparuto meaning their sieging is still fairly effective. Their navy is excellent, only lacking the Heavy Demolition Ship, but with longer-sighted Galleons and all other improvements at their disposal. Their Monks are very good as well, only lacking Heresy. Their defensive structures and economy are below average, however.

Campaign appearances[]

The Japanese have scenarios devoted to their civilization: Kyoto from the Battles of the Conquerors campaign and Kurikara from Battles of the Forgotten. They also appear as the enemy in the Noryang Point scenario from Battles of the Conquerors.

Battles of the Conquerors[]

The Kyoto scenario is played as the Japanese.

  • Kyoto
    • Osaka - Enemy
    • Kyoto - Enemy
    • Nobunaga - Ally
    • Hyogo - Enemy
  • Noryang Point
    • Japanese Navy - Enemy
    • Japanese Raiders - Enemy

Battles of the Forgotten[]

This battle is played as the Japanese.

  • Kurikara
    • Hojo Clan - Ally
    • Yoshinaka - Ally
    • Locals - Ally
    • Taira Warlords - Enemy
    • Taira Guards - Enemy
    • Taira Army - Enemy
    • Kyoto - Enemy


Unique unit[]

SamuraiIcon-DE.png Samurai: Fast-attacking infantry with an attack bonus against unique units.

Unique technologies[]

CastleAgeUnique.png Yasama: Gives towers extra arrows.
Unique-tech-imperial.jpg Kataparuto: Makes Trebuchets pack, unpack, and fire faster.

Civilization bonuses[]

Team bonus[]

Galleys have a +50% longer Line of Sight.


The Age of Kings[]

  • Infantry attack 11%/18%/33% faster in the Feudal/Castle/Imperial Age
  • Cannot research Gold Shaft Mining.
  • Cannot research Treadmill Crane.
  • Samurai train in 16 seconds
  • Samurai have 0 pierce armor, a Rate of Fire of 2.0, and move at a speed of 0.9
  • Samurai have an attack bonus of +5 (+6 for Elite) against Unique units.
  • Non-Elite Samurai have 60 hit points and 8 attack.
  • The Elite Samurai upgrade costs 950 food, 875 gold.

The Conquerors[]

  • Infantry now attack 33% faster starting in the Feudal Age.
  • Cannot research Bloodlines.
  • Kataparuto introduced.
  • Samurai now train in 9 seconds.
  • Samurai now have 1 pierce armor, a Rate of Fire of 1.9, and move at a speed of 1.
  • Samurai now have an attack bonus of +10 (+12 for Elite) against unique units.

The Forgotten[]

  • Bloodlines added to the technology tree.
  • Gold Shaft Mining added to the technology tree.
  • Yasama introduced. It costs 300F/400W and gives Towers 3 additional arrows.

The African Kingdoms[]

  • Yasama now costs 300F/300W.
  • With patch 4.8, Yasama now gives Towers 2 additional arrows.
  • With patch 4.8, Treadmill Crane was added to the technology tree.

Dawn of the Dukes[]

  • With update 56005, non-Elite Samurai have 70 hit points and 10 attack.
  • With update 56005, the Elite Samurai upgrade costs 750 food, 650 gold.

In-game dialogue language[]

In-game, Japanese villagers and military units speak modern Japanese while Monks and King speak archaicized modern Japanese.

  • Female Select 1 Hai? (はい?) - Yes?
  • Male Select 1 Nani? (何?) - What?
  • Female Select 2 Watashi? (私?) - Me?
  • Male Select 2 Ore? 俺? - Me? (men's speech)
  • Select 3 Ii yo (いいよ) - Alright
  • Female Select 4 Nani? (何?) - What?
  • Male Select 4 Nan da (何だ?) - What is it?
  • Task 1 Hai, hai (はい, はい) - Yes, yes
  • Task 2 Hai (はい) - Yes
  • Task 3 Ikimasu (行きます) - I go
  • Task 4 Wakarimashita (分かりました) - Understood
  • Build Tatemasu (建てます) - I build
  • Chop Ki wo kirimasu (木を切ります) - I cut a tree
  • Farm Tagayashimasu (耕します) - I cultivate
  • Fish Sakana wo torimasu (魚を捕ります) - I catch fish
  • Forage Shūkaku shimasu (収穫します) - I gather
  • Hunt Kari wo shimasu (狩りをします) - I hunt
  • Mine Horimasu (掘ります) - I mine
  • Repair Naoshimasu (直します) - I repair
  • Female Attack Ike! (行け!) - Go! (not used)
  • Male Attack Yattsukero! (やっつけろ!) - Let's defeat them! (not used)
  • Select 1 Ha! (はっ!) - Yes!
  • Select 2 Gyoi ni (御意に) - As you like
  • Select 3 Gomeirei wo (御命令を) - Give me orders
  • Move 1 Iza! (いざ!) - Prepare yourself!
  • Move 2 Ōse no tōri (仰せの通り) - As you say! (literally - "In accordance with your will")
  • Move 3 Shōchi (承知) - I understand
  • Attack 1 Ike! (行け!) - Go!
  • Attack 2 Ikusa ja! (戦じゃ!) - War!
  • Attack 3 Iza, Shōbu! (いざ、勝負!) - Now, to the battle!
  • Attack 4
  • Attack 5
  • Select 1 Nan jana? (何じゃな?) - What is it?
  • Select 2 Yō kana? (用かな?) - How can I be of use?
  • Select 3 Nan naritō (何なりと) - As you wish
  • Move 1 Shōchi (承知) - I understand
  • Move 2 Hai (はい) - Yes
  • Move 3 Mairi mashō (参りましょう) - I'm coming
  • Move 4 Tadaima (只今) - At once
  • Select 1 Nan ja? (何じゃ?) - What is it?
  • Select 2 Nani yō ka? (何用か?) - What is this regarding?
  • Select 3 Kurushu nai (苦しゅうない) - Don't hesitate
  • Select 4 Nozomi wa? (望みは?) - What is your wish?
  • Move 1 Umu (うむ) - Yea
  • Move 2 Yokarō (良かろう) - Very well
  • Move 3 Sō itasō (そう致そう) - I shall do so
  • Move 4 Mairō (参ろう) - I shall go/come

AI player names[]

When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Japanese AI characters:

  • Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏): A founder and first shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate. His rule began in 1338, beginning the Muromachi period of Japan, and ended with his death in 1358.
  • Date Masamune (伊達政宗): A regional strongman of Japan's Azuchi–Momoyama period through early Edō period. He ruled the southern Mutsu in the Tohoku region.
  • Fujiwarano Michinaga (藤原道長 ) (966 – January 3, 1028)
  • Gamou Ujisato (蒲生氏郷): A Japanese daimyō of the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.
  • Hojou Soun (北条早雲): A the first head of the Late Hōjō clan, one of the major powers in Japan's Sengoku period. He is well known for starting a rebellion against Horikoshi Kubo, the local ruler of the Kantō region of the Ashikaga clan, in 1495.
  • Hosokawa Katsumoto (細川勝元): A one of the Kanrei, the Deputies to the Shogun, during Japan's Muromachi period.
  • Imagawa Yoshimoto (今川 義元) (1519 – June 12, 1560)
  • Kusonoki Masashige (楠木正成): A 14th-century samurai who fought for Emperor Go-Daigo in the Genkō War.
  • Minamotono Yoritomo (源 頼朝) (May 9, 1147 – February 9, 1199): The founder and the first shōgun of the Kamakura Shogunate of Japan. He ruled from 1192 until 1199. His Buddhist name was Ogosho Atsushi Dai Zenmon (武皇嘯厚大禅門).
  • Minamotono Yoshitsune (源義経): A nobleman and military commander of the Minamoto clan of Japan in the late Heian and early Kamakura periods.
  • Mouri Motonari (毛利元就): A prominent daimyō in the western Chūgoku region of Japan during the Sengoku period of the 16th century. Famous for starting and winning the Battle of Itsukushima (1555) against the superpower, which was Oouchi at that time.
  • Nitta Yoshisada (新田 義貞): A head of the Nitta clan in the early fourteenth century, and supported the Southern Court of Emperor Go-Daigo in the Nanboku-chō period.
  • Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) (June 23, 1534 – June 21, 1582): A powerful daimyō of Japan in the late 16th century who attempted to unify Japan during the late Sengoku period. Nobunaga is regarded as one of three unifiers of Japan along with his retainers Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. During his later life, Nobunaga was widely known for most brutal suppression of determined opponents, eliminating those who by principle refused to cooperate or yield to his demands. He was both a skilled ruler and keen businessman, economic reformer, strategizing at both the micro- and macroeconomic scales. He was killed when his retainer Akechi Mitsuhide rebelled against him at Honnō-ji.
  • Saito Dousan (斎藤道三): Also known as Saitō Toshimasa, was a Japanese samurai during the Sengoku period. He is famous for his cunning tactics and starting a rebellion and banishing his own lord, Toki Yoriaki, after which he became the ruler of the Mino Province.
  • Sanada Yukimura (真田幸村): Actual name: Sanada Nobushige, was a Japanese samurai warrior of the Sengoku period. He was especially known as the leading general on the defending side of the Siege of Osaka.
  • Tairano Kiyomori (平清盛): A military leader of the late Heian period of Japan. He established the first samurai-dominated administrative government in the history of Japan.
  • Takeda Shingen (武田信玄): A pre-eminent daimyō in feudal Japan with exceptional military prestige in the late stage of the Sengoku period. Based on the Kai Province, he was famous for his 'invincible' Takeda cavalry squad, but accidentally died on his way to Kyoto in 1573. He is nicknamed Tiger of Kai (甲斐の虎) in Japan.
  • Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康): A founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which effectively ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. He is the AI personality of the Japanese in Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties as well one of the characters of the Japanese campaign.
  • Uesugi Kenshin (上杉謙信): A daimyō born in Nagao Kagetora, he was one of the most powerful daimyōs of the Sengoku period and he ruled the Echigo Province. He was famed for his honorable conduct as he made numerous campaigns to restore order in the Kantō region. He died in the same province of esophageal cancer. He is nicknamed God of Military (軍神) or Dragon of Echigo (越後の龍) in Japan.



Located 100 miles off the mainland of Asia, at its closest point, Japan was a land of mystery at the edge of civilization. Isolated at first by geography and later by choice, the Japanese developed a distinctive culture that drew very little from the outside world. At the beginning of what were the Middle Ages in Europe, the advanced culture of Japan was centered at the north end of the Inland Sea on the main island of Honshu. Across the Hakone Mountains to the east lay the Kanto, an alluvial plain that was the single largest rice-growing area on the islands. To the north and east of the Kanto was the frontier, beyond which lived aboriginal Japanese who had occupied the islands since Neolithic times.

Some believe that by the fifth century AD the Yamato court had become largely ceremonial. Independent clans, known as uji, held the real power behind the throne. Clan leaders formed a sort of aristocracy and vied with each other for effective control of land and the throne.

In 536 the Soga clan became predominant and produced the first great historical statesman, Prince Shotoku, who instituted reforms that laid the foundation of Japanese culture for generations to come. In 645, power shifted from the Soga clan to the Fujiwara clan. The Fujiwara presided over most of the Heian period (794 to 1185). The new leadership imposed the Taika Reform of 645, which attempted to redistribute the rice-growing land, establish a tax on agricultural production, and divide the country into provinces. Too much of the country remained outside imperial influence and control, however. Real power shifted to great families that rose to prominence in the rice-growing lands. Conflict among these families led to civil war and the rise of the warrior class.

Similar to the experience of medieval western Europe, the breakdown of central authority in Japan, the rise of powerful local nobles, and conflict with barbarians at the frontier combined to create a culture dominated by a warrior elite. These warriors became known as Samurai, ("those who serve"), who were roughly equivalent to the European knight. A military government replaced the nobility as the power behind the throne at the end of the twelfth century. The head of the military government was the Shogun.

Samurai lived by a code of the warrior, something like the European code of chivalry. The foundation of the warrior code was loyalty to the lord. The warrior expected leadership and protection. In return he obeyed his lord’s commands without question and stood ready to die on his lord’s behalf. A Samurai placed great emphasis on his ancestry and strove to carry on family traditions. He behaved so as to earn praise. He was to be firm and show no cowardice. Warriors went into battle expecting and looking to die. It was felt that a warrior hoping to live would fight poorly.

The Kamakura period (1185 to 1333) was named after a region of Japan dominated by a new ruling clan that took power after civil war. The Mongols attempted to invade Japan twice, in 1274 and 1281, but were repulsed both times. A fortuitous storm caused great loss to the second Mongol invasion fleet.


Video overview[]