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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 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 Japan from the Nara to the later Sengoku periods, the latter of which was dominated by the powerful regional families (daimyō) and the military rule of warlords (shōgun).

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 also return in Age of Empires IV: The Sultans Ascend, which much like this version of the Japanese, covers the medieval era of Japan.


Unique unit[]

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

Unique technologies[]

Civilization bonuses[]

Team bonus[]

Galleys have a +50% longer Line of Sight.


The Japanese are an infantry civilization and command what is the most deadly infantry of any civilization, with all upgrades available plus a faster attack rate on their infantry, effectively giving them +33% attack, including bonus damage. The Japanese also have fully upgradable archers, including Cavalry Archers that deal +2 damage to all archers except Skirmishers. Kataparuto makes their Trebuchets much more powerful, as not only do they fire faster, they are significantly more mobile as their pack/unpack time was reduced. Their navy is solid, the absence of Heavy Demolition Ships being compensated by longer-sighted and fully upgradable Galleons. Their Monks are very good as well, with all technologies available. Yasama gives them arguably the best Keeps in the game, increasing the damage output of Japanese towers significantly. They have one of the best fishing economies on maps with fish as their Fishing Ships not only fish faster but are significantly more durable, a bonus that is especially important due to the lack of walling on water. Their land economy is worse, but still decent due to their discounted drop-off buildings.

However, the Japanese have several weaknesses. While their Knights are perfectly viable in the Castle Age, their cavalry options in the late game are poor without the Hussar or Plate Mail Armor. Their Siege Workshop units are unremarkable as well, missing Bombard Cannons, Siege Rams, and Siege Onagers. Both of these combined means that the Japanese can struggle to make an offensive push.

Overall, the Japanese are a civilization with a solid variety of options. 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 make them a beginner-friendly civilization to learn how to play in water maps.


AoE2-DLCicon-1 The Conquerors[]

  • Infantry attack speed standardized to 33% from the Feudal Age (from 11%/18%/33% in the Feudal/Castle/Imperial Age).
  • Kataparuto introduced.
  • (Elite) Samurai receive several buffs:
    • Train time reduced by 5 seconds (16 → 9 seconds).
    • Base pierce armor increased by 1 (0 → 1)
    • Rate of Fire reduced by 0.1 (2.0 → 1.9)
    • Movement speed increased by 0.1 (0.9 → 1).
    • Anti-unique unit attack bonus doubled (+5 (+6) → +10 (+12)).

AoE2-DLCicon-2 The Forgotten[]

AoE2-DLCicon-3 The African Kingdoms[]

  • Yasama's wood cost is reduced by 100 (400 → 300 wood).
  • With patch 4.8:
    • Yasama's extra arrows reduced by 1 (+3 → +2 additional arrows).
    • Treadmill Crane was added to the technology tree.

Dawn of the Dukes icon Dawn of the Dukes[]

  • With update 56005:
    • Non-Elite Samurai gain +10 hit points (60 → 70) and +2 attack (8 → 10).
    • The Elite Samurai upgrade cost was reduced by 200 food, 225 gold (950 food, 875 gold → 750 food, 650 gold).

AoE2Icon-DynastiesIndia Dynasties of India[]

AoE2Icon-MountainRoyals The Mountain Royals[]

Campaign appearances[]

The Japanese have multiple scenarios devoted to their civilization: Kyoto from the Battles of the Conquerors campaign, Kurikara from Battles of the Forgotten, and Shimazu and Nobunaga from Victors and Vanquished. In Kurikara (co-op), both factions are playable as the Japanese. They also appear as the enemy in the Noryang Point scenario from Battles of the Conquerors.

Battles of the Conquerors Icon Battles of the Conquerors[]

The Kyoto scenario is played as the Japanese.

  • Scn 07 kyoto normal Kyoto
    • Osaka - Enemy
    • Kyoto - Enemy
    • Nobunaga - Ally
    • Hyogo - Enemy
  • Scn 08 noryang point normal Noryang Point
    • Japanese Navy - Enemy
    • Japanese Raiders - Enemy

Battles of the Forgotten Icon Battles of the Forgotten[]

The Kurikara scenario is played as the Japanese.

  • Scn 13 kurikara normal Kurikara
    • Hojo Clan* - Ally
    • Yoshinaka - Ally
    • Locals - Ally
    • Taira Warlords - Enemy
    • Taira Guards - Enemy
    • Taira Army - Enemy
    • Kyoto - Enemy

VictorsAndVanquished Campaign Icon Victors and Vanquished[]

Both Nobunaga and Shimazu are played as the Japanese.

  • Scn 38 nobunaga Nobunaga
    • Oda - Playable or Enemy
    • Takeda - Playable or Enemy
    • Uesugi - Playable or Enemy
    • Mori - Playable or Enemy
    • Otomo - Playable or Enemy
    • Chosokabe - Playable or Enemy
    • Kyoto - Ally
  • Scn 37 shimazu Shimazu
    • Itō - Enemy
    • Ryūzōji - Enemy
    • Otomo - Enemy
    • Minor Clans and Pirates - Enemy
    • Shōgun - Ally → Enemy

In-game dialogue language[]

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


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.
  • Fujiwara no Michinaga (藤原道長) (966 – January 3, 1028) A court nobility during the Heian Period. He became the maternal relative of the third generation of Emperors and became the head of the government. Even after handing over the position of regent to his son, he continued to hold real power and established the heyday of regent politics. He was known as "Midō Kanpaku'' (御堂関白) boasting the same power as Kanpaku (関白).
  • Gamo Ujisato (蒲生氏郷): A Japanese daimyō of the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.
  • Hojo 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): The most powerful Daimyo of the Tokaido region and also the Head of Imagawa Clan. He was said to be the one who would unify Japan with his strategy and strength. However, Oda Nobunaga soon outsmarted him and at the decisive battle of Okehazama, he was killed, along with his trusted generals when the Oda Army laid siege to the castle.
  • Kusunoki Masashige (楠木正成): A 14th-century samurai who fought for Emperor Go-Daigo in the Genkō War.
  • Minamoto no 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).
  • Minamoto no Yoshitsune (源義経): A nobleman and military commander of the Minamoto clan of Japan in the late Heian and early Kamakura periods.
  • Mori 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 Dosan (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. He was killed by his son, Saito Yoshitatsu, at the Battle of Nagara River.
  • 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.
  • Taira no 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.




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AoE2-DLCicon-0 The Age of KingsBritons AoE2 Britons · Byzantines AoE2 Byzantines · Celts AoE2 Celts · Chinese AoE2 Chinese · Franks AoE2 Franks · Goths AoE2 Goths · Japanese AoE2 Japanese · Mongols AoE2 Mongols · Persians AoE2 Persians · Saracens AoE2 Saracens · Teutons AoE2 Teutons · Turks AoE2 Turks · Vikings AoE2 Vikings
AoE2-DLCicon-1 The ConquerorsAztecs AoE2 Aztecs · Huns AoE2 Huns · Koreans AoE2 Koreans · Mayans AoE2 Mayans · Spanish AoE2 Spanish
AoE2-DLCicon-2 The ForgottenIncas AoE2 Incas · Indians AoE2 Indians (removed) · Italians AoE2 Italians · Magyars AoE2 Magyars · Slavs AoE2 Slavs
AoE2-DLCicon-3 The African KingdomsBerbers AoE2 Berbers · Ethiopians AoE2 Ethiopians · Malians AoE2 Malians · Portuguese AoE2 Portuguese
AoE2-DLCicon-4 Rise of the RajasBurmese AoE2 Burmese · Khmer AoE2 Khmer · Malay AoE2 Malay · Vietnamese AoE2 Vietnamese
AoE2-DLCicon-5 The Last KhansBulgarians AoE2 Bulgarians · Cumans AoE2 Cumans · Lithuanians AoE2 Lithuanians · Tatars AoE2 Tatars
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