Faction Overview Japan in Rise of Chivalry Japan in Renovatio Europam
The Japanese have the power of Bushido. They replace the Romans.

Faction Type: Asian
National Bonuses:

  • Forts 50% cheaper, built 25% faster and available from the start.
  • Fort research is free
  • Forts exert +3 bonus on national borders
  • Heavy infantry created 10% cheaper and 10% faster
  • Start with 1 level of Military Technology already researched
  • Cities gather +15 wealth
  • Receive free heavy infantry every time a New barrack is built:
    • 1 at Dark Age;
    • 2 with Castle Age plus 3 Military Research; and
    • 3 with Imperial Era plus 5 military research.


Unique Units:
  • Imperial Legate [2] => Monomi [3]
  • Suicide Soldier [1] => Conscript Swordsman [2] => Naginata Ashigaru [3]
  • Shōen Retainers [1]
  • Retinue Saburai [3] Espadachine-level warrior that is trained from the Castle
  • Saburai Cavalry [3] a heavy cavalry unit that is less troublesome to research and upgrade
  • Saburai Archers [3]
  • Foot Saburai [2]
  • Tower Ship [1] => War Junk [2] => South Sea Barque [3]
  • Covered Swooper [3]
  • (Japan can't create gunpowder units)


Unique buildings:
  • Dojo (Academy)
  • Imperial City
  • Bastion
  • Angkor Wat (wonder)
  • Bamiyan Buddhas (wonder)
  • Confucian Academy (wonder)
  • Porcelain Tower (wonder)

Unique technologies:

  • Imperial Mandate

Suggestions and spoilersEdit

  • Strengths: Highly versatile faction with a variegated army, unit research is faster than other factions, good border rusher.
  • Weaknesses: Incapable of retraining most units, high dependence on Nobles' Court for its best units, lack of good siege weapons after the Imperial Era, no advanced light cavalry component.

Japan is a fairly oddball civilisation to play, given the strange idiosyncracies present in the history of Japanese military culture. Because of its isolated position, its units also reflect those idiosyncracies well.

The first thing to note about Japan is its highly variegated army. It obtains the same light infantry units like its Asian counterparts China and Mongolia, but has a very unique set of infantry, cavalry and mercenaries. Around half of its late-game units require the researching of Imperial Mandate, fairly much the same way as how European nations require Centralisation to reach the majority of their units (with the exception of a few).

Unlike other factions where cavalry and infantry are concentrated in one area, Japan's troops are divided into a mainstream force that come from normal recruitment centres and an elite corps from the Nobles' Court. The Japanese military machine is dominated by the landed warrior aristocracy, which comes from two areas: the Barracks (later the Dojo) and the Nobles' Court. The first unique unit, the Ronin Archer, is a mercenary unit recruitable in the Dark Age and is a weak but easily recruited bowman which can stand alongside your stronger Archers. However, this is not the strongest unit, but only the weakest. This is followed later by a better mercenary unit, the Bow Ashigaru, and the Shōen Retainers, which are Dark Age spear unit with lower metal costs in lieu of food, and finally the Naginata Ashigaru, which is in fact akin to an Espadachine with splash attack from the Barracks. The best part about the Shōen Retainers is that Japan can often summon many of them with each barracks constructed, so these units can be banked and the metal and food outlays for them expended elsewhere.

Japan's army however is deficient in two areas: cavalry, gunpowder units and fortifications. Until the Imperial Era, her melee cavalry are extremely weak, the only Castle Age cavalry unit, the Saburai Archer, with its slow but far-ranged attack, being recruited from the Nobles' Court in the Castle Age. This however is soon joined by several other units: Foot Saburai, bearing yari pikes, and with Imperial Mandata researched, katana Saburai infantry, and Saburai Cavalry sporting dachi and naginata. Beyond these units, however, Japan will be forced to use Dark Age era lancers, light horses and cavalry archers, being much weaker than most other units from successive ages, are still fairly cheaper and less difficult to train. Japan's Forts do not raise gunpowder units whatsoever — whatever gunpowder units you need will have to be obtained from the Outpost, those units being the Ribault and the Mercenary Artillerist which, while being fast to equip, may be not as powerful as other factions' Castle siege units. If all else fails, Japan's cheaper castles might be your last ine of defence.

Units aside, the Japanese, being a nation increasingly at war with one another, is a master of fortification and self-sufficiency: cheaper castles, enhanced military technology levels and wealth-generating cities all lend themselves to building a nation that is self-sufficient and capable of defending itself. This ability to retain flexibility with many choices also means that Japan's military is as well-balanced as it is complex, especially given the exorbitant timber costs associated with the War Junk line: it can select the right mix of units (unlike timber-dependent China) on land, while its ability to scrounge on metal means better production of heavy ships and units, or an ability to turtle and do a wonder rush (all Asian factions are better wonder rushers than other factions). Japan's only problem might be its weak Castle Age: ships aside, its cavalry is weaker even than that of China until it can muster its 3 advanced units: Saburai Cavalry and Retainers, and Naginata Ashigaru which can still be easily be broken apart by other cavalry, especially the Mongol unique units. Furthermore, the heavily reliance of Japan on the Nobles' Court to obtain its strongest unique units means that the number of samurai units it can summon on the field is very limited — whereas Europeans can create their best units anywhere, Japanese Saburai with the exception of its Castle-based Retinue Saburai can only be created in your largest cities, and you can only create one unit per city at a time.

Weighing all these options, it can best be said that no one strategy suits Japan best, and will have to be tailored according to conditions, and a player will have to pay attention to what his or her opponent builds. Some hints are as follows:

  • Turks: in the early game, use the cheaper Ronin Archers to negate the heavy archers, and protect them with Shōen Retainers and Saburai from cavalry attacks. Use your cheaper castles to deny the Turks ground for their cities.
  • Mongols: build plenty of forts, and fill them with Saburai and Scorpions to take out Mongol cavalry.
  • England: a combination of mercenary archers and conscripts should be capable enough to absorb and destroy any longbow formations, aided by Lancers and Saburai.
  • Spain: Saburai Archers and Bow Ashigaru can fend off jinetes, and Monomi can be sent to eliminate Christian chivalric order units to weaken an enemy's ranks.

Faction summaryEdit

  • Highly militarised civ, capable of supporting a large variety of units.
  • Upper Crust — Once you arrive in the Castle Age, get out a Nobles' Court as soon as you can - you will be heavily dependent on Saburai Archers to give your units long-range fire.
  • Fortitude — Boost any tax gains that you have by building forts to increase percentage of territory controlled. Wealth is key for Japan's gunpowder and archer mercenaries.
  • Ronin — Screen your forces with your cheaper mercenaries against archer-heavy civs, such as England, Poland or China.
  • Ain't No Wall High Enough — Despite their low rate of fire, Saburai Archers have decent speed (for a cavalryman) and the long reach of their bows means that Japan can rake an enemy's towers with few problems.
  • Bushi — Free spawning heavy infantry means more archers, since each barracks built means more metal and food saved on units.
  • I Don't Like To Slay Alone — Consider training siege weapons to complement your troops.
  • Spy Hard — Monomi are the game's most powerful agent units, due to their abilities. Consider keeping a retinue of them at all times.
  • BANZAI!!! — A powerful rush strategy can be achieved using your cheaper and free-spawning Shōen Retainers and dirt-cheap suicide soldiers and archers. Utilise the offensive power of your infantry to complement a light infantry banzai charge.

Settlements: Kyoto; Nara; Nagoya; Osaka; Fushimi; Himeji; Hirado; Hiraizumi; Hirosaki; Ise; Izumo; Kanazawa; Kokura; Kobe; Kumamoto; Matsue; Matsumoto; Matsuyama; Mito; Miyakonojo; Niigata; Noshiro; Odawara; Ogaki; Otsu; Sakai; Sendai; Shimoda; Shimonoseki; Takamatsu; Tokushima; Uraga; Uwajima; Yamaguchi; Yokohama; Yonago; Yonezawa

Leaders: Gemmei, Moriyoshi, Narinaga, Oda Nobunaga, Ashikaga Takauji, Minamoto no Yoritomo, Kanmu, Taira no Masakado, Fujiwara no Sumitomo, Fujiwara no Michinaga

Best age(s): Dark and Imperial


By the early 8th century, Japan was a unified and peaceful nation, with its capital of Nara a thriving urban and business centre, with strong times to Tang China. Peace and prosperity would continue well after the "Nara period" (when the Japanese sovereigns ruled from Nara) but in the late 9th century, decentralisation, corruption and economic collapse began to take its toll, and as the central government, now based at Heian (present-day Kyoto) weakened, feudalisation and a return to self-sufficient agrarianism began to take hold in Japan, leading to political power being usurped by local strongmen who eventually coalesced into a military aristocracy headed by military dictators called Shogun. Although Japan experienced some recovery and even renewed prosperity under the Kamakura and Ashikaga shogunates, a new breed of warrior caste, the saburai, would continue to dominate Japan and her history for at least six centuries thereafter.

Heian periodEdit

The so-called Heian (in Japanese, "peace and tranquility") period began when the capital of the Empire was moved from Nara to a new city near Heian in 794 CE, located some 26 km north of Nara. This new city would be renamed Kyoto (meaning "capital city") by the end of the 11th century. It was at this time that Japan began to write its own official histories, as well as, many of its other literary monuments, while Buddhism was also established as the official state religion.

During this era, the Japanese continued to annex the non-Japanese peoples to the north and south. Emperor Kammu was appointed Shogun to accomplish this task and by 801 CE gained total control of the main Japanese isle of Honshu. While Imperial succession was ensured much of the actual power was held by one of the noble families. The Fujiwara clan was to take control after Kammu's death in 806 CE. With the Tang dynasty in decline in China, however, Chinese-style central authority also became disfavoured, and Japan developed a more parochial approach to foreign affairs with the last official mission to China in 838 CE.

Despite the power struggles between the Fujiwara and their peers, the Minamoto and the Taira, Japanese culture was flowering throughout this time. The Chinese kanji system which Japanese writing had depended on began to be supplemented with two phonetic scripts called katakana and hiragana, which gave spoken Japanese a written form. This also opened the door to court women to produce literary works as previously only males had been educated to use the Chinese kanji system of writing. Some famous works during this time was the Genji Monogatari, or "The Tale of Genji" and Makura no Soshi, or "Pillow Book", both of which were written by female Heian courtiers.

Rise of the SamuraiEdit


"I really think that among barbarous nations there can be none that has more natural goodness than the Japanese. [...] Honour with them is placed above everything else. There are a great many poor among them, but poverty is not a disgrace to any one. [...] The nobles, however poor they may be, receive the same honour from the rest as if they were rich."

— St Francis Xavier

The growing decentralised nature of Japan, also saw the rise of a military class called the saburai (or later, samurai), who followed bushido, or the "way ('-do') of the warrior ('bushi')", and soon the saburai became the mainstay of provincial and local power holders, and even civil and religious institutions had independent control of private saburai guard units to protect themselves. Several saburai clans naturally arose to prominence. The period between the 8th century until the 12th century saw the Fujiwara, the Taira and the Minamoto clans vying for control and power over Japan and over one another. By 1185 the Minamoto clan emerged as strongest of the three, signaling the Kamakura period, named after their headquarters in Kamakura in the northern part of Japan's main island, south-west of modern Tokyo. This period essentially made official the role of Saburai in politics for the next 700 years where the Emperors based in Kyoto were no more then figureheads relegated to ceremonial functions, while civil, military, and judicial functions were exercised by Saburai class, with the most powerful Saburai clan being the de factor ruler, the head of which was given the title shogun (in Japanese, "general" or "warlord").

Fall of the MinamotoEdit

The Minamoto did not continue to hold power for long, and by 1199 lost power to the Hojo Clan which was a branch of the Taira Clan. Under the Hojo clan the military governing body known as the bakufu in turn also became ineffectual, making the title of shogun a purely ceremonial one as well. The title was passed to many different people including members of the Fujiwara clan or even to Imperial Princes until 1221, when the Hojo clan that was supposed to be the official protector of the Imperial family went to war against them to regain power. However they managed to reform the governing body to allow other military lords to exercise judicial and legislative power at Kamakura with the Hojo presiding over a council of these lords. Military law was codified known as the joei code and Japan fell under official martial law.


In the late 13th century the Mongols who had established the Yuan Dynasty in China turned their attention towards Japan, demanding tribute from Japan but were steadfastly refused. The Yuan Emperor Kublai Khan ordered an invasion of Japan in 1274, consisting of 600 ships, and a force of 23,000 troops of mixed Mongol, Chinese and Korean origins, along with siege engines and early rocket artillery. In battle these troops fought in close cavalry formations, in contrast to the strict bushido code of honoured single combat. The Japanese fought bravely but couldn't really defend themselves against this massive force fighting in a way alien to them. It was a miracle that after the first day of fighting that a typhoon swept in, and wrecked the invaders' ships. Seven years later, the Mongols would attempt a second invasion, this time fighting lasted for seven weeks as the Japanese no longer stuck to their practice of single combat against these foreigners until again a typhoon struck, destroying the Mongol fleet. The Shinto priests attributed the Mongols' defeat to the typhoon and pronounced its divine nature. Yet, the war against the Mongols had cost a lot economically. There were not enough rewards to go around to the clans that helped contributed to the defence of Japan, and civil war eventually broke out. The Emperor Go-Daigo eventually emerged victorious over the previous Hojo government intent on reviving imperial authority and Confucian practices, but in turn was defeated by the Ashikaga clan in 1336. However, Go-Daigo would flee Kyoto to establish a separate Imperial court south, while the Ashikaga clan installed their choice for emperor from a rival line. This dual existence of Imperial courts was to last for over the next 50 years.

Sengoku JidaiEdit

The Ashikaga clan ushered in the Muromachi period during which Zen Buddhism developed. Trade with the Ming Chinese was established, sowing the seeds of Japanese cultural and economic development. By the middle of the 16th century, however, the Ashikaga government lost control of Japan. Once more, the provincial lords called Daimyo who had exerted the actual control over the regions began to fight with each other in what became known as the Sengoku Jidai or Age of the Civil Wars.