It is the object of this book to trace the story of Japan from its beginnings to the establishment of constitutional government. Concerned as this story is with the period of vague and legendary antiquity as well as with the disorders of mediæval time and with centuries of seclusion, it is plain that it is not an easy task to present a trustworthy and connected account of the momentous changes through which the empire has been called to pass. It would be impossible to state in detail the sources from which I have derived the material for this work. I place first and as most important a residence of several years in Japan, during which I became familiar with the character of the Japanese people and with the traditions and events of their history. Most of the works treating of Japan during and prior to the period of her seclusion, as well as the more recent works, I have had occasion to consult. They will be found referred to in the following pages. Beyond all others, however, I desire to acknowledge my obligations to the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan. A list of the contributors to these transactions would include such names as Satow, Aston, Chamberlain, McClatchie, Gubbins, Geerts, Milne, Whitney, Wigmore and others, whose investigations have made possible a reasonably complete knowledge of Japan. The Transactions of the German Asiatic Society are scarcely less noteworthy than those of her sister society. To these invaluable sources of information are to be added Chamberlain's Things Japanese, Rein's Japan and the Industries of Japan, Griffis' Mikado's Empire, Mounsey's Satsuma Rebellion, Dening's Life of Hideyoshi, the published papers of Professor E. S. Morse, and the two handbooks prepared successively by Mr. Satow and Mr. Chamberlain.