What Are Some Ancient Japanese Inventions?

Japanese inventions from ancient times include pottery, mass media and the novel in its modern form. Each represents a unique contribution to world history and culture.

Pottery was invented by the Jomon, a group of people who lived in ancient Japan as well as in Korea and China. They lived during the last Ice Age, about 14,000 years ago. While they were nomadic tribes, Japan’s fertile land and abundant supply of food meant they could live in the same area for extended periods of time, and therefore create relatively fragile pottery.

Printing was invented in Korea in about 750 A.D., and in 768 A.D. the Buddhist Japanese empress Nara commissioned the first mass media printing, a reputed one million copies of a charm or prayer. The project is said to have taken 6 years to complete, and many copies still survive to the modern day.

A widowed Japanese noblewoman known as Murasaki Shikibu wrote the world’s first novel in around 1010 A.D. Little is known about her, including her exact name, with “Murasaki” being the heroine of the novel, and “Shikibu” her father’s professional title. “Genji Monogatari,” or “The Tale of Genji,” is an imaginative novel about the titular character, a dashing, romantic courtier.