First, a note about the required division of Japanese history into ``Periods.'' Reality alert: Just because you can divide your own life into periods--such as childhood, high school, and middle-age for example--does that mean that who and what you are / were changed drastically on the first day of your college career? Probably not. Did puberty overtake you in a day and suddenly you were an adult? My condolences if it did. The point is that even though historians love to divide the past into all sorts of periods, that doesn't mean that anything changed suddenly for the majority of the people. Nor does it mean that nothing changed. Periods are conveniences; ways of breaking several thousands of years into easily digested pieces. For that reason, I have elected to divide the chapters in this book along lines of generally recognized periods of Japanese history. This is, of course, not the only way this could be done.