Japan starts off rather isolated and cut off from the rest of the world. Initially confined to the island of Japan, you will discover that the country is somewhat divided: to the north, lies Ezo while Kyushu to the south guards the main routes across the Yellow Sea. The Japanese campaign is extra-hard because as the fledgling Ashikaga government, your nation is split apart between your capital on the main island of Japan and factions friendly to the descendents of Go-Daigo to the south who are prevalent on Kyushu. Although Ezo is typified by having several smaller city-states ruling different parts of the island, Kyushu is directly under the thumb of the southerners, making them tougher to beat. Even so, Japan is isolated by the Yellow Sea, and an enemy must invade either from the north or from the south, protecting your home islands should not be too big a problem, but isolation can prove to be problematic if you need to expand westward and either China, Chagatai, or Russia have occupied all of continental Asia.
West of Japan lies Korea - if you can consolidate your rule in Ezo nd Korea, you can now begin the conquest of Asia: capture the Chinese-influenced Korean states and unite them with your own, as they control important resources and a supply centre, boosting the number of armies you possess to three, and making overruns of north Asia possible. Further resources can be obtained throughout Northern Asia: Manchuria grants falcons, which bestows a bonus on villagers, while the Northern Steppes' mainly pastoral economy also grants some boons to help in research. It is however possible that either the Chinese or the Chagatai will stop you, depending of if and when one side eliminates the other. Alternatively, you could build up your power base and ally with either one faction to swing power in your favour. Be wary of the Turks, though, if they choose to return to conquer the lands of their birth. Should the Turks return, you will be facing threats from all sides, although it can be expected that the Turks may choose to vie with the Chagatai and the Chinese.
Alternatively, you could go and instead seek a conquest of the Arctic Circle. The Russians, Chagatai and Chinese are all too far to move in, so if you are brave enough, you could try and expand into Northern Asia and claim the area as your own. Furthermore, the many Mongols of Northern Asia could be assimilated into your own civilisation to create a massive and powerful empire, so you could consider taking over there. Beware, however, for the locals are highly hostile and will do anything to resist your forces.
Sphere of influence
Japan, being Ezo, Kyushu, Bakjae and Japan.
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