|Early Japan (until 710)
During the Jomon Period (13000 BC to 300 BC), the inhabitants of the
Japanese islands were gatherers, fishers and hunters. Jomon is the name of
the era's pottery.
During the Yayoi Period (300 BC to 300 AD), the rice culture was
imported into Japan around 100 BC. With the introduction of agriculture,
social classes started to evolve, and parts of the country began to unite
under powerful land owners. Chinese travellers during the Han and Wei
dynasties reported that a queen called Himiko (or Pimiku) reigned over
Japan at that time. The Yayoi period brought also the introduction of iron
and other modern ideas from Korea into Japan. Again, its pottery gave the
period its name.
By the beginning of the Kofun Period (300 - 538), a center of power had
developed in the fertile Kinai plain, and by about 400 AD the country was
united as Yamato Japan with its political center in and around the province
of Yamato (about today's Nara prefecture). The period's name comes from
the large tombs (kofun) that were built for the political leaders of that era.
Yamato Japan extended from Kyushu to the Kinai plain, but did not yet
include the Kanto, Tohoku and Hokkaido.
The emperor was ruler of Yamato Japan and resided in a capital that was
moved frequently from one city to another. However, the Soga clan soon
took over the actual political power, resulting in the fact that most of the
emperors only acted as the symbol of the state and performed Shinto