Yamato period

The Yamato period (大和時代, Yamato-jidai) is the period of Japanese history when the Japanese Imperial court ruled from modern-day Nara Prefecture, then known as Yamato Province.

While conventionally assigned to the period 250–710, including both the Kofun period (c. 250–538) and the Asuka period (538–710), the actual start of Yamato rule is disputed. The Yamato court's supremacy was challenged during the Kofun period by other polities centered in various parts of Japan. What is certain is that Yamato clans had major advantages over their neighbouring clans in the 6th century.

This period is divided into the Kofun and Asuka periods, by the relocation of the capital to Asuka, in modern Nara Prefecture. However, the Kofun period is an archaeological period while the Asuka period is a historical period. Therefore, many think this as an old division and this concept of period division is no longer popular in Japan.

At the era of Prince Shōtoku in the early 7th century, a new constitution was prescribed for Japan based on the Chinese model. After the fall of Baekje (660 AD), the Yamato government sent envoys directly to the Chinese court, from which they obtained a great wealth of philosophical and social structure. In addition to ethics and government, they also adopted the Chinese calendar and many of its religious practices, including Confucianism and Taoism (Japanese: Onmyo).

Background of Yamato society and culture

Yamato, in the 7th century

A millennium earlier, the Japanese archipelago had been inhabited by the Jōmon people. In the centuries prior to the beginning of the Yamato period, elements of the Northeast Asian and Chinese civilizations had been introduced to the Japanese Archipelago in waves of migration. According to Kojiki, the oldest record of Japan, a Korean immigrant named Amenohiboko, prince of Silla came to Japan to serve the Japanese Emperor,[1] and he lived in Tajima Province. His descendant is believed to be Tajimamori.[clarification needed][2] Archaeological evidence indicates contacts between China, Korea, and Japan since prehistory of the Neolithic period, and its continuation also at least in the Kofun period.

The rice-growing, politically-fragmented Yayoi culture either evolved into the new Japanese culture characterized by the more centralized, patriarchal, militaristic Kofun period or came to be dominated and eventually overrun by Yamato society.

By this time, Japonic had also spread to the Ryukyu Islands such as Okinawa. The Ryukyuan languages and Japanese most likely diverged during this period.[3]