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        The earliest people known to live on the Japanese islands 30,000 years ago. These people lived by hunting and gathering. They made tools out of stone. During this time people lived in small villages with only about 50 people. They hunted deer and boar, they fished  and also gathered berries and nuts. These people were called the Ainu. About the time of 300 B.C. these people learned new ideas and obtained new technologies from interaction with bordering Korea and China. 

    With this new found technology the Japanese people were allowed to grow rice in fields that were irrigated. They soon started larger communities fields or paddies. They also started to create more advanced tools made of iron and bronze. 

    Near the end of 300 A.D. extended families began a struggle for power in the Yamato Plain. These plains lie south of what is now modern Kyoto. During the time of 300-710 A.D. as the Kofun era. During this period of time warfare became an important part of the society. In the 600's and 700's, Chinese influence became very important. One of Japan's large family groups began to dominate others. They then declared themselves Japan's imperial household. By tradition the imperial family had no last or family name. In  645 A.D. Japan had its first emperor who's .  name was Kotoku.


    The next year, 646, the imperial family introduced a new program called the Taika reform. This program would involve constructing capital cities and helping too organize the Japanese society after the example of China. In this the imperial family made a central government with official bureaus. They also adopted a system which gave a new land management. In this system many of the citizens labored as farmers, they would also serve in small armies.

    In order to justify its claims, the imperial family did not rely on China, but on ancient Japanese beliefs. Japanese histories written in the 700's maintain that the family had descended from the gods who created the Japanese island and Japanese mythology. The family's presumed decent was through Amaterasu goddess of the sun Japanese mythology. 

    Heian era. In 794 the imperial household moved to a new capital cities called Heian-Kyo it was located at the site of today's Kyoto. During in the next 400 years Heian-kyo would be the center of Japans government and  nobility.    

    During the Heian era, a male in the imperial household ruled as the emperor. In the noble families the male heads help the emperor by administering the government maintaining small armies, judging legal disputes, an collecting tax revenues. These officials lived in very large mansions in the capitol city. They also earn very large incomes. In their leisure time these nobles write poetry and observe nature. Woman who were members of the nobility  were barred from holding office along time ago. Woman also produced the era's most famous writings including The Tale of Genji.

   For more information on Japan go to your local library and look up a book about Japan.

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