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The beginnings

The earliest settlers according to archaeologists were a tribal people, the Ainu. By and by the Ainu people and their culture were forced to the Northern parts of Japan by the Jomon people (circa 11,000 - ca. 300 BC). Around 660 BC, according to old legends and Chinese chronicles, Jimmu became the first emperor of Japan. Circa 350 BC the Yayoi people invaded Japan. Remnants from this period are pottery vessels and clay figures. Copper and bronze was used for weapons and religious artefacts like bells.

The Kofun period is also called the Tumulus period or Haniwa culture. Haniwa is the name for a typical kind of clay sculptures found on tombs. Other known artifacts from this period are bronze mirrors. In 363 Empress Jingo conquered a part of Korea.

In 552 at the beginning of the Asuka period Buddhism was brought from China to Japan. This had a decisive impact on the development of Japanese arts. It brought the influence of the advanced Chinese culture and new techniques in arts and architecture to Japan. In 604 the first Japanese constitution was introduced. It reflected the idea of the centralized rule exercised in China. By the 7th century Buddhism was fully established in Japan.

In 710 the city of Nara in the province of Yamato became the capital of Japan. During the Nara period - under the influence of Buddhism - Japan assimilated the style of the Chinese Tang dynasty. Many Buddhist temples were constructed - focused around the area of Nara.

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