Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Yayoi period

Yayoi period

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Yayoi period'
Start a new discussion about 'Yayoi period'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The is an Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 era in the history of Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 traditionally dated 300 BC to 300 AD. It is named after the neighbourhood
Yayoi, Tokyo
Yayoi is a neighborhood in Bunkyo, Tokyo. In 1884, when it was part of Tokyo City, it was the location of a shell mound where a type of pottery was discovered. The pottery became known as Yayoi, and eventually a period of Japanese history assumed the same name.Its population, not including...

 of Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

 where archaeologists
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 first uncovered artifacts and features from that era. Distinguishing characteristics of the Yayoi period include the appearance of new pottery styles and the start of an intensive rice agriculture in paddy field
Paddy field
A paddy field is a flooded parcel of arable land used for growing rice and other semiaquatic crops. Paddy fields are a typical feature of rice farming in east, south and southeast Asia. Paddies can be built into steep hillsides as terraces and adjacent to depressed or steeply sloped features such...

s. The Yayoi followed the Jōmon period
Jomon period
The is the time in Japanese prehistory from about 14,000 BC to 300 BC.The term jōmon means "cord-patterned" in Japanese. This refers to the pottery style characteristic of the Jōmon culture, and which has markings made using sticks with cords wrapped around them...

 (14,000–300 BC) and Yayoi culture flourished in a geographic area from southern Kyūshū
Kyushu
is the third largest island of Japan and most southwesterly of its four main islands. Its alternate ancient names include , , and . The historical regional name is referred to Kyushu and its surrounding islands....

 to northern Honshū
Honshu
is the largest island of Japan. The nation's main island, it is south of Hokkaido across the Tsugaru Strait, north of Shikoku across the Inland Sea, and northeast of Kyushu across the Kanmon Strait...

.

A new study used the accelerator mass spectrometry
Accelerator mass spectrometry
Accelerator mass spectrometry differs from other forms of mass spectrometry in that it accelerates ions to extraordinarily high kinetic energies before mass analysis. The special strength of AMS among the mass spectrometric methods is its power to separate a rare isotope from an abundant...

 method to analyze carbonized remains on pottery and wooden stakes, and discovered that these were dated back to 900–800 BC, 500 years earlier than previously believed.

Features of Yayoi culture



The earliest archaeological evidence of the Yayoi is found on northern Kyūshū
Kyushu
is the third largest island of Japan and most southwesterly of its four main islands. Its alternate ancient names include , , and . The historical regional name is referred to Kyushu and its surrounding islands....

, though this is still debated. Yayoi culture quickly spread to the main island of Honshū mixing with native Jōmon culture. Yayoi pottery
Pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

 was simply decorated, and produced on a potter's wheel
Potter's wheel
In pottery, a potter's wheel is a machine used in asma of round ceramic ware. The wheel may also be used during process of trimming the excess body from dried ware and for applying incised decoration or rings of color...

, as opposed to Jōmon pottery, which was produced by hand. Yayoi craft specialists made bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 ceremonial bells (Dōtaku
Dotaku
are Japanese bells smelted from relatively thin bronze and richly decorated. The oldest dōtaku found date from the 2nd or 3rd century , and were nearly only used as decorations for rituals...

), mirrors, and weapons. By the 1st century AD, Yayoi farmers began using iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 agricultural tools and weapons.

The Yayoi population increased and became richer and poorer, and their society became more complex. They wove textiles, lived in permanent farming villages, and constructed buildings with wood and stone. They also accumulated wealth through land ownership and the storage of grain. These factors promoted the development of distinct social classes. Yayoi chiefs, in some parts of Kyūshū, appear to have sponsored, and politically manipulated, trade in bronze and other prestige objects. This was possible due to the introduction of an irrigated, wet-rice culture from the Yangtze
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

 estuary in southern China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 via the Ryukyu Islands
Ryukyu Islands
The , also known as the , is a chain of islands in the western Pacific, on the eastern limit of the East China Sea and to the southwest of the island of Kyushu in Japan. From about 1829 until the mid 20th century, they were alternately called Luchu, Loochoo, or Lewchew, akin to the Mandarin...

 or Korean Peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

. Wet-rice agriculture led to the development and growth of a sedentary, agrarian society in Japan. Local political and social developments in Japan were more important than the activities of the central authority within a stratified society.

Direct comparisons between Jōmon and Yayoi skeletons show that the two peoples are noticeably distinguishable. The Jōmon tended to be shorter, with relatively longer forearms and lower legs, more wide-set eyes, shorter and wider faces, and much more pronounced facial topography. They also have strikingly raised brow ridges, noses, and nose bridges. Yayoi people, on the other hand, averaged an inch or two taller, with close-set eyes, high and narrow faces, and flat brow ridges and noses. By the Kofun period
Kofun period
The is an era in the history of Japan from around 250 to 538. It follows the Yayoi period. The word kofun is Japanese for the type of burial mounds dating from this era. The Kofun and the subsequent Asuka periods are sometimes referred to collectively as the Yamato period...

, almost all skeletons excavated in Japan, except those of the Ainu
Ainu people
The , also called Aynu, Aino , and in historical texts Ezo , are indigenous people or groups in Japan and Russia. Historically they spoke the Ainu language and related varieties and lived in Hokkaidō, the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin...

 and prehistoric Okinawans, resemble those of modern day Japanese.

Origin of the Yayoi people


The earliest archaeological sites are Itazuke site or Nabata site in the northern part of Kyūshū. The origin of Yayoi culture has long been debated. Chinese influence was obvious in the bronze and copper weapons, dōkyō
Bronze mirror
Bronze mirrors preceded the glass mirrors of today. This type of mirror has been found by archaeologists among elite assemblages from various cultures, from Etruscan Italy to China.-History:-Egypt:...

, dōtaku
Dotaku
are Japanese bells smelted from relatively thin bronze and richly decorated. The oldest dōtaku found date from the 2nd or 3rd century , and were nearly only used as decorations for rituals...

, as well as irrigated paddy rice cultivation. Three major symbols of the Yayoi culture are the bronze mirror, the bronze sword, and the royal seal stone.

In recent years, more archaeological and genetic evidence has been found in both eastern China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and western Japan to lend credibility to this argument. Between 1996 and 1999, a team led by Satoshi Yamaguchi, a researcher at Japan's National Science Museum
National Science Museum of Japan
The is located in the northeast corner of Ueno park in Tokyo. Opened in 1871, the museum has had several names, including Ministry of Education Museum, Tokyo Museum, Tokyo Science Museum, the National Science Museum of Japan, and currently the National Museum of Nature and Science as of 2007...

, compared Yayoi remains found in Japan's Yamaguchi
Yamaguchi Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan in the Chūgoku region on Honshū island. The capital is the city of Yamaguchi, in the center of the prefecture. The largest city, however, is Shimonoseki.- History :...

 and Fukuoka
Fukuoka Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located on Kyūshū Island. The capital is the city of Fukuoka.- History :Fukuoka Prefecture includes the former provinces of Chikugo, Chikuzen, and Buzen....

 prefectures with those from early Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 (202 BC-8) in China's coastal Jiangsu
Jiangsu
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. The name comes from jiang, short for the city of Jiangning , and su, for the city of Suzhou. The abbreviation for this province is "苏" , the second character of its name...

 province, and found many similarities between the skulls and limbs of Yayoi people and the Jiangsu remains. Two Jiangsu skulls showed spots where the front teeth had been pulled, a practice common in Japan in the Yayoi and the preceding Jōmon periods. The genetic samples from three of the 36 Jiangsu skeletons also matched part of the DNA sequences of the Yayoi remains.


Some scholars also concluded that Korean influence existed. These include "bounded paddy fields, new types of polished stone tools, wooden farming implements, iron tools, weaving technology, ceramic storage jars, exterior bonding of clay coils in pottery fabrication, ditched settlements, domesticated pigs, and jawbone rituals." This assumption also gains strength due to the fact that Yayoi culture began on the north coast of Kyūshū, where Japan is closest to Korea. Yayoi pottery, burial mounds, and food preservation were discovered to be very similar to the pottery of southern Korea.

However, some scholars argue that the rapid increase of roughly four million people in Japan between the Jōmon and Yayoi periods cannot be explained by migration alone. They attribute the increase primarily to a shift from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural diet on the islands, with the introduction of rice. It is quite likely that rice cultivation and its subsequent deification allowed for mass population increase. Regardless, there is archaeological evidence that supports the idea that there was an influx of farmers from the continent to Japan that absorbed or overwhelmed the native hunter-gatherer population.

Some pieces of Yayoi pottery clearly show the influence of Jōmon ceramics. In addition, the Yayoi lived in the same type of pit or circular dwelling as that of the Jōmon. Other examples of commonality are chipped stone tools for hunting, bone tools for fishing, shells in bracelet construction, and lacquer decoration for vessels and accessories.

Emergence of Wa in Chinese history texts



The earliest written records about people in Japan are from Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 sources from this period. Wa
Wa (Japan)
Japanese is the oldest recorded name of Japan. Chinese, Korean, and Japanese scribes regularly wrote Wa or Yamato "Japan" with the Chinese character 倭 until the 8th century, when the Japanese found fault with it, replacing it with 和 "harmony, peace, balance".- Historical references :The earliest...

, the Japanese pronunciation of an early Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 name for Japan, was mentioned in 57 AD; the Na state
Nakoku
' was a state which was located in and around modern-day Fukuoka City, on the Japanese island of Kyūshū, from the 1st to early 3rd centuries. Much of what is known about it comes from ancient records of both China and Japan....

 of Wa received a golden seal from the Emperor Guangwu
Emperor Guangwu of Han
Emperor Guangwu , born Liu Xiu, was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty, restorer of the dynasty in AD 25 and thus founder of the Later Han or Eastern Han...

 of the Later Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

. This event was recorded in the Hou Han Shu compiled by Fan Ye
Fan Ye
Fan Ye |Liu Xuan]] and Russian gymnast Svetlana Khorkina for the longevity of their involvement in the sport.Fan Ye is best known for her work on the balance beam. Her biggest accomplishment in gymnastics is winning the 2003 World Balance Beam Title...

 in the 5th century. The seal itself was discovered in northern Kyūshū in the 18th century. Wa was also mentioned in 257 in the Wei zhi, a section of the San Guo Zhi
Records of Three Kingdoms
Records of Three Kingdoms , is regarded as the official and authoritative historical text on the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history covering the years 184-280 CE. Written by Chen Shou in the 3rd century, the work combines the smaller histories of the rival states of Cao Wei , Shu Han and...

compiled by the 3rd century scholar Chen Shou
Chen Shou
Chen Shou was a historian during the Jin Dynasty period of Chinese history. He is best known as the author of Records of Three Kingdoms, a historical account of the late Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms period.-Biography:...

.

Early Chinese historians described Wa as a land of hundreds of scattered tribal communities rather than the unified land with a 700-year tradition as laid out in the 8th-century work Nihon Shoki
Nihon Shoki
The , sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second oldest book of classical Japanese history. It is more elaborate and detailed than the Kojiki, the oldest, and has proven to be an important tool for historians and archaeologists as it includes the most complete extant historical...

, a partly mythical, partly historical account of Japan which dates the foundation of the country at 660 BC. Archaeological evidence also suggests that frequent conflicts between settlements or statelets broke out in the period. Many excavated settlements were moated or built at the tops of hills. Headless, human bones discovered in Yoshinogari site
Yoshinogari site
Yoshinogari is the name of a large and complex Yayoi archaeological site in Yoshinogari and Kanzaki in Saga Prefecture, Kyūshū, Japan. According to the Yayoi chronology established by pottery seriations in the 20th century, Yoshinogari dates to between the 3rd century BC and the 3rd century AD...

 are regarded as typical examples. In the coastal area of the Inland Sea, stone arrowheads are often found among funerary objects.

Third-century Chinese sources reported that the Wa people lived on raw fish, vegetables, and rice served on bamboo and wooden trays, clapped their hands in worship (something still done in Shinto shrines today), and built earthen-grave mounds. They also maintained vassal-master relations, collected taxes, had provincial granaries and markets, and observed mourning. Society was characterized by violent struggles.

Yamataikoku



The Wei Zhi, which is part of the San Guo Zhi
Records of Three Kingdoms
Records of Three Kingdoms , is regarded as the official and authoritative historical text on the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history covering the years 184-280 CE. Written by Chen Shou in the 3rd century, the work combines the smaller histories of the rival states of Cao Wei , Shu Han and...

, first mentions Yamataikoku
Yamataikoku
or is the Sino-Japanese name of an ancient country in Wa during the late Yayoi period . The Chinese history Sanguo Zhi first recorded Yemetaiguo or Yemayiguo as the domain of shaman Queen Himiko...

 and Queen Himiko
Himiko
Himiko or Pimiko was an obscure shaman queen of Yamataikoku in ancient Wa . Early Chinese dynastic histories chronicle tributary relations between Queen Himiko and the Cao Wei Kingdom , and record that the Yayoi period people chose her as ruler following decades of warfare among the kings of Wa...

 in the 3rd century. According to the record, Himiko assumed the throne of Wa, as a spiritual leader, after a major civil war
Civil war of Wa
The Civil war of Wa or was a period of disturbances and warfare in ancient Japan during the late Yayoi period . It is the oldest war in Japan that has been documented in writing. Peace was restored around 180, when the shaman queen Himiko of Yamataikoku took control of the region.-Chinese...

. Her younger brother was in charge of the affairs of state, including diplomatic relations with the Chinese court Kingdom of Wei
Cao Wei
Cao Wei was one of the states that competed for control of China during the Three Kingdoms period. With the capital at Luoyang, the state was established by Cao Pi in 220, based upon the foundations that his father Cao Cao laid...

. When asked about their origins by the Wei embassy, the people of Wa claimed to be descendants of the Grand Count Tàibó
Wu Taibo
Wu Taibo is the name of eldest son of King Tai of the Zhou dynasty and the ancestor of King Wu of Zhou. His birth and death dates are still unknown due to lack of historical records.-Biography:...

 of Wu
Wu (region)
Wu is a region in the Jiangnan area , surrounding Suzhou, in Jiangsu province and Zhejiang province of China. It is also the abbreviation of several kingdoms based in Wu. The two largest cities in the Wu region today are Shanghai and Hangzhou...

, a historic figure of the Wu Kingdom
Wu (state)
The State of Wu , also known as Gou Wu or Gong Wu , was one of the vassal states during the Western Zhou Dynasty and the Spring and Autumn Period. The State of Wu was located at the mouth of the Yangtze River east of the State of Chu. Considered a semi-barbarian state by ancient Chinese...

 around the Yangtze Delta
Yangtze River Delta
The Yangtze River Delta, Yangtze Delta or YRD, also called Yangzi, or Chang Jiang Delta, Rive Chang Delta Tai Lake Region or the Golden Triangle of the Yangtze, generally comprises the triangular-shaped territory of Wu-speaking Shanghai, southern Jiangsu province and northern Zhejiang province of...

 of China.

For many years, the location of Yamataikoku and the identity of Queen Himiko have been subject of research. Two possible sites, Yoshinogari
Yoshinogari, Saga
is a town located in Kanzaki District, Saga Prefecture, Japan. It is the result of a merger between the town of Mitagawa, and the village of Higashisefuri, both from Kanzaki District, on March 1, 2006.-Geography:...

 in Saga Prefecture
Saga Prefecture
is located in the northwest part of the island of Kyūshū, Japan. It touches both the Sea of Japan and the Ariake Sea. The western part of the prefecture is a region famous for producing ceramics and porcelain, particularly the towns of Karatsu, Imari, and Arita...

 and Makimuku in Nara Prefecture
Nara Prefecture
is a prefecture in the Kansai region on Honshū Island, Japan. The capital is the city of Nara.-History:The present-day Nara Prefecture was created in 1887, making it independent of Osaka Prefecture....

 have been suggested. Recent archaeological research in Makimuku suggests that Yamataikoku was located in the area. Some scholars assume that the Hashihaka kofun in Makimuku was the tomb of Himiko. Its relation to the origin of the Yamato polity in the following Kofun period
Kofun period
The is an era in the history of Japan from around 250 to 538. It follows the Yayoi period. The word kofun is Japanese for the type of burial mounds dating from this era. The Kofun and the subsequent Asuka periods are sometimes referred to collectively as the Yamato period...

 is also under debate.

See also



  • Japanese era name
  • Xu Fu
    Xu Fu
    Xú Fú ; was born in 255 BC in Qi, and served as a court sorcerer in Qin Dynasty China. He was sent by Qin Shi Huang to the eastern seas twice to look for the elixir of life. His two journeys occurred between 219 BC and 210 BC. It was believed that the fleet included 60 barques and around 5,000 crew...


External links