Kofun Period or Yamato Period (300 AD – 710 AD)

Scattered tribes were consolidated under Yamato clan – the first ruler of the imperial government. Under him the Government became more centralized and class and divisions became more elaborate. Contacts have been established between Japan and the kingdoms on the Korean Peninsula, which has brought new techniques in iron making, pottery, weaving, smithy and shipbuilding. Black and white drawing in Chinese traditions known as SUIBOKU was also introduced. Adoption of Chinese writing system and introduction of Buddhism along-with Confucianism revolutionized Japanese culture and marked the beginning of long period of Chinese cultural influence.

Kofun period is characterized by the appearance of massive key-hole – shaped burial mounds made for their chieftains with HANIWA, unglazed earthenware in the shapes of people animals, tools and houses, on and around the burial mounds. Another well-known artifacts from this period are bronze mirrors, which are unique of its kind. During Asuka period (593-710) the construction of religious sites shifts from tomb building to temple building. Prince Shotoku advocated Buddhism and discouraged local ancestral cults. He commissioned and financed many great temples of Buddha including viharas, homes and hospitals. He was a learned person and had a great knowledge of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, astronomy and geography. He issued moral and religious directives, Japan’s first legal document based on Buddhism and Chinese philosophy for govt. official i.e. worship Buddha, work late, avoid sycophants, bribes, anger and excessive taxation and punishments. The written form of Chinese, based on ideographic characters, was adopted and through this medium Japanese learned the rudiments of medicine, law, philosophy, art and architecture, the working of the calendar and astronomy. Taiko reforms and Taiho reforms were introduced which had increased the power of the imperial line over the clans (UJI) and established systems for taxation and land distribution. A system of standard weights and measures was instituted and diplomatic ties with China were resumed after a period of rupture.

Leave a Reply