- from Ancient Japan
For thousands of years, the Japanese lived in clans, or large groups of related families. Leaders of each clan ruled different parts of the country.
The clans fought each other all the time for land and power. By A.D. 400, the Yamato clan had control over most of the country. The leader of this clan became emperor of Japan. Although other clans still controlled their own lands, they owed loyalty to the Yamato leader.
By the late 700s, the emperor and his family lived in beautiful palaces in the city of Nara. Important clan members became nobles in the emperor’s court. They ruled their former lands in the emperor’s name. The noble families who belonged to the emperor’s court also lived there. Members of the court did not work with their hands the way peasant farmers or craftspeople did. Instead, they spent their days painting, writing poetry, and enjoying nature.