- from Ancient Japan
For thousands of years, the Japanese lived in clans. Clans are big groups of families. Leaders of each clan ruled different parts of the country.
They fought all the time for land and power. By A.D. 400, the Yamato clan controlled most of the country. Its leader became emperor of Japan. Other clans still had their own lands, but they were loyal to the Yamato leader.
By the late 700s, the emperor and his family lived in rich palaces in the city of Nara. Important clan members joined his court. They ruled their former lands in the emperor’s name. The noble families of the court also lived in the palace. They didn’t work with their hands like peasant farmers or craftspeople did. Instead, they painted, wrote poetry, and enjoyed nature.