Places, Images, Times & Transformations

Yayoi period

(ca 300 BC - ca AD 300). Prehistoric period. The first period of intensive agriculture and bronze and iron use in Japanese prehistory, so called because of certain characteristic pottery discovered in the Yayoi section of Bunkyō Ward, Tokyo, in 1884. Wet-rice technology, metallurgy, and other innovations were introduced piecemeal from the late-bronze-age cultures of the Korean peninsula into Kyūshū. From there, wet-rice cultivation spread rapidly throughout western Japan and some northern coastal regions during the Early Yayoi period and then gradually into northeastern Japan in the Middle Yayoi and Late Yayoi. In contrast to the earlier view of Yayoi as consisting of peaceful agricultural villages, the period is increasingly seen as one of competition and warfare, as trends toward social stratification and polity formation took hold. The period is known for its distinctive pottery-making techniques and styles, its particular burial patterns (including the placement of bodies in jars), and the development of small political units centering on regional chieftains. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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