The Yamato Empire was the unifying empire in Japan from ca. 350-700 AD. It centered on the fertile Kinai plain, with its political center in and around the province of what is now called Nara. This period is also called the Kofun period after the large tombs (kofun) built for the political leaders of that era. The capitol of Yamato moved frequently, with each new emperor.

At the time, Shinto was the cheif religion in Japan. However, due to friendly relations to the kingdom of Kudara in the area which is now North Korea and South Korea, influence from mainland Asia increased strongly. Buddhism was introduced to Japan around 550 Confucianism and Taoism, as well as the Chinese writing system were introduced to Japan during the Yamato period.

In 645 a new government and administrative system was AD. It was quickly accepted, and co-existed with the Shinto tradition. Also the philosophies of established based on the Chinese model. Also adopted from China was a large land reform in which land was bought by the state and redistributed equally among the farmers in order to introduce the new tax system.