Who: Yamato Clan, Minamoto family
What: In early Japan, clans ruled their own territories. As time went on, the Yamato clan reigned supreme as the leading clan, and also called the chiefs the emperors. Japan became more and more influenced by mainland Asia, as the amount of contact grew. The Japanese adapted Chinese ways to suit their own needs. During the Heian period, Japan’s central government was relatively strong. However, this strength was soon to be challenged by great landowners and clan chiefs who acted more and more as independent local rulers.
During the late 1100s, Japan’s two most powerful clans fought for power. After almost 30 years of war, the Minamoto family emerged victorious. In 1192, the emperor gave a Minamoto leader named Yoritomo the title of shogun, or “supreme general of the emperor’s army.” The Kamakura shoguns emerged, but soon lost prestige and power. Samurai attached themselves more closely to their local lords, who soon fought one another as fiercely as they had fought the Mongols.
Why: An openness to adapting innovations from other cultures is still a hallmark of Japanese society.