The Yamato Clan
The red area of the above map is the area of the Yamato clan. The Japanese legend says that the first emperor of the Yamato clan was the grandson of their kami, Amaterasu the sun goddess. They believed in divine right as well as the Shinto religion.
Amaterasu was the main kami of the Yamato Clan. Each clan had their own main god or goddess coming from the Shinto religion.
The At A Glance link is very helpful in understanding the religion and its origins as well as the links under the Belief headline.
The above picture represents Prince Shotoku. He was the regent for his aunt, and had an immense fascination and respect for Chinese culture. He was the main reason that things like Buddhism, Confucianism, and even a written language came to Japan.
The Heian Period
During the Heian Period, nobles were so reserved and waited on that they had started to refer to themselves as dwellers among the clouds. This period was very unique in all of its advancements and culture.
This is an example of Heian poetry. Everyone was expected to write poetry in this time period.
The treatment of women was especially unique in this time period. Rich women in the Heian period would wear giant twelve layered silk gowns, and were able to claim ownership to renowned works of literature. Lady Murasaki Shikibu wrote "The Tale of Genji", which is considered to be the first full size novel.