The Yamato Clan and The Heian Period
The Yamato Clan
According to legend, the first Japanese emperor was the grandson of the sun goddess Amaterasu. This emperor was part of the Yamato Clan which claimed that they were her descendants.
The Yamato mainly occurred the southern half of Japan (mainly on the island of Honshu on the Yamato plains), even though they referred to mantelshelves as the emperors of Japan. Rulers of Japan still believe this to this day.
Eventually, other clans took over the Yamato Clan, but instead of getting rid of the emperor, the used him. The emperors didn't really have any true authority. He served as a figure head. This system of government in which the "monarch" was just a figure head, lasted till the 1900's.
One influential person was Prince Shotoku. He helped spread Buddhism. He also really admired China and sent scholars to learn the ways of the Tang Dynasty of China. As a result, Tang fashions, food, and culture became popular in China. Government was also adopted, with the central government and a bureaucracy to control the government's affairs.
The Heian Period
Japan's emperor and other nobles moved to the capital of Heian, where Japanese culture flourished. During the Heian Period nobles livedf a carefree life of luxury. Elegance and beauty was admired and most of their time was spent strolling around in gardens. Court life wasn't very involved here either, often resulting in the nobles being siad to be "dwellers among the clouds".
Literature was also a big part of their lives. Writing was its own form of art. The proper way each letter was written considered to be a piece of work. The poems were generally five lines and about love.
The Fujiwara controlled Japan during the Heian period. They often married their own daughters to the heir of the throne. Later on though, righ nobles started to challenge their authority and Japan's central government, eventually rresulting in even this dynasties downfall.