Yamato (大和)

Yamato refers to the current region of Nara Prefecture in ancient times to the early Meiji period and is also another name of Japan.

This word is also used to represent Japan.

For example, Yamato race, yamato-damashii (Japanese spirit) and so on.

Range of Yamato

The southeast area of the Nara Basin where the Yamato Dynasty was located was originally called Yamato. When the Yamato Dynasty ruled the Nara Basin and the Kawachi side, that area (later Kinki and Kinai regions) was also called Yamato. When most of the Japanese Islands (from the south of the Tohoku region to the south of Kyushu) were ruled and controlled, these areas were collectively called Yamato.

For details on ryoseikoku (province) of Yamato, refer to Yamato Province.


There are a variety of views about the origin of the word 'Yamato': the area is a region surrounded by mountains; the Yamato Dynasty located in this region originated in an area called 'Yamato'; 'Yamato' means 'Sanmon' (temple gate) and the name of a place of belief in nature that gods exist in mountains was changed to a country name; or it was developed in the area centered around Mt. Miwa and Yamato.

Change in terms

When the kanji (Chinese characters) culture entered Japan in the Kofun period (tumulus period), the word '倭' was assigned to the word 'Yamato.'
The people or political force in the Japan Islands was called 倭 by China in ancient times, and 倭 was called Yamato in the Kofun period because the political force of 'Yamato' became the main political force in the Japan Islands.

The word '大倭' (Oyamato) was mainly used in the Asuka period. 大倭 was the name of the political force that represented the Japanese Islands; at the same time it was also the name of the Nara region. It is said that the name of the country was determined to be '日本' (Nihon) in the latter half of the seventh century to 701, but some say that 日本 was pronounced Yamato.

The name of ryoseikoku (province) that indicated the Nara Basin was considered to be changed from '倭国' to '大倭国' in 701 in the same way as 三野 was changed to 美濃国 and 尾治 was changed to 尾張国 by using koji (letters signified good meaning and often used for person's name or place name).

In 737 in the mid Nara period, the ryoseikoku of 'Yamato' was renamed from '大倭国' to '大養徳国' under the TACHIBANA no Moroe government, but when its political force weakened in 747, the name was returned to '大倭国.'
It is considered that the name was changed from '大倭国' to '大和国' immediately after the TACHIBANA no Naramaro Disturbance in 752 or 757. "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued), which is an official history in those days, somehow had no article of the name change of an era. This was when the word '大和' appeared for the first time. Subsequently both '大倭' and '大和' were used, but '大和' became the mainstream gradually.


There is an Oyamato tomb group.

[Original Japanese]