For an immensely long period of time following the end of the Ice Ages, Japan was inhabited by wandering tribes of stone age hunter-gatherers. These people did eventually develop a limited form of agriculture, built settled villages, and were among the first peoples in the world to discover the art of pottery. We don’t know what they looked like, what they called themselves, or what language they spoke.
During the first millennium BCE a new culture arrived in Japan and spread over the southern half of the archipelago. It is usually assumed that they were the ancestors of the modern Japanese, migrating to the islands over the narrow seas from Korea. The newcomers had several advantages, including knowledge of rice farming and the use of metal tools and weapons, that allowed them to establish dominance.
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