The Kofun period is an era in the history of Japan from around 250 to 538 AD, following the Yayoi period. The Kofun and the subsequent Asuka periods are sometimes collectively referred to as the Yamato period. This period is the earliest era of recorded history in Japan, and studies depend heavily on archaeology as the chronology of historical sources tends to be very distorted.
This was a period of cultural import. Continuing from the Yayoi period, the Kofun period is characterized by a strong influence from the Korean Peninsula, and archaeologists now think of this period in terms of a shared elite culture across the southern Korean Peninsula, Kyūshū and Honshū. The word kofun is Japanese for the type of burial mounds dating from this era, and archaeology makes clear that the mound tombs and material culture of elites were similar across the region. From China, Buddhism and the Chinese writing system were introduced towards the end of the period.
The Kofun period also recorded the earliest political centralization in Japan, when the Yamato clan rose to power in southwestern Japan and eventually established the Imperial House.