The Yayoi period is generally accepted to date from 300 BCE to 300 CE. However, although highly controversial, radiocarbon evidence from organic samples attached to pottery shards may suggest a date up to 500 years earlier, between 1,000 BC and 800 BC. During this period Japan transitioned to a settled agricultural society using agricultural methods that were introduced to the country, initially in the Kyushu region, from Korea.
The name Yayoi is borrowed from a location in Tokyo where pottery of the Yayoi period was first found. Yayoi pottery was simply decorated and produced using the same coiling technique previously used in Jōmon pottery. Yayoi craft specialists made bronze ceremonial bells (dōtaku), mirrors, and weapons. By the 1st century AD, Yayoi people began using iron agricultural tools and weapons.
As the Yayoi population increased, the society became more stratified and complex. They wove textiles, lived in permanent farming villages, and constructed buildings with wood and stone. They also accumulated wealth through land ownership and the storage of grain. Such factors promoted the development of distinct social classes. Contemporary Chinese sources described the people as having tattoos and other bodily markings which indicated differences in social status. Yayoi chiefs, in some parts of Kyūshū, appear to have sponsored, and politically manipulated, trade in bronze and other prestige objects. That was made possible by the introduction of an irrigated, wet-rice agriculture from the Yangtze estuary in southern China via the Ryukyu Islands or Korean Peninsula. Wet-rice agriculture led to the development and growth of a sedentary, agrarian society in Japan.