A chain of islands in the northern Central Sea, Yamato is home to an honor-driven and traditionally conservative society very similar to that of RL Japan. Yamato's relations with other parts of the world have varied wildly over the centuries, from isolationism to military imperialism to friendly economic interaction, but it continues to wield influence over the Central Sea that far belies its size.
Yamato's flag is white, with vertical red bars running down the left and right sides. A large red character in the center of the white field gives the name of the country in the Yamatoan language, a name that translates as "land of the rising sun". (The name dates to Yamato's early history, and has stuck in spite of the fact that the eastern continent of Fan Shoar was discovered by Yamatoan sailors more than a thousand years ago. As far as Yamato is concerned, it is "the east", and Fan Shoar is poetically said to lie "beyond the sunrise".)
The house of the Emperor of Yamato is represented by a golden chrysanthemum blossom. While modern Yamato is a parliamentary democracy, the Emperor and his family remain beloved figureheads of a bygone era.
In the early days of the Curse, Yamato was a feudal shogunate divided into provinces. This feudal period lasted much longer in Yamato than the corresponding period in RL Japan, and it remained remarkably stable until the days of the Industrial Revolution (which happened at least a century earlier in MK2K than on RL Earth). The introduction of western technology and technomagic disrupted the balance of power, and the shogunate dissolved in civil war by 1790.
The 1800s saw the rebirth of Yamato as a military dictatorship, nominally headed by the Emperor but factually run by the generals. This junta knew that Yamato required more raw materials, especially iron ore, than could be found in Yamato itself, if they were to compete in the industrial world with other nations in and around the Central Sea. The armed forces of Yamato launched a period of imperialist expansionism, annexing vast tracts of the Galendor mainland including the Oriental Range, the Oriental Coastlands, Khumar, and some parts of the Eastern Regions. Settlements and garrisons were established in northern Fan Shoar, as well. This expansion took place over the course of years, and attracted little attention from the rest of the world -- other great nations were engaged in their own territorial expansions, and Kyia resolved to be cautious and see how Yamatoan rule developed in its new acquisitions.
Things came to a head in the early 1830s, though, when Yamato began taking steps toward annexing regions allied with Quenardya and Rukilia. Neither the Elves nor the Nagas were prone to military aggression against outsiders, but neither would they allow those nations whom they looked upon with friendship (or as valuable allies) to be taken under Yamatoan control without their consent. Yamato decided to try to prevent any action against them through a preemptive strike, and in 1832 it launched vicious surprise attacks against the major military bases of both nations. (Whales was not considered to be a concern, since the island nation was already dealing with a naval war of its own against Espaku and its satellite states in Irombi, which had an alliance with Yamato.) The war that followed was long, vicious, and bloody, and was considered by most to be the first true "world" war. The conflict was marked by a slow, grinding land war between Quenardya and Yamato, and by a naval war between Rukilia and Yamato's island holdings. Metamor kept out of the war in the Central Sea, but supported Whales's side of the war by committing Imperial troops and air forces to the conflict in Irombi. The Elves and their human allies drove the Yamatoan army off of the mainland, and Rukilia finished the job in 1838 by taking Khumar and parts of Yamato itself. Yamato was forced into an inequal peace that left the Nagas in control of a good chunk of its homeland. Aggression in Irombi was contained, but Espaku and the other aggressor nations were not conquered outright, being saddled instead with heavy demands for reparations toward the nations they had attacked.
It was an untenable situation at best. Yamato threw off its Rukilian occupation force in a nasty guerrilla war for independence that lasted through most of the 1840s. They began to rebuild with a thirst for vengeance, but world recession in the 1850s and 1860s dragged out the recovery process and made Yamato's resentment even worse. In the late 1860s, Yamato began to expand its holdings in Fan Shoar, far from the interests of the Elves and Nagas (who now controlled or strongly influenced almost half of Galendor between them). New alliances were formed in Fan Shoar, Irombi, even some parts of the Southlands -- anywhere that the triple alliance of Metamor, Quenardya and Whales was feared and resented.
By 1885 the world was in full-blown war again, though this time most of the ground fighting occurred in Fan Shoar rather than Galendor. The conflict was even more terrible than the last one, and spells were used in battle that ought never to have been tested in even the remotest wasteland. Civilians died by the millions, and still the conflict dragged on. Eventually, a joint Imperial/Quenardya invasion force was launched against Yamato from the Oriental Coastlands, while Whales and Metamor fought a holding action in Fan Shoar. Yamato was again defeated, and this time completely occupied by Metamor peacekeepers (who were far more respectful of local customs than the Nagas had been). The war in the east was brought to an end in 1893, with a truly horrifying spell that destroyed one of the aggressor nation-states in Irombi and led to the creation of the Rift.
In the decades that followed, Yamato was reconstructed as a parliamentary democracy and re-entered the community of independent nations. With help from Metamor, Yamato soon grew into an economic powerhouse, establishing itself as a leader in the newborn fields of electronics and advanced technomagic. Today Yamato prefers to solve its differences with other nations through economic rather than military means, and it has been highly successful in doing so. While relations with Metamor are still somewhat strained at times, due to the vast differences in culture, on the whole the two nations count each other as major trade partners, if not exactly allies. Relations with Rukilia, on the other hand, remain tense, and while the two have never come to blows again, Yamato wages a relentless economic battle for dominance over the Naga nation to the south. Yamatoans and Elves generally leave each other alone, content to let bygones be bygones.