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History Heian period (平安時代)

Heian period (平安時代) – a historical period during which the capital was located at Heian-kyō.



The Heian period (平安時代, Heian jidai) is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. It followed the Nara period, beginning when the 50th emperor, Emperor Kanmu, moved the capital of Japan to Heian-kyō (modern Kyoto ). Heian (平安) means "peace" in Japanese. It is a period in Japanese history when the Chinese influences were in decline and the national culture matured. The Heian period is also considered the peak of the Japanese imperial court and noted for its art, especially poetry and literature. Two types of Japanese script emerged, including katakana, a phonetic script which was abbreviated into hiragana, a cursive alphabet with a unique writing method distinctive to Japan. This gave rise to Japan's famous vernacular literature, with many of its texts written by court women who were not as educated in Chinese compared to their male counterparts. Although the Imperial House of Japan had power on the surface, the real power was in the hands of the Fujiwara clan, a powerful aristocratic family who had intermarried with the imperial family. Many emperors actually had mothers from the Fujiwara family. The economy mostly existed through barter and trade, while the shōen system enabled the accumulation of wealth by an aristocratic elite. Even though the Heian period was one of national peace, the government failed to effectively police the territory, leading to frequent robberies of travellers.


Heian Period - Part 1

History  Heian Period - Part 1

Heian Period (794-1185) Heian Period (Part 1): Heiankyō, institutions, politics and government Heian Period (Part 2): land tenure Heian Period (Part 3): cultural life, religion, literature, art The Heian Period (平安時代 Heian jidai) spans almost 400 years from 794, when Emperor Kammu...

Heian Period - Part 2

History  Heian Period - Part 2

Heian Period (794-1185) Heian Period (Part 1): Heiankyō, institutions, politics and government Heian Period (Part 2): land tenure Heian Period (Part 3): cultural life, religion, literature, art Heian land tenure In the mid-seventh century, the ruling family in Yamato maintained an unstable...

Heian Period - Part 3

History  Heian Period - Part 3

Heian Period (794-1185) Heian Period (Part 1): Heiankyō, institutions, politics and government Heian Period (Part 2): land tenure Heian Period (Part 3): cultural life, religion, literature, art Heian Cultural Life While most historians regard the political and economic developments of the...

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