The Heian Period: Japan's Golden Age

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The Heian period, often called Japan’s Golden Age, was a time when the aristocrats led a great flourishing of Japanese culture. They created advancements in architecture, had powerful families to keep the peace intact, conducted an efficient social system, made entertainment more updated, used new beauty and fashion styles, art became very important, and literature became greatly prized. The aristocrats created a spectacular culture that still lives on to this day. Heian-kyo, the new capital of Japan, became the first true Japanese city. It was called the new capital because in 794, Emperor Kammu moved the capital to Heian-kyo. This event marked the start of the Heian period, which lasted until 1185. The Heian era was a peaceful and inventive …show more content…
It was determined almost completely by a person’s birth family’s rank. Once one were in that rank, that was where he or she stayed, no moving up in position or down. Therefore, birth into a high-ranking family mattered more than personal qualities or skills. In the Heian court hierarchy, there were nine main ranks. High court nobles filled the top three ranks, less important officials occupied the fourth and fifth ranks, and the sixth through ninth positions were suffused by minor officials, clerks, and experts in such fields as law and medicine. Furthermore, the nine main ranks were divided into classes, such as senior and junior or upper and lower. Members of different ranks had contrasting types of houses and carriages, and their status even determined how many servants they could hire or the number of folds in their fans. Life for each member of a rank was very diverse. Wendy Frey wrote on page 241 of the History Alive textbook, “This precise ranking system also determined such matters as what color clothing a noble could wear and the height of the gatepost in front of his family’s home.” This evidence demonstrates how strict and lawful that the Heian-kyo ranking system actually was, and what an immense impact that it made on people’s everyday lives. Next, entertainment at the Heian court became just as amazing as the rest of the city when the Golden Age hit. Aristocrats had plenty of leisure time …show more content…
The artists of this era were absolutely talented, that they would commonly make an entire sculpture from a single piece of wood. But later on in the period, they made statues by carving separate pieces from carefully selected wood and then joined them together. Hence, sculptors could then create a group of similar statues promptly and precisely. This technique was developed over time by an artist named Jocho, who worked for Fujiwara Michinaga. During his time working for Michinaga, he created perhaps the greatest masterpiece of Heian sculpture, the Amida Buddha. Frey said in the History Alive textbook, “This Buddha, ‘The Lord of Boundless Light’, was the subject of much popular worship in Japan. Jocho’s beautifully carved statue expresses a sense of deep peace and strength.” This evidence supports the idea of how Heian art held more within the soul of it then just something to please the eye. Similarly, paintings were a prodigious part of the Golden Age as well. Heian artists developed a new Japanese style in painting, called yamato-e, to distinguish it from Chinese styles. Painters would draw their scenes with thin lines and then filled them in with brightly colored paint. At first, artists used this new style to paint Buddhist subjects, but over time they started to focus on nonreligious components. For instance, there were four main categories of yamato-e: landscapes, places

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