Heian Period Heian Period (794 - 1192)

The Heian period (794-1192) was one of those amazing periods in Japanese history. During this period, there was a gradual decline of Chinese influence. In politics, the Fujiwara family controlled the political scene over several centuries through strategic intermarriages with the imperial family and by occupying all the important political offices in Kyoto and the major provinces. The power of the clan reached its peak with Fujiwara-no-Michinaga in the year 1016. Many of the imported ideas were gradually "Japanized." In the arts, native Japanese movements became increasingly popular. Also, they developed a court culture with values and concepts uniquely Japanese rather than derived from imperial China, such as miyabi (courtliness), and aware (sensitivity, sorrow). The development of the Kana syllables made the creation of an actual Japanese literature possible, and many diaries were written by court women at this time. This Heian culture was forged largely among the women's communities at court and reached its pinnacle in the book considered to be the greatest classic of Japanese literature, the Genji Monogatari (Tale of Genji) by a woman, Lady Murasaki-shikibu.

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