Ancient Japan
By Jordan Colacicco

All About It

    The Japanese people that followed the emporer in the Heian civilization were called nobles. Japan's emporer favoured these followers because they were the ones that served him. Because of this, their lives were full of ease and privileges. They  loved beauty and elegance and were great supporters of the arts. This time period, 794-1185  was a "golden age of arts" for the Japanese.


     Their love of beauty began in the world of fashion. They had elaborate wardrobes consisting of silk robes and gold  jewelry. Women would often carry around decorative, delicate fans to top their outfits off. The fans were painted with flowers, trees, and birds.   


  Writing was very important to the nobles in Japan. Women wrote in diaries and journals. Men wrote in Chinese, while women just stood to Japanese. Because of this, most famous Japanese literature is written by women. A woman named Lady Murasaki Shikibu was one of the greatest writers in Japan. She wrote the first full length novel, "The Tale of Genji".

Visual Art

  In addition to literature, the Japanese nobles also loved visual arts. The popular types of art consisted of paintings, calligraphy, and architecture. The nobles used bright, bold colors to create paintings that illustrated stories. Many of the greatest paintings resemble scenes from a famous piece of literature, "The Tale of Genji". Some artists even painted on doors and furniture instead of just paper. Calligraphy was another popular form of art. They wanted the poems not only to sound beautiful, but look the part as well.


  Nobles in Heian worked to make their city beautiful. They modeled the city after Chang'an, the Chinese capital. The Japanese used a lot of Chinese ideas on their architecture. The nobles preferred their buildings to have easy, spread out designs. They used wood and tile roofs when building. Gardens and ponds were added to surround these buildings to make them even more beautiful.

Performing Arts

  Japanese drama can be traced back to the Heian time period. Musicians, acrobats, and jugglers all put on wildly ecstatic performances. Eventually these peformances  started to turn in to a type of drama called Noh, which was very seriosus. Noh plays told about great heroes from Japan's past. This type of play was created in the 1300s and combined music, speaking and dance.

Different Forms of Buddhism

There were several different types of Buddhism being practiced in Japan. The first form was called Pure Land Buddhism. It didn't require anything special. Pure Land Buddhists were known to have chanted Buddha's name to achieve am enlightened state. Another form of Buddhism was called Zen that came from China in the 1100s. They believed that neither faith nor good behavior led to wisdom.