The Japanese greatly admired Chinese architecture. They copied Chinese building styles, especially in the many temples they built. They used wooden frames and thatched roofs. For other buildings the nobles liked simple, airy designs.
People often gathered to watch performances by musicians, jugglers, and acrobats. These plays were wild and fun. In later centuries, a more serious form of drama formed called Noh. These plays combined music, speaking, and dance.
The Japanese had magnificent wardrobes with silk robes and gold jewelry. The women had gowns of 12 layers. They had fans and flowers that completed their outfits. In their modern day outfits the Japanese are very much like the U.S. when it comes to what they wear.
The Japanese cared very much about how they spoke and wrote. Writing was very popular among women. They wrote diaries and journals. Men wrote in Chinese and usually wrote in Japanese. Many people consider "The Tale of Genji" one of the Japanese's greatest novels.
The most popular forms of Art were paintings, calligraphy, and architecture. In their paintings they liked bright, bold, colors. They also liked paintings that illustrated stories. They used calligraphy to make poems look as beautiful as they sounded. Modern day and ancient Japanese Art is very much alike.
Religion became something of an art form. As a result, different forms of Buddhism developed in Japan. Pure Land Buddhism was very popular. Another popular form called Zen arrived in the 1300's. Both of these forms had a different was of achieving an enlightened state.
In Heian, nobles created and imperial court. Members of the noble court had very little to do with the common people. They lived apart from the poorer citizens and seldom left the city. The nobles of this court loved beauty and elegance. Because of this love many nobles were supporters of the arts. As a result, the court at Heian became a great center of culture and learning.