Ancient Japanese Culture

I Japanese Nobles Create Great Art

The nobles who followed Japan's emperor to heian wanted to win his favor by living close to him. In heian, these nobles created an Iperial court, a group of nobles who live near and serve or advise a rules. Members of the noble court had little to do with  the common people of heian. They lived apart from poorer citizens and seldom left the city. The nobles court loved beauty and elegance. Because of this love, many nobles were great supporters of the arts


The nobles love of beauty began with their own appearances. They had magnificent wardrobes full of silk robes and gold jewelry. Nobles loved elaborate outfits. For example: women wore long gowns made of 12 layers of colored silk cleverly cut and folded to show off many layers at once. To complete their outfits, nobles often carried delicate-decorative fans. These fans were painted with flowers,trees, and birds.  


In addition to how they looked, Japanese nobles took great care with how they spoke and wrote. Writings was very popular among the women. Many women wrote diaries and journals about their lives at court. In their diaries, these women carefully chose their words to make their writing beautiful. One of the greatest writers in early Japanese history was Lady Murasaki Shikibu. Around 1000, she wrote The Tale of Genji. Many historians consider this book to be the worlds first full-length novel. Many readers also consider it one of the best. The Tale of Genji is the story of a prince named Genji and his long quest for love. During his search he meets women from different social classes. Many people consider The Tale of Genji one of the Japan's greatest novels.

Visual Art

Besides literature, Japan's nobles also loved the visual arts. The most popular art forms of the period were paintings, calligraphy, and architecture. In their paintings, the nobles of Heian liked bright, bold colors. They also liked  any of the greatest paintings from this period of illustrate scenes from literature, such as The Tale of Genji. Other paintings show scenes from nature or from court life. Many artists painted on doors and furniture rather than on paper. Another popular from of art in Heian was calligraphy, or decorative writing. Calligraphers spent hours carefully copying poems. They wanted the poems to look as beautiful as they sounded.


The nobles of Heian worked to make their city beautiful. They greatly admired Chinese architecture and modeled Heian after the chinese capital, Chang'an. They copied Chinese building styles, especially in the many temples they built. These styles featured buildings with wooden frames that curved slightly upward at the ends. The wooden frames were often left unpainted to look more natural. Thatched roofs also added to the natural feel.

Performing Arts

The performing arts were also popular in japan during the Heian period. The roots of later Japanese drama can be traced back to this time. People often gathered to watch performances by musician, jugglers, and acrobats. These performances were wild and fun. Especially popular we're the plays in which actors skillfully mimicked other people. In later centuries, these types of performances developed into a more serious form of drama called Noh.

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