JAPAN, 1300

Yamato clan: c. 500s

An Emperor who belonged to the Yamato clan, claimed to be a descendant an ancestral sun goddess. Amaterasu was considered one of the most revered kami in Japan at this time.  According to legend, Japan's first emperor was the grandchild of the sun goddess, Amaterasu. By the 500s the clan was in control of the majority of Honshu, an island in the Sea of Japan.

Lady Murasaki (971 - 1016)

Murasaki Shikibu writing

Prince Shotoku’s rule as regent: 593–622

One of the people who most helped spread Buddhism in Japan was Prince Shotoku. From 593 to 622 he served as regent to the Japanese empress, who was his aunt. A regent is a person who rules for someone who is unable to rule alone. Besides supporting Buddhism, Shotoku greatly admired China. In Japan, Chinese fashions, foods, and tea became popular along with Tang styles of art, music, dance, and gardening.

Muromachi period

Heian Period: 794–1185

In 794 Japan’s emperor moved the capital to Heian. Many of Japan’s nobles moved to Heian, where they developed an elegant and stylish court society. Nobles took great care with how they spoke and wrote. They loved elegance and beauty and passed the time strolling through lovely gardens or admiring art and poetry. The proper way to write a note was an art form, and everyone was expected to write poetry. These poems often had five lines and focused on love or nature.

At the Heian court, Japanese culture flowered. The nobles at Heian lived in beautiful palaces and enjoyed lives of ease and privilege. Court life was so removed from that of Japan’s common people that many nobles called themselves “dwellers among the clouds.”

This world, I think,
Is indeed my world,
Like the full moon
I shine,
Uncovered by any cloud!

The Fujiwara family controlled Japan throughout most of the Heian period. Many Fujiwaras served as regent, and the Fujiwaras often married their daughters to the heirs to the throne. However, rich landowners with private armies eventually began to challenge the Fujiwaras and Japan’s central government.

The Fujiwara Clan