History Podcasts

The History of Premodern Japan: The Nara Period

The History of Premodern Japan: The Nara Period

>

This lecture details the Nara period of pre-modern Japan.


History Nara Period

The Nara Period (奈良時代 Nara jidai) is the historical period beginning in 710, the year the capital was moved from Fujiwarakyō to Heijōkyō (the modern-day city of Nara), and ending in 784 when the capital was moved to Nagaokakyō. The ten years at Nagaokakyō (784-794) are usually included in the Nara Period, however, giving it an end-date of 794.

Todai-ji

The Nara Period marked the height of the Chinese-inspired ritsuryō (律令) system of government as well as the active introduction of other aspects of Chinese civilisation. To make Buddhism the spiritual base of centralised political authority, provincial temples (kokubunji) were established throughout Japan. The Nara Period saw the establishment of Buddhism as the religion of the court and, by extension, of the state, and a new height in intellectual and cultural achievements as exemplified in the building of the Great Hall of the Tōdaiji temple, as well as the compilation of Japan’s first chronicles, the Kojiki (古事記, 712) and the Nihon Shoki (日本書紀, 720). Under the influence of Tang China, the arts flourished in what is known as the Tempyō (天平) culture. During the middle period, however, a power struggle broke out among the court nobility. Modifications in the land-tenure system led to the accumulation of vast tracts of private land (荘園 or 庄園 shōen) by nobles and religious institutions, resulting in the collapse of the kōchi kōmin (公地公民) system of public ownership of land and the disintegration of the ritsuryō system. The final years of the Nara Period witnessed increasing poverty among the peasants, who were overburdened by taxes, and growing numbers of homeless wanderers.

Ritsuryō System

In the context of political history, the Nara period may have begun with the promulgation of the Taihō Code (大宝律令 Taihō-ritsuryō) in 701. Under the code, the centralising reforms inaugurated by the Taika Reforms (645) were pushed forward, and the period saw the firm establishment of the emperor as the head of a Chinese-style ritsuryō state. Under the ritsuryō system, the central government was headed by the dajōkan (太政官 Grand Council of State), which presided over eight ministries. The government was staffed by officials appointed by the emperor and bidden to act as his loyal servants. The country was divided into provinces (国 kuni or kokii), which in turn were divided into districts (郡 gun or kōri), villages (郷 ), and hamlets (里 ri or sato). An early Nara-period document lists 67 provinces, comprising 555 districts, 4,012 villages, and 12,036 hamlets. The provinces were administered by governors (国司 kokushi), who were sent out from the capital. All the people were considered the emperor’s subjects and were expected to obey the officials who acted in his name.

All rice land was declared public domain. Under the handen shūju (班田収授) system the land was redistributed every six years to all males and females over six years of age. A male received 2 tan (1 tan (段) = 0.12 hectare or 0.3 acres), a female two-thirds that amount. To ensure proper allocation of rice land, the census register was updated every six years. The authority of the imperial court at the time extended as far south as the islands off the tip of Kyūshū and as far north as Akitajō, in what is now Akita Prefecture. The population in this area is estimated to have been about 5 to 6 million and the acreage of rice land about 601,000 chō (about 721,200 hectares or 1.8 million acres). It is evident that even after taking into consideration the ratio of males to females, there was not enough land. Judging from historical materials, however, the handen system and the census registration seem to have been implemented throughout the country with little resistance. The allotted rice land was called kubunden (口分田). Holders of kubunden were liable to corvée (雑徭 zōyō), a rice tax (租 so), a handicraft or local products tax (調 chō). There was also a handicraft or local products tax (庸 ) instead of labour.

To strengthen administrative and military communications with the provinces and to facilitate the payment of taxes, the government established a network of post stations (駅制 ekisei) on the public roads connecting the capital and provincial seats of government. The rice and produce taxes that had hitherto been paid to local chieftains were now sent directly to the central government.

Todai-ji

A faithful imitation of the Chinese system of government was bound to have negative side-effects, for it was unsuited to Japan’s agricultural reality. According to a document of 730, in the province of Awa (present-day Chiba Prefecture), 412 out of 414 households were listed as being at the bare subsistence level. The figures for Echizen Province (modern Fukui Prefecture) in that year tell the same story: of 1,019 households, 996 were found to be poverty-stricken. The tax burden fell most heavily on the peasants, and the number of those who absconded increased at an alarming rate. At the same time, under the Sanze isshin no hō (723) and the Konden eisei shizai hō (743), reclaimed wasteland was recognised as private property for one or three generations, or in perpetuity. Nobles and religious institutions were able to appropriate extensive landholdings, which were exempted from taxes. Vagrant peasants in search of a livelihood converged upon these lands. Herein lay the fundamental contradiction of the Nara landholding system.

The project to build an imposing capital on the model of the Chinese capital of Chang’an (Ch’ang-an) was another instance of overzealous imitation. Many of the peasants conscripted for labour ran away the thousands of restless peasants who assembled daily on the outskirts of Heijōkyō posed a continuous threat, necessitating the deployment of armed guardsmen at the palace arsenal and the emperor’s residence. It was to adjust the Taihō Code to native realities that the minister Fujiwara no Fuhito (藤原不比等, 659-720) began compiling the Yōrō Code (養老律令 Yōrō-ritsuryō) in 718.

Following the death of Fuhito in 720, the most powerful political figure was Prince Nagaya, but in 729 the prince was ordered by the emperor to commit suicide for allegedly inciting a rebellion. He had, in fact, been falsely accused by members of the Fujiwara family, who, it is believed, hoped to take advantage of the social unrest to seize political leadership from the imperial house. The death of all four of Fuhito’s sons in a smallpox epidemic in 737, however, put an end to the family’s imperial aspirations.

The Emperor Shōmu (聖武天皇 Shōmu-tennō, 701-756), who was married to Empress Kōmyō (光明皇后 Kōmyō-kōgō, 701–760), a daughter of Fuhito, was deeply disturbed by the course of events, and, in the hope that the powers of Buddhism would bring an end to epidemic disease and social ills, in 741 he ordered the construction of temples and nunneries (国分 kokubunji) in every province. This undertaking was completed only after many years. Shōmu also ordered in 743 the construction of a gigantic statue of the Buddha Vairocana so that the blessings of the Buddha would extend over the entire country. Known as the Great Buddha (大仏 daibutsu) of Tōdaiji, it was completed in 752 at great expense.

State expenditures thus went mainly for the construction of imposing religious edifices and statues. Buddhist arts and culture, centring on these good works, reached an unequalled richness and brilliance. Scholars were later to call the artistic efflorescence of this period Tempyō culture, after the era name (nengō) for the years 729-749.

Tempyō Culture and Embassies to China

The ripening of Tempyō (天平) culture was owed in no small measure to the resumption of relations with the Tang (T’ang) dynasty (618-907) of China. The sending of official envoys had been halted since the defeat of Japanese forces by the combined armies of Tang China and the Korean state of Silla in the Battle of Hakusukinoe in 663. In 701, it was decided to send an embassy to China, and the envoys set out for the continent the following year. Between 701 and 777 seven missions were dispatched, each comprising as many as 500 or 600 men.

The voyages across the sea were dangerous and often fatal that they were undertaken indicates the eagerness with which the Japanese hoped to learn from China. Many students and scholars accompanied these embassies, a number remaining in China for many years. Some of them brought back foreign monks and new forms of Buddhism. They contributed significantly to the abundance of Tempyō culture, Gembō (玄昉, d. 746), Kibi no Makibi (吉備 真備, 695-775), and Abe no Nakamaro (阿倍 仲麻呂, 698-770) are some of the more famous of these students. Gembō returned with more than 5,000 sutras, while Kibi no Makibi, who had studied Confucianism, military science, and ceremonial rites, set up an educational program for future government officials. The Chinese monk Jianzhen (or Ganjin, 鑒真 or 鑑真 688–763) finally reached Japan in 754 after four unsuccessful attempts. He conveyed the teachings of the Risshū (律宗) sect and founded the Tōshōdaiji (唐招提寺) temple in Nara.

Visitors came from as far away as Central and West Asia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and India, bolstering the dynamism and diversity of Tempyō culture. The quintessence of Nara art is represented in the thousands of objects preserved in the Shōsōin (正倉院), the treasure house of Tōdaiji in Nara. Although resonating with foreign influence, the Nara culture remained uniquely Japanese. The Chinese writing system was adopted, but the Japanese language remained intact. Furthermore, by using Chinese characters in a free and imaginative manner, the Japanese added significantly to the richness and subtlety of their language. The poetic anthology Man’yōshū (万葉集, “Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves”) is an outstanding masterpiece of the period. Japan’s first history, the Kojiki (古事記), was completed in 712 it was followed eight years later by another chronicle, the Nihon Shoki (日本書紀), which was written in Chinese (漢文 kanbun). The Fudoki (風土記), gazetteers that described local customs, topography, and products, were compiled around the same time. All these projects were completed amidst the administrative demands of land and tax reform.


Nara Period (710 – 794)

Beginning with the establishment of the new imperial capital at Nara in 710, the Nara Period marked the incipient stage of the classical era of Japanese history. It was during this period that imperial power was cemented and the dogma of imperial succession from the sun goddess, Amaterasu, was codified in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki. The Nara Period was also marked by the development of two powerful schools of Buddhism, Tendai and the more esoteric Shingon, and the ascendancy of Buddhism in general. The era came to an end when the Emperor Kanmu (737 – 806) decided to move the capital shortly after the death of the Empress Kōken (718 – 770), in an attempt to remove the court from the intrigues and power plays of the Buddhist establishment at Nara. At first, Emperor Kanmu relocated the capital to Nagaoka-kyo (15km from Kyoto) in 784, but due to continual flooding on the nearby rivers, relocated the capital again to Heiankyō (Kyōto) in 794.

As with the previous maps, and subsequent maps, areas in red indicate the boundaries of settlement and political control by what modern ethnographers consider ‘ethnic’ Japanese.


Tenpyo Culture

The compilation of national myth,history and regional geography

Because the Imperial Court carried out the establishment of the legal code, they needed to set national history. Emperor Tenmu(天武天皇) ordered Hieda-no Are(稗田阿礼) to recite the myth and the oral tradition, and Oono Yasumaro(太安万侶) to write down for a record in 712. “Kojiki”(古事記, Records of Ancient Matters ) was the first historical record in Japan.

In 720, they made another historical book which is called “Nihonshoki”(日本書紀). And the Imperial Court had continued to compile the national history since that time for more than 180 years. In addition, they commanded to gather information of geography and products all over the country. The report was called as “Fudoki”(風土記) before people knew.

Waka(和歌)

More Japanese people had became to compose Waka by Nara Period. Not only those who with high position, Imperial Families and nobles, but also farmers and monks. Ootomo-no Yakamochi(大伴家持) collected about the 4,500 poetries, which was named as “Manyoshu”(万葉集).

Buddhism temples

The leaders in Nara Period set Buddhism as a core of Japanse society. So they built many temples in Nara throughout the period.

Shotoku Taishi had already established Horyuji temple in Asuka Period and people in Nara Period extended other structures including Yumedono(夢殿) in the area.

Yumedono Hall

Above all, Emperor Shomu built Todaiji and placed there the Great Buddha. The Daibutsu-den(大仏殿, the hall for the Great Buddha ) exceed other structures in the world as timber framework method.

As the leaders sought a power to unite the nation, they relied on the dharmas and the influence of Buddhism. Therefore The Imperial Court established the seven great temples of Nara(Nanto-Shichidaiji, 南都七大寺), Daianji, Gangoji, Horyuji, Kofukuji, Saidaiji, Todaiji, and Yakushiji.

As Horyuji doesn’t locate in Nara, some people add Toshodaiji to the seven great temples. All of the structure of the main hall in Tenpyo disappeared until today excepting the Toshodaiji.

The main hall of Toshodaiji

Both the sides of the hipped roof have Shibi(鴟尾) , an ornamental tile of charm against fire. And the pillars swell in the middle(entasis) just like with the corridor of Horyuji. The structure of the auditorium was changed from Kiridzuma-dzukuri(切妻造, gabled roof) into Irimoya-dzukuri(入母屋造, hip-and-gable roof structure) with the reconstruction in the 13th century.

Buddha statues

In 745, Emperor Shomu started the plan of making the Great Buddha for helping people from their suffering. The big statue amaze people who visit Todaiji still now. But you can see more other precious images at the temple.

The Great Buddha at Todaiji

The sculptor of Buddha statue in Tenpyo Culture use the way of not only carving but also the way of molding and lacquering. All of the statues were made of a clay, so the shock of by earthquake or water of rain broke them down. After the Nara Period, the sculptor hadn’t adopted the way of molding.

The Hokke-do(法華堂) of Todaiji contains many famous Buddha statues including Fukuken-kannon(不空羂索観音) , Nikko-bosatsu(日光菩薩), and Gakko-bosatsu(月光菩薩).

At Todaiji, the images of the guardians, Shitsu-Kongozo(執金剛像) and the Four Devas, get in a line and protect the main Buddha statue.

The Budda statue of Asura, one of the eight legions in Buddhism, stands in Kofukuji. Most of the Asuras express furious but the Kofukuji’s looks sad and attentive.

Asura, Kofukuji Temple. Photo by Imaizumi Atsuo

Ganjin(鑑真) who made a voyage from China and established Toshodaiji passed away in 763. Shortly before, one of his disciples dreamed a beam of the auditorium broke and he suspected it represented his master’s death. The disciples tried to leave the images of Ganjin and made the statue in detail. That is the oldest portrait sculpture in Japan.

Paintings

Nara Period had a few popular paintings but “the six-panel folding screen of painted women dressed in the Tang style”(鳥毛立女屏風, Torige Ryujo-no Byobu) appears in junior high shool’s textbook of Japanese history. Shosoin(正倉院) at Horyuji holds the picture.

“Kako Genzai Einga-kyo”(過去現在絵因果経) shows the previous and this life of Buddha with a style of a picture scroll. The Buddhist scripture is the oldest picture scroll in Japan. But unlikely later works, the pictures were drawn in upper line and the characters were written in lower.

Crafts

Shosoin puts many valuable crafts, which Empress Komyo(光明皇后, Emperor Shomu’s wife) donated her husband’s remembrance token in order. Especially one of the masterpieces, “Raden Shitan Gogen-no Biwa”(螺鈿紫檀五絃琵琶) represents arriving of the culture from East and South Asia.

Raden Shitan Gogen-no Biwa

The guitar-like musical instrument(biwa) have five strings(gogen) and decorations of mother-of-pearl(raden), using red sandalwood as the material. The ornaments make the figure of the man and the flowers in western regions of China.

Same to the biwa, “Hakururi-no Wan”(白瑠璃碗, white cut glass) traveled across the Silk Road. The researchers had thought the glass came from Persia, but the recent scientific analysis suggest the possibility of the Roman Empire.


EAS232 Evolution of the Japanese Language

This module is available ONLY to students registered for BA Japanese Studies (EASU01).

Module Content

The module introduces the language and representative examples of the main literary genres of Japanese – including poetry, travelogues, diaries and tales – from the Nara period to the mid-Edo period, focusing mainly on the language of the Heian and Kamakura periods. Through reading of annotated examples of premodern texts, and self-study grammar materials, you will become familiar with the texts and the social and cultural milieu they represent.

Topics Covered

  • A working knowledge of the grammar of premodern Japanese
  • The major texts and genres of the classical period
  • The cultural, political and social background to the classical period
  • The history and development of the pre-modern language and its script.

Study Hours

The university recommends that you spend 200 hours working on a 20 credit module. This will include:

  • Reading/grammar classes 2 hours/week
  • Independent Study 176 hours (approx. 14 hours a week for 13 weeks)

Assessment

This module will be assessed by coursework only, as follows:

Before you start…

If you would like to develop some familiarity with premodern Japanese literature, Helen McCullough’s Classical Japanese Prose: An Anthology would be a good place to start.


  • 710 (Wadō 3): Japan's capital city was established in Nara (Heijō-kyō). Δ]
  • 712 (Wadō 5): The Kojiki was finished. Ε]
  • 720 (Yōrō 4): Nihon Shoki completed. Ζ]
  • 749-752 (Tenpyō-shōhō 1-4): Emperor Shōmu orders the creation of a large statue of Buddha (Daibutsu) at Tōdai-jiΗ]
  • 760 (Tenpyō-hōji 4): Man'yōshū completed. ⎖]
  • 784 (Enryaku 3): The emperor moves the capital to Nagaoka⎗]
  • 788 (Enryaku 7): The Buddhist monk Saichō⎘] establishes a monastery on Mt Hiei
  • December 17, 794 (Enryaku 13, 21st day of the 10th month): The Emperor moves by carriage in a grand procession from Nara to Heian-kyō. ⎙]
  1. ↑ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. pp.𧎺–699. ISBN  978-0-674-01753-5 .
  2. ↑Library of Congress Country Studies, Japan,"Nara and Heian Periods" retrieved 2011-11-22.
  3. ↑Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 56.
  4. Jien Delmer Myers Brown, Ichirō Ishida (1979). 愚管抄: A Translation and Study of the Gukansho, an Interpretative History of Japan Written in 1219. University of California Press. p.𧈏. ISBN  978-0-520-03460-0 .
  5. ↑ Ellington, Lucien. (2009). Japan, p. 28.
  6. Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. p.𧎺. ISBN  978-0-674-01753-5 .
  7. Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. p.𧌡. ISBN  978-0-674-01753-5 .
  8. Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. p.𧏆. ISBN  978-0-674-01753-5 .
  9. Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. pp.𧆈–137. ISBN  978-0-674-01753-5 .
  10. Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. p.𧍠. ISBN  978-0-674-01753-5 .
  11. Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. p.𧎪. ISBN  978-0-674-01753-5 .
  12. Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. p.𧐥. ISBN  978-0-674-01753-5 .
  13. Jien Delmer Myers Brown, Ichirō Ishida (1979). 愚管抄: A Translation and Study of the Gukansho, an Interpretative History of Japan Written in 1219. University of California Press. p.𧈗. ISBN  978-0-520-03460-0 .

Main keywords of the article below: japan, characteristic, kimono, it’s, nara, japanese, common, known, find, rare, quite, place, period, history, rental, offering, shops, clothing, tenpyo.

KEY TOPICS
While kimono rental shops are quite common in Japan, it’s rare to find a place offering clothing characteristic of the Nara period of Japanese history, which is also known as Tenpyo clothing. [1] This way of dressing was influenced by Chinese clothing, as the Nara period saw Chinese missionaries come to Japan to spread Buddhism and Confucianism. [2] In the Asuka Period, Japanese clothing closely mimicked Tang Chinese fashion, and Chinese fashions continued to influence Japanese dress into the Nara Period. [3]

While kimono rental shops are quite common in Japan, it’s rare to find a place offering clothing characteristic of the Nara Period (710-794) of Japanese history, also known as Tenpyo clothing. [4] The Nara Period () of the History of Japan covers the years from about 710 to 784 CE. The Empress Gemmei established the capital at Nara, also known as Heijo kyo, where it remained the capital of Japanese civilization until the Emperor Kammu established the new capital at Nagaoka (and, only a decade later, Heian, or Kyoto). [5] Topics include the influence of Chinese culture on Classical Japan, the Imperial family, the Nara period, Buddhism, Shinto, the Japanese language, and Japanese poetry of the period. [5] Despite Japan's fascination with the culture and art of Tang China, the Nara period gave birth to a "semi-independent" Japanese sculpting style, one that no longer relied exclusively on images imported and slavishly copied from Chinese and Korean models. [5] Some of Japan's literary monuments were written during the Nara period, including the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, the first national histories, compiled in 712 and 720 respectively the Man'yōshū, an anthology of poems and the Kaifūsō, an anthology written in Chinese by Japanese emperors and princes. [5] Some of Japan's literary monuments were written during the Nara period, including the Kojiki and Nihongi, the first national histories compiled in 712 and 720, respectively the Man'yosh (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), an anthology of poems and the Kaifuso (Fond Recollections of Poetry), an anthology written in Chinese by Japanese emperors and princes. [5]

They brought with them Buddhist rituals, clothing, architecture, art, and books the Nara period represents the most active period of cultural imports into Japan. [5]

During the Nara period (710-784), Buddhism became the state religion of Japan. [6] Another early group of costumes in Japan were used during performances and ceremonies commemorating an enormous bronze Buddha completed in 752, midway through the Nara period (710-794). [7] In this lesson, learn about the Nara Period in Japan and its Chinese- and Buddhist-inspired artwork. [8]

For whatever reason, skirts reached a dead-end in Japanese fashion during the Nara Period. [3] Nara period, ( ad 710-784), in Japanese history, period in which the imperial government was at Nara, and Sinicization and Buddhism were most highly developed. [6] The Nara period was a time in Japanese history from about year 710 CE to 784. [8]

Nowadays, "Tenpyo" can often be used interchangeably with "Nara period," which is why clothing distinctive to the Nara period is referred to as Tenpyo clothing. [1] It was during the Nara period that the first actual kimono-like clothing appeared. [9]

Nara Period As Japan continued to establish itself as a nation, the clothing was still mostly influenced by Chinese styles. [10] Heian Japan: An Introductory Essay Essay highlighting the key points of Japanese history during the Heian Period, including the moving of the capital from Nara, the turning away from Chinese models, the Fujiwara family and the Heian aristocracy, and Buddhism in Japan. [5] The Nara Period ( Nara Jidai ) of ancient Japan (710-794 CE), so called because for most of that time the capital was located at Nara, then known as Heijokyo, was a short period of transition prior to the significant Heian Period. [11] The Nara period (709-795 AD) saw the flowering of Buddhism in Japan it was limited, however, to the capital and the royal court. [5] The Nara period ( 奈良時代, Nara-jidai ) of the history of Japan covers the years from about 710 to 784 C.E., during which the Empress Genmei (元明天皇, Gemmei Tennō ) established the capital of Heijō-kyō (平城京, present-day Nara). [5] The Nara period ( 奈良時代, Nara jidai ? ) is a time in the history of Japan which lasted from 710 to 794. [5] It has been pointed out that in modern Japan about 3 million cho is being farmed to feed a population 20 times the size of that in the Nara period. [5] During the Nara period, the power and influence of Buddhism in Japan expanded, and many new temples were built to accommodate the growing numbers of worshippers and clergy. [5]

The Culture of the Nara Period (710-794) Significance It made connection between the Chinese and the Japanese and the cultures are very significant in the sense that most of them are still used in Japan today. [5] Chinese was the routine written language of government throughout the Nara period, but there is plenty of evidence that all of the Chinese office names and official titles had Japanese translations that were routinely used in speech. [5] Because the bulk of Japanese Buddhists in the Nara period were Korean and Chinese, Nara Buddhism was essentially identical with Chinese Buddhism of the same period (T'ang China). [5] The Nara period is marked by the Japanese court's fascination with Tang culture in China, by strong court-clergy relations, and by lavish state spending on Buddhist temples, images, and texts. [5] During the Nara period, numerous Japanese missions (outside link) were sent to China as well, and the Japanese monks on these journeys brought back innumerable texts and images, which were then copied endlessly for the provincial temples. [5]

Chinese ideographs known as kanji had come into common use by this time, but it is the second half of the Nara period during which authentic Japanese poetry, religious thought and philosophy were first written by Japanese hands. [5] An early Nara period Chinese style garden and a second Japanese style garden built over the existing garden sometime in the middle of the Nara period, perhaps about 767 AD. [5] The Nara period saw a profound change in Japanese government brought about by the adoption of Chinese models of government, incorporating Confucian ideals. [5] During the Nara period the government records distinguish two kinds of Emishi, those who lived a traditional tribal life style and those who had settled down as farmers and whose lives were little different from Japanese. [5] Concentrated efforts by the imperial court to record and document its history produced the first works of Japanese literature during the Nara period. [5] Pillow words first show up in the Man'yōshū, the oldest extant collection of Japanese poetry, dating to the Nara period. [5] Wood Materials in the Nara Era Unlike the Asuka period, when champhor 樟 (kusu) was the main type of wood used for wooden statues, the most common wood materials used in the Nara period for single-block sculpture were Katsura 桂 (Judas tree), Keyaki 欅 (Zelkova), and Kaya 榧 (Japanese nutmeg). [5] More Japanese people had became to compose Waka by Nara Period. [5] Gigaku, a ceremonial dance popular during the Nara period, often drew on Japanese folklore as well as Buddhist stories. [5]

Others however believe that the "rational shopper" model first proposed by John Hunter Boyle to describe the cultural borrowing of late nineteenth century Japan is equally applicable to the Asuka and subsequent Nara period. [5] Nara Period Japan flourished economically and culturally, providing a lavish life style for its aristocrats. [5] Fujiwara no Fuhito (藤原不比等: 659-720) was a powerful member of the imperial court of Japan during the Asuka and Nara periods. [5] In the Nara period it is notable that there continue to be frequent mentions of migration of Koreans into Japan, presumably persons from former Paekche and Koguryo territories who were unhappy with rule by Silla. [5] One reason for the continuing dominance of bronze during the Nara period was the discovery, in 708 AD, of copper in Japan in large quantities. [5] Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Nara period - Early medieval Japan. [5]


As a sign of its authenticity, Shozoku Sanpo 710 is even endorsed as an official shop of the Ancient Nara Tenpyo Festival, which recreates the atmosphere of ancient Nara with a procession in period clothing and other traditional events, by the festival’s executive committee. [1] This was also the period in which Japanese traditional clothing became introduced to the Western world. [12]

Men's clothing continued in the Nara mode for a long stretch of the Heian Period. [2] The opportunity to dress as a Nara period aristocrat is an unforgettable experience that everyone who’s visiting Japan’s ancient capital should take advantage of. [1] The Nara period started with the establishment of a new capital for the Imperial Court. [8] The Nara period covers most of that time, from year 710 until 794. [8] Sculpture was important during the Nara period, especially the creation of Buddhist figures for temples. [8] We sent our reporter to a shop in Nara where you can dress as a noble from the Nara period (AD 710-794) and even stroll around town in your costume. [1] The architecture during the Nara period borrowed many elements from the Tang Dynasty in China, which was deeply focused on Buddhism. [8] During the Nara periods, laws regarding fashion were dictated specifying what to wear on different occasions, such as funerals and celebrations. [8]

Beginning with the establishment of the new imperial capital at Nara in 710, the Nara Period marked the incipient stage of the classical era of Japanese history. [5] Nara Period had a few popular paintings but "the six-panel folding screen of painted women dressed in the Tang style"(鳥毛立女屏風, Torige Ryujo-no Byobu) appears in junior high shool's textbook of Japanese history. [5]

BUDDHIST STATUARY DURING NARA ERA The Nara period is often portrayed as Japan's first great age of artistic statuary genius. [5] The capital at Nara, which gave its name to the new period (710-794), was styled after the grand Chinese Tang Dynasty (618-907) capital at Chang'an and was the first truly urban center in Japan. [5] Nara was the capital of Japan during the Tenpyo period more than 1,300 years ago. [5]


TRADITIONAL JAPANESE CLOTHING Kofun/Asuka Periods and Ancient Japan Japan's culture was influenced heavily by China and other surrounding countries, which was reflected in their clothing choices. [10] From the Nara period (710-794) until then, Japanese people typically wore either ensembles consisting of separate upper and lower garments (trousers or skirts), or one-piece garments. [13] The way of clothing for men, for a major part of this era, remained the same as that was in the Nara period. [14]


Because these moves represented new stages in the development of the Japanese state, historians now divide these years into the Nara (710-794) and Heian (794-1185) periods. [5] Empress Genmei moved the capital of Japan to the new planned city of Nara in 710 AD. She wanted the move to help get more power into her own hands and out of the hands of other powerful Japanese families. [5] In the case of Japan, the Asuka, Nara, and the first century of the Heian period represent the "slave society" phase. [5] Nara and Heian Japan (710 AD - 1185 AD) An overview of Japan's Nara and Heian periods. [5] As Japan gradually turned into a clearly defined, centralized state, the descendents of the uji became the aristocracy during the Nara and Heian periods. [5]

Heian Period Japan is known as the Golden Age of Japanese history because of the major import and further development of Chinese ideas in art, architecture, literature, and ritual that occurred at this time and led to a new and ultimately unique Japanese culture. [15] Japanese history: Nara, Heian Periods You are using an outdated browser. [5] Classic Court Culture: Media of Reception and Identity An overview of Japan's Nara and Heian periods. [5] Japan's first historical epoch-the Asuka period, named for the area near Nara where the court resided-coincides with the introduction of Buddhism into the country. [5]

The Nara Period saw the establishment of Buddhism as the religion of the court and, by extension, of the state, and a new height in intellectual and cultural achievements as exemplified in the building of the Great Hall of the Tōdaiji temple, as well as the compilation of Japan’s first chronicles, the Kojiki (古事記, 712) and the Nihon Shoki (日本書紀, 720). [5] Buddhism during the Nara period was essentially for the court, upper classes, and clergy. [5] During the Nara period, Buddhism and all its external trappings became the most important symbol of imperial authority. [5] I. Nara Period (710-784) A. First "permanent" imperial capital (Heijo) 1. [5] The Nara period might rightfully be called the Shōmu Era, for the capital in Nara during the reign of Emperor Shōmu 聖武 (+ 724 to 749) covered about 35 square miles and was home to more than a million people. [5] The last emporer of the Nara period, Kanmu, in fact moved the capital away from Nara to escape the influence of the Buddhist clergy. [5] Factional fighting at the imperial court continued throughout the Nara period as imperial family members, leading court families such as the Fujiwara (藤原), Tachibana, and Otomo clans, and Buddhist priests all contended for influence. [5] The politics of the Nara period were characterized by the dominance of the Fujiwara clan and its struggles against its rivals, discontent among members of the imperial family, the efforts of the imperial government to impose nationwide control at the expense of local administrations, and the parallel attempt of the Buddhist temples to establish their authority at the expense of the imperial government. [5] The Nara Period marked the height of the Chinese-inspired ritsuryō (律令) system of government as well as the active introduction of other aspects of Chinese civilization. [5] During the Nara Period (710-94), women painted their face with a white powder called oshiroi, and in the Heian Period (794-1185), a white facial color continued to stand as a symbol of beauty. [16] From around the Nara Period (710-94), a garment called a kosode (small sleeves) was worn, first as underclothes and later as an outer garment, by both women and men. [17] The Nara Period (奈良時代 Nara jidai ) is the historical period beginning in 710, the year the capital was moved from Fujiwarakyō to Heijōkyō (the modern-day city of Nara), and ending in 784, when the capital was moved to Nagaokakyō. [5] Overview of Nara History The Nara period begins with the relocation of the capital to Heijōkyō 平城京 (present-day Nara). [5] Although dating to the Nara period (710-794), it only became widely used in the tenth or eleventh century, but at that point it became immensely popular, becoming the second-most-popular motif for family mon by the start of the Edo period (1600). [5] Buddhism was introduced by Baekje in the sixth century but had a mixed reception until the Nara period, when it was heartily embraced by Emperor Shōmu. [5] The introduction of Buddhism brought unity and new ideas to the people in the Nara Period because it was believed that Buddhism would bring peace and restore health and prosperity to the land. [5] Significance Besides Buddhism, some people also believed in another religion called Shinto, which means two religions were accepted in the Nara Period. [5] Shotoku Taishi had already established Horyuji temple in Asuka Period and people in Nara Period extended other structures including Yumedono(夢殿) in the area. [5] The Nara period thus inaugurated is remarkable for its wealth of sculpture, which begins with the bronze trinity of Amida in Yakushiji and is followed by the Yakshi trinity of the same temple thirty years later, undoubtedly the finest existing specimen of this art. [5] At the start of the Nara period there were probably were about 8000 officials receiving salaries, but as time went on the number steadily dropped, and by the middle of the 9th century many offices in the table of organization had effectively ceased to exist. [5] The idea that all land should belong to the state and be periodically redistributed to peasants by need - that is, the allocation system adopted from China in the Nara period -- was difficult to set up and bitterly resented by the deeply imbedded clan (uji) interests it probably did work for a while, but by the late 8th century, private land holdings were beginning to appear. [5] After the death of Fujiwara no Fuhito early in the Nara period, Prince Nagaya (長屋王, Nagaya-no-ōkimi, 684 - March 20, 729, a son of Prince Takechi and great-grandson of Emperor Temmu) seized power at the court. [5] As Emperor Kōnin (光仁天皇 Kōnin-tennō, 709-782), he became the last sovereign whose reign fell completely within the Nara Period. [5] During the Nara period the power and influence of Buddhism grew. [5] Early Statecraft and Buddhism: Structures of Power and Faith An excellent short overview of the Asuka period, as well as the Kofun, Hakuho, and Nara periods. [5]


Heian Period The Heian Period marked the end of Chinese influence in Japan and the first period of classical Japanese history. [10] Fashion of the Nara period (645–794) was highly influenced by Chinese styles, especially in the use of silk. [18] Even hair, fashioned using a clip accessory to mimic the style of the Nara Period, takes only a short time to prepare. [4] Because the capital was primarily located in Heij (modern Nara) between 710 and 784 C.E., these years are referred to as the Nara period. [19]

These court outfits derive from Chinese court clothing that came across in the Nara period, but the middle-Heian and later outfits would hardly be recognizable, as the form of many of the various pieces changed in the Heian Period. [20] Large bronze statues were made in great number during the Nara period, spurred on by the discovery of large quantities of copper in Japan in +708. [21] It is believed that it was brought to Japan in the Nara period. [22]

In the Asuka and Nara periods, gilt bronze statues (kondou 金銅 ) were imported in great number from Korea and China, and numerous copies of these were made in Japan's court-sponsored workshops. [21] The Nara period is often portrayed as Japan's first great age of artistic genius. [21]

This era is considered a groundbreaking period in Japanese Buddhism and Buddhist art, with two new sects introduced to the original Six Sects of Nara. [21] It's said that this moon viewing custom was introduced to Japan from China during Nara and Heian period. [22] During the Asuka (550-710) and Nara (710-794) periods methods of sewing developed further, and clothing became longer and wider. [23] Japan's pre-Buddhist beliefs in nature spirits and holy men with magical powers were incorporated into Buddhism during the Nara and Heian periods, resulting in a complex blend of Shinto-Buddhist practice. [21] Heian period Heian period c. 800 -1200 (with the mid-point being 1000 CE, the millennial year) followed by the Kamakura period (technically 1185 - 1333) This places the 400 years of the Heian Period centering on the year 1000 in the midst of two other periods of c. 100 years each -- the Nara Period before and the Kamakura Period after. [24] The Nara period might rightfully be called the Shōmu Era, for the capital in Nara during Emperor Shōmu's reign (reigned +724 to 749) was home to between 70,000 to 200,000 people and covered roughly 4.2 kilometers from east to west and 4.7 kilometers from north to south. [21] During the Nara period, the great temples of Nara and their sects flourished and became politically powerful, resulting in the capital being moved to Kyoto in 794 to escape the temples' meddling. [25] Artwork from the Nara period is mostly a reflection of Chinese influences, aristocratic tastes, and the reproduction of imported sculptural models from China and less so from Korea. [21]

Buddhism was brought to Japan and many aspects of the Chinese culture were incorporated into the Japanese society. [8] Sanskrit proper, however, has not been used as a liturgical language in Japan--the Sanskrit and Pali that is used in Buddhism in Japan is taken from Chinese, leading to pronunciations of words like Prajñāpāramitā as 'Han Nya Ha Ra Mi Ta' in modern Japanese. [3]

Within the broad category of No robes called ôsode, a term referring to tall and wide sleeves that are left unsewn at their ends, are certain types of robes long since obsolete in Japan, except within the most conservative and traditional spheres of Japanese life, such as imperial court rites and Shinto rituals. [7] Buddhist sects (such as Zen), previously unknown in Japan, were introduced from the Asian mainland, which resulted in the importation of kesa made from certain luxurious types of textiles otherwise unavailable to the Japanese. [7]

Dignitaries from various Asian countries came to Nara, then the capital of Japan, to attend. [7] This period was later named after the city of Nara, which is where the first capital was located. [8] Only a few years before moving the capital permanently to Nara, the government passed a law dictating what dress suited high ceremony, uniforms and mourning wear (the Taihou Code of 701), and only a few years after establishing the new capital, the Yourou Clothing Code of 718 was passed, declaring that collars must be crossed left over right, in accordance with the Chinese way of dressing. [3] Empress Genmei and her successors developed Nara into a center of modernity, religion, and innovation where she emulated many aspects of the Chinese culture and incorporated them into the Japanese society. [8] Before Tokyo or Kyoto, Heijo-kyo, otherwise known as modern-day Nara, was the capital of Japanese civilization between approximately AD 710-794. [1]

During the Meiji period, terms were coined in order to distinguish the old Japanese way of dressing ( wafuku ) from the newly adopted Western dress ( yofuku ). [7] According to period documents, dress at Japan's imperial court followed that of China's at this time, with rank indicated by color. [7] This proposed the widely held belief that those of lower ranking, who were perceived to be of less clothing due to their casual performance of manual labor, were not protected in the way that the upper class were in that time period. [12] It is also during this period that family crests are thought to have first appeared on clothing. [7] We will explore the main characteristics of the architecture, clothing, and other forms of art from this period. [8]

The imperial city of Kyoto became the capital again with the advent of the Nambokuchô era (1333-1392), a period marked by clashes between rival military clans. [7] There are few extant garments from the Kamakura era (1185-1333), and the period literature is not very rich on the subject of costume. [7] A costume history of this period cannot be based on extant garments, as extremely few examples have survived. [7]

Before the Yayoi period (300BC - 700AD), people used to wear a tubular dress with holes to put their arms through, like a sack dress. [2] During the Kamakura period (1185-1133) with the rising influence of the military class and warriors, people had no need for elaborate kimono. [2] By the time of the Yayoi period, people mainly wore a top and a bottom. [2] The Obi is similar to a belt as it wraps around the final layer of the traditional robe to help in keeping all of the layers together for a long period of time. [12]

The year 552 is considered the official date for the introduction of Buddhism in Japan and marked the first year of the Asuka period (552-710). [7] During the Edo period, Japan was divided into feudal states. [2]

Photograph of a man and lady wearing traditional clothing, taken in Osaka, Japan. [12] Bright colors were the dominant tones in men's clothing in Japan. [3]

Traditional fashion gradually transformed to best suit Japanese people lifestyles, as their clothing became more practical, light, and self-expressive. [12] In later Japanese traditional dress, several of these early modes of clothing were to be reflected in the costumes of the No theater. [7] In more recent years, the word has been used to refer specifically to traditional Japanese clothing. [2]

Japanese traditional fashion combines multiple styles that reflect early Japan's visual culture. [12] The most well known form of Japanese traditional fashion is the kimono (translates to "something to wear"), but other types include the yukata and the hakama. [12] For the more sophisticated urban population, and especially men, traditional Japanese dress ceased to be a part of everyday wear until eventually the use of traditional dress was relegated to Buddhist temples and monasteries Shinto shrines No, kyôgen, and Kabuki theater tea ceremony and other traditional arts such as flower arranging and the imperial court. [7] Whereas ample archaeological evidence exists in China of extant garments, ceramic sculptures, and tomb paintings, giving a credible view of Chinese costume history across several centuries before the advent of the Common Era, a verifiable history of Japanese dress does not begin until the eighth century C.E. [7] Japanese dress was to mimic the Chinese mode in this and in other ways soon thereafter. [7] With the adoption of the imperial title tennō, translated from the Chinese t’ien-huang, or "heavenly emperor," the Chinese concept of the emperor as the supreme symbol of central government rule was incorporated into the native Japanese interpretation of the emperor as also the leading Shintō cult figure. [6] Like its T’ang Chinese prototype, the Japanese central government consisted of a Council of State (Dajōkan) and ministries of Rites, Personnel, Public Works, War, Justice, and Revenue. [6] Chinese language and literature were studied intensively the Chinese characters were adapted to the Japanese language and numerous Chinese manuscripts, particularly Buddhist scriptures, were copied. [6]

The elevation of handcrafted works made by simple-living country people and minorities on the fringe of Japanese society did not fit with conventional ideas of social hierarchy in Japan. [7] A Japanese family also might don kimono when participating in special national and regional festivals or when relaxing after bath time at a traditional inn. [7] These developments continue to influence Japanese color theory into modern times. [3] Japanese fashion designers: the work and influence of Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo. n.p.: Oxford New York: Berg, 2011., 2011. [12] Fashionable Tang Dynasty ladies wore their skirts tied over their robes (unlike when China first contacted the Japanese, when fashion dictated that jackets and shirts should drape over the top of skirts), and so Japanese women began to follow this trend. [3] After the agekubi robes left the world of everyday dress for men of the court, they were left with the crossed-collar mode worn by women and lower-class Japanese. [3] Japanese Woman in Traditional Dress Posing Outdoors by Suzuki Shin'ichi, ca. 1870s. [12] Silk remains the fiber of choice for traditional Japanese dress. [7] Japanese street fashion emerged in the 1990s and differed from traditional fashion in the sense that it was initiated and popularized by the general public, specifically teenagers, rather than by well known fashion figures/designers. [12] The Japanese are often recognized for their traditional art and its capability of transforming simplicity into creative designs. [12] Those who championed the idea of mingei can be thought of as the East Asian inheritors of the Arts and Crafts movement, although they did not have to insist on the importance of handicraft, as did their Western predecessors, because in the traditional Japanese distinctions between fine and decorative arts were not emphatic. [7]

Helen Craig McCullough's Classical Japanese Prose contains many excerpts of Heian era writings, mostly by female authors, as well as several early Kamakura era writings (mostly by authors who had witnessed the end of the Heian Period), including the Gossamer Journal by Michitsuna's Mother, Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book, and a selection of short stories from the middle to late Heian Period. [3] The Heian Period was the longest, most stable period of Japanese history, lasting nearly 400 years and promoting the development of a uniquely Japanese culture. [3]

Kuukai in particular is credited with bringing the Siddham script to Japan, as his handwriting has been particularly venerated throughout Japanese history (all of the other monks on the same mission surely also learned and practiced Siddham, after all!). [3]

The Kimono (着物), labeled the "national costume of Japan", is the most formal and well-known form of traditional fashion. [12] From the intricate patterns to the layers of fabric, the essence of beauty that was found in traditional wear has influenced the modern fashion that is immersed in Japan's community on a daily basis, specially found in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. [12] Such dress would not be suitable for Japan's long months of warm and humid weather, and a life on horseback would have been unlikely in mountainous Japan. [7] The archaeological record in Japan yields little in the way of human imagery until the fifth century C.E. Prior to that time representations of stick figures found on pottery shards and bronze bells allow for the hypothesis that a long tunic-like garment, belted at the waist, may have been a common form of dress. [7] The history of Buddhist dress in Japan, as embodied in the religion's principal ritual garment, a patchwork mantle ( kesa ), illustrates the theme of importation and adaptation. [7] This city was an important point of the Silk Road, became a center of Buddhist worship in Japan and is also known for the Heijo Palace, home of Empress Genmei. [8] The different styles have been produced, expressed, and transformed by artists well known in Japan, including fashion designers Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Rei Kawakubo. [12] Different forms of street fashion have been socially categorized based on geography and style, such as the Lolita in Harajuku (原宿) or the Ageha of Shibuya (渋谷), all of them being based in the popular shopping districts of Tokyo, Japan. [12]

Buddhism had its origins more than a thousand years earlier in India, spread to China by the beginning of the Common Era, and finally reached Japan by way of Korea. [7] In the 8th century, many technologies and cultural aspects of neighboring China were brought to Japan. [8] Geisha, still an institution in Japan at the start of the twenty-first century, were still expected to entertain in kimono. [7] During the latter part of the twelfth century, the base of power in Japan shifted away from the increasingly decadent, self-absorbed imperial court in Kyoto to provincial military clans who chose the town of Kamakura as their headquarters. [7]

Buddhists and elite samurai families sold off quantities of kesa and No costumes, ultimately enriching museum and private collections in Japan and the West. [7] The Shôsôin costumes are very likely representative of diverse types of Asian dress then in use, and any number of them may well have been made outside of Japan. [7] Color has always been a very important indicator of rank throughout Japan. [2]

It was not uncommon for a Japanese housewife to attend kimono school in order to better understand how to select and properly wear a kimono and its most important accessory, the obi. [7] The uchikake is a type of kimono coat worn by Japanese brides on their wedding day. [12]

Pattern-dyed designs were to become one of the most important creative expressions in later Japanese dress. [7] Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo were Japanese fashion designers who shared similar tastes in design and style, their work often considered to be difficult to differentiate by the public. [12] Tang Dynasty fashion also influenced the Japanese to begin wearing skirts and pants over their robes, a style which persists to modern day. [3]

Nara became a very powerful center of Buddhist influence, exercising greater and greater influence over the Imperial family, much to the chagrin of the Fujiwara clan, the traditional center of power over the emperor. [3] Through the Nara and the Heian eras (8th-12th century), the nobility ( kuge ) constituted the ruling class, and learning and culture were the concern primarily of the kuge and the Buddhist monks. [6] The government ordered the construction of seven Buddhist temples in the city of Nara. [8] After moving the capital permanently to Nara, the government passed a law dictating that collars must be crossed left over right, in accordance with the Chinese way of dressing. [2] Nara, the country’s first permanent capital, was modeled on the Chinese T’ang dynasty (618-907) capital, Ch’ang-an. [6]

In 710 the imperial capital was shifted a short distance from Asuka to Nara. [6] The new capital was called Heijō-kyō and is known today as Nara. [6] It began when a new capital was established in a city later known as Nara. [8]

If you have access to a car, our reporter also recommends taking an approximately 15-minute drive from the shop to pose in front of several reconstructed structures of Heijo Palace, also known as the Nara Imperial Palace. [1] Nara artisans produced refined Buddhist sculpture and erected grand Buddhist temples. [6] Tang Dynasty women showing the high fashion of the day, then copied by Nara ladies. [3]

Liza Dalby's Kimono: Fashioning Culture is an excellent resources on clothing and history (specifically Heian and Meiji culture), and is very readable. [3] Issey Miyake is most known for crossing boundaries in fashion and reinventing forms of clothing while simultaneously transmitting the traditional qualities of the culture into his work. [12] The clothing that embodies the culture represents Japan's traditional values that remain in their community to this day. [12] People of high stature wore suits and dresses, and the traditional kimono was reserved for special occasions only, no longer part of daily clothing requirements. [2] Traditional clothing often included a variety of colors in their time, and their use of "the absence of color" provoked multiple critics to voice their opinions and criticize the authenticity of their work. [12] You can mix and match your costume from various pieces of clothing found within the shop. Take some time to choose the perfect colors that suit you from dozens of vivid hues. [1] Clothing was also influenced by the Chinese fashion of the times. [8] Loose-fitting, wide-sleeved, floor-length Chinese robes, the other dominant elite mode of dress on the continent, were the antithesis of this kind of nomadic clothing. [7] Further articles of clothing, such as a jacket, skirt-like pants ( hakama ), and an apron worn at the back completed women's court dress. [7] The most well-known clothing of the Heian period is the juunihitoe, or 'twelve layered robe', worn by the highest-ranked ladies of the Imperial Court. [3] By the Edo period (1603-1868), No costumes were being made specifically for use on the stage however, for the most part the costume styles did not change and continued to reflect the clothing of earlier periods. [7]

Our reporter Masami, whom we sent to check out the new store, was incredibly pleased with this particular style of dress as it was very easy to move around in, unlike the 12-layered "junihitoe" kimono worn by court ladies of the subsequent Heian period (AD 794-1185). [1] Men's ensembles varied mostly in color and design between court ranks, according to the ranking system in use in the Heian Period, the Court Rank System of 701 introduced by Emperor Tenno. [3] Now, the only people wearing the round-necked robes of the early Heian Period (aside from historical re-enactors) are members of the Imperial family during their marriages, or during the investiture of a new Emperor. [3]

A woman's ability to put together a well-coordinated ensemble, sensitive to the passing seasons and elegantly displaying forbidden colors or specially granted brocades was far more important than her physical beauty, and the sight of sleeves became a popular romantic motif in poetry, novels, and art from the Heian Period. [3] I'll likely go more in-depth about color in another Hub--many of these color traditions still hold (i.e. bright colors in winter, pale pastels in spring, light, cool colors in summer, dark, warm tones in fall), but some have changed (i.e. in the Heian period, bright red hakama indicated a married woman, while a darker maroon indicated an unmarried girl in modern kimono 'grammar', bright red is a child's color while dark colors indicate a grown woman of refined taste). [3]

Male dress of the Heian period retained the narrow, round tunic-like collar reflecting the earlier period of influence from the Asian mainland, and men also wore a skirt-like trouser and an underrobe or two. [7] The same term had been used for the plain silk robe worn next to the skin and under layers of voluminous garments in the Heian period. [7]

The materials, colors, and layers used for the clothing differentiate them and their significance, as the looks are also often worn seasonally. [12] With traditional clothing, specific techniques are used and followed, such as metal applique, silk embroidery, and paste- resist. [12]

Western dress was adopted, with the emperor and empress helping to set an example for the rest of the country by occasionally wearing Western clothing. [7] The kesa also reflected fashionable taste in a more indirect way as a result of the custom for lay Buddhists to donate valuable clothing to temples. [7] Stitching techniques and the fusion of colors also distinguished the wealthy from the commoner, as those of higher power had a tendency to wear ornate, brighter clothing. [12] The peasants and lower classes of the Heian era wore simple clothing, similar to the 'kosode' undergarments worn by the aristocrats. [3]

Japan's native religion, Shintoism, coexisted with Buddhism, in keeping with a continuous theme in Japanese history of borrowing from the outside while preserving the most valued native traditions and ultimately transforming foreign ways into something uniquely Japanese. [7] Paul Varley's Japanese Culture is an excellent overview of Japanese history, with specific attention paid to the influence of Buddhism on Japanese culture. [3]

Such costumes did, however, change their over-all sleeve shape from oblong to squarish in response to an Edo period trend, and certain No robes with embroidered designs were occasionally influenced by contemporary fashion styles. [7] During the Edo period, most kosode -category costumes still preserved Muromachi and Momoyama period styles. [7] Kabuki costumes of the early twentieth century continued to resemble those of the Edo period. [7]


When the capital was moved to Kyoto at the end of the period it was destroyed, which was common practice in Japan. [5] In 995 there was a dangerous epidemic of measles (a new disease to Japan at the time) and 8 out of the 14 sangi level counselors died during a period of months. [27] Long before Karl Marx became a man of political renown he was an historian, and in Japan in the period after the Second World War it is fair to say that the majority of historians have been Marxist. [5] Late in the period Japan entered into direct diplomatic relations with the Manchurian kingdom of Po-hai, which claimed to be a successor state of Koguryo, and which controlled much of what is today North Korea, so that it could communicate directly with Japan by ship across the Japan Sea. [5] In the early days two or three thousand conscripts from eastern Japan were sent to serve as coast guards in Kyushu, but this was abandoned rather early in the period. [5] With more than 1,200 years of history as the imperial capital of Japan (794-1867), the lavish, elegant life of the nobles of the Heian period was perhaps Japan's finest period. [28]

Society became based on clans and was ruled overall by the Emperor of Japan whose capital was in Yamato province, now known as Nara. [5] Nara, or more correctly Heijokyo, as it was known then, was made the capital of Japan from 710 to 784 CE, after which time it was relocated to Nagaokakyo. [11] Nara, located around 30 km south of modern Kyoto, was the capital of ancient Japan between 710 and 784 CE. It gave its. [11] Kasuga Taisha is an ancient Shinto shrine located in a forest east of Nara, capital of Japan between 710 and 784 CE. Founded. [11] A statue of Hachiman is ceremoniously transferred from the Shinto Usa shrine to the Buddhist Todaiji shrine in Nara, Japan. [11] Balhae sent its first mission in 728 to Nara, which welcomed them as the successor state to Goguryeo, with which Japan had been allied until Silla unified the Three Kingdoms of Korea. [5] Bohai sent their first mission across the Sea of Japan to Nara in 728. [5]

Overall, the history of Nara coinage provides solid evidence of the fact that the Japanese domestic economy was still primitive by Chinese standards, which demonstrates in turn that the administrative system that was adopted was much more complicated than would have been required by the demands of Japanese society alone, and could scarcely have evolved without the impulse to attempt to raise Japan to the level of civilization attained by Korea and China. [5] POSSIBLY USEFUL The establishment of Nara, modeled on a Chinese capital, with lavish palaces and accumulated wealth, influenced by Buddhist thought and Chinese culture, brought about a dramatic alienation of Japanese aristocracy from the Japanese population. [5] The Japanese capital is moved from Fujiwarakyo to Nara (aka Heijokyo). [11] The Buddhist Kofukuji temple is established at Nara, main temple of the Japanese Fujiwara clan. [11] The first authentically Japanese gardens were built in the city Nara at the end of the eighth century. [5] Although resonating with foreign influence, the Nara culture remained uniquely Japanese. [5]

The Ryukyus were not made a part of Japan until the 19th century and did not come under Japanese political control until the 17th century. [27] The word kimono literally means "clothing", and up until the mid 19th century it was the form of dress worn by everyone in Japan. [17]

Date favoured by historians for the founding of the Kasuga Taisha Shinto shrine at Nara, Japan. [11] The capital at Nara, which gave its name to the new period, was styled after the grand Chinese Tang dynasty (唐, 618-907) capital at Chang'an (長安). [5] The Nara era lasted from about 710 to 794 CE, and marks the period where the capital of Nihon moved to Heijo-kyo (Nara city), which was modeled after the capital city of Tang China. [5] The early Heian period (794-967) continued Nara culture the Heian capital was patterned on the Chinese capital at Chang'an, as was Nara, but on a larger scale. [5] The Nara era ends when the capital moves from Nara (Heijōkyō 平城京 ) to Kyoto (Heian 平安 ), and the subsequent Heian Period begins. [5] One characteristic of the Nara and Heian periods is a gradual decline of Chinese influence which, nevertheless, remained strong. [5] The general rule throughout the Nara and Heian periods was that each politically important clan would have just one man in the Dajokan at a time, though the Fujiwara were frequently able to violate this rule and have several. [5] Each be specialized in a skilled task such as farming, warfare, shamanism, etc. Some of the most skilled of the important and difficult be such as metallurgy, who typically consisted or recent immigrants from the Korean peninsula, joined the lower ranks of the aristocracy in the Nara and Heian periods. [5]

RANKED SELECTED SOURCES(36 source documents arranged by frequency of occurrence in the above report)


Welcome to Explore Nihon

Hello! How are you? It’s nice to meet you. My name is Sam.

If you’re looking for an introduction into Japanese and the history and culture behind the language, you’re in the right place. I’m a firm believer that to understand your target language you need to get familiar with the culture and history behind it. There are certain concepts that you will be able to understand better because you have background knowledge. In my future posts, I will talk about formal and informal language. Japanese has both, and there are different ways to talk to different people. But why? The answer to this question lies in Japanese culture. There is a strict social hierarchy that dictates how you speak to people. You talk to strangers and your friends very differently. Sort of how we change how we talk depending on the situation. You wouldn’t talk to your friends the same way you do to your boss. Except it isn’t as noticeable in English.

In my next post get ready to start with the very basics. We’ll start going over premodern history. I’m currently taking my second Japanese history course, which is about modern Japan. Premodern Japan was the first one. So, everything I go over will be what I learned in that class, plus what I read in the textbook. Japan has a vast history that is very interesting and unique. The Jomon Period started around 14500 BCE. Compared to the US’s nearly 250 years, Japanese history is extensive.

I will leave you with one thing before I go. What is one Japanese word that most people know? Its Sushi, or すし(寿司), す(su) し(shi).


Part 2: Prehistory

Jomon c. 8,000-300 BC

The evidence of chipped stone tools suggests that humans inhabited Japan at least 30,000 years ago. “Neolithic” cultures called “Jomon” (that still retained stone tool traits of earlier periods), date to at least 10,000 BC. The Jomon people were hunters and gatherers who lived upon the rich resources of game, fish, and wild plants native to post-Ice Age Japan. One of the unusual features of Jomon culture is pottery—the oldest reliably dated on earth. By 8,000 BC a type of cord-wrapped pottery—with decorated lines made by wrapping or laying cords on wet clay – developed. Other clay objects are the so-called dogu (“earth god”) figurines. These are small statues that look something like “extra-terrestrials” (or Pokemon cartoon figures!) that may have been used in fertility worship. Always few in number, the Jomon peoples seem to have been centered on the Kanto plain area of Honshu island.

A dogu “earth god” figurine

Jomon pottery with rope design

Yaoyoi Period c. BC 300- AD 300

Japan first appears in the historical records of China in about 300 BC. In those records the inhabitants of Japan were known as the “Wa.” The records tell of a Queen named Pimiko (Himiko) who had a tribal domain in the southwest areas of Honshu and Kyushu. According to the accounts she lived in a hill-top fortress and was waited upon by 1,000 young women. Her brother handled communications outside the walls, acting as a sort of regent. The queen may have had a dual role as a type of shaman with links to the spirit world. It is not known if she was related to the gods. Eventually, Japanese emperors would trace descent directly to the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, who along with her brother, were instrumental in the creation story of Japan.

The Sun Goddess Amaterasu emerges from her cave and dances

During the Yayoi period a number of new technological and agricultural elements arrived from the Asian mainland, most probably by boat from the Korean peninsula. Among the new cultural attributes were wet-rice agriculture, bronze and iron, new styles of pottery, livestock, and a whole host of cultural patterns having to do with village and elite life. Most likely, these elements of culture were carried to Japan by waves of immigrants who settled around the land, gradually displacing or absorbing the native populations. It is unclear how the aboriginal Ainu fit into the picture of these early periods of Japan, but warfare with displaced tribes continued for centuries.


  • 710 (Wadō 3): Japan's capital city was established in Nara (Heijō-kyō). Δ]
  • 712 (Wadō 5): The Kojiki was finished. Ε]
  • 720 (Yōrō 4): Nihon Shoki completed. Ζ]
  • 749-752 (Tenpyō-shōhō 1-4): Emperor Shōmu orders the creation of a large statue of Buddha (Daibutsu) at Tōdai-jiΗ]
  • 760 (Tenpyō-hōji 4): Man'yōshū completed. ⎖]
  • 784 (Enryaku 3): The emperor moves the capital to Nagaoka⎗]
  • 788 (Enryaku 7): The Buddhist monk Saichō⎘] establishes a monastery on Mt Hiei
  • December 17, 794 (Enryaku 13, 21st day of the 10th month): The Emperor moves by carriage in a grand procession from Nara to Heian-kyō. ⎙]
  1. ↑ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. pp. 698-699. ISBN𧓒-0-674-01753-5 . https://books.google.com/?id=p2QnPijAEmEC&pg=PA698 .  
  2. ↑Library of Congress Country Studies, Japan,"Nara and Heian Periods" retrieved 2011-11-22.
  3. ↑Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 56.
  4. ↑ Jien; Delmer Myers Brown, Ichirō Ishida (1979). 愚管抄: A Translation and Study of the Gukansho, an Interpretative History of Japan Written in 1219. University of California Press. p. 271. ISBN𧓒-0-520-03460-0 . https://books.google.com/?id=w4f5FrmIJKIC&pg=PA271 .  
  5. ↑ Ellington, Lucien. (2009). Japan, p. 28.
  6. ↑ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. p. 698. ISBN𧓒-0-674-01753-5 . https://books.google.com/?id=p2QnPijAEmEC&pg=PA698 .  
  7. ↑ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. p. 545. ISBN𧓒-0-674-01753-5 . https://books.google.com/?id=p2QnPijAEmEC&pg=PA545 .  
  8. ↑ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. p. 710. ISBN𧓒-0-674-01753-5 . https://books.google.com/?id=p2QnPijAEmEC&pg=PA710 .  
  9. ↑ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. pp. 136-137. ISBN𧓒-0-674-01753-5 . https://books.google.com/?id=p2QnPijAEmEC&pg=PA136 .  
  10. ↑ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. p. 608. ISBN𧓒-0-674-01753-5 . https://books.google.com/?id=p2QnPijAEmEC&pg=PA608 .  
  11. ↑ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. p. 682. ISBN𧓒-0-674-01753-5 . https://books.google.com/?id=p2QnPijAEmEC&pg=PA682 .  
  12. ↑ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. p. 805. ISBN𧓒-0-674-01753-5 . https://books.google.com/?id=p2QnPijAEmEC&pg=PA805 .  
  13. ↑ Jien; Delmer Myers Brown, Ichirō Ishida (1979). 愚管抄: A Translation and Study of the Gukansho, an Interpretative History of Japan Written in 1219. University of California Press. p. 279. ISBN𧓒-0-520-03460-0 . https://books.google.com/?id=w4f5FrmIJKIC&pg=PA279 .  


Watch the video: Deer in Nara? Why? - The Nara PeriodEasy Japanese History (January 2022).