Heian sensibility in medieval japan, Humanities

Heian Sensibility in Medieval Japan

Emperor Kammu (794) moved capital from Nara to Heian (Kyoto).

Move to Heian Reassertion of power. Power shifted to Fujiwara clan.

Fujiwara Regency (9th-11th century)

         "Borrowed wombs" Serving as regions, marrying daughters into imperial family

         and children raised to be heirs are related to you.

         Michinaga (966-1027) gained power through "borrowed wombs". Was the brother-

         in-law to 2 emperors, father-in-law to another emperor, uncle of another emperor,

         region to grandfather: interested in holding on to their own power. Didn't become

         emperor himself because he wanted to exploit the prestige of the sungoddess clan

         of renovation, and role assigned to emperor are so full of schedule that they had no

         time to maintain power. Emperors had to reside over rituals and they were merely

         figureheads. Ruling from behind the scenes gave him advantage and opportunities:

         lucrative financial opportunities.

Shoens Japan like China relied on equal field system: nobles and certain households working for them. Many large estates gained tax-exempt status along with temples: the burden of having taxation fell more on peasants. Many lands were abandoned. Shoens became large and powerful, had total autonomy. Large estates absorbed much of the abandoned lands, and government had no jurisdiction over these shoens. Established their own police, jurisdiction. Nobles acted on behalf of shoens.

Shiki share nobles gained from shoen.

Honke nobles like Fujiwara who lobbied on the behalf of shoens.

Ryoke title holders of original estates.

Erosion of provincial governance shoens, tremendous economy and tax exempt status: what does that do to the central authority? Erodes power.

Last mission to China 838 Japan politics became more isolated, and domestically court was more and more removed from provinces. Overseas contact ended with the last mission to China. Fujiwara were interested in closing Japan off to the rest of the mainland Asia for power.

Tendai Sect one of the two main sects during Heian founded by Saicho (767-822). Shift towards private meditation. Based at Enryakuji on Mt. Hiei, Northwest of the capital. Strategically positioned - so that it would ward off evil spirits. Saicho was a monk who went to China and brought it back. Idea of trying to separate temples and court: initial intent, but late 9th century complex became real again. Focus on lotus sutra and the nembutsu.

         Temple of Enryakuji  "Treasure of the nation" own "standing army" called the

         Akuso or rowdy monks. Came down to capital to enforce the will of temple.

         Temple became huge.

         Lotus Sutra recitation of Amitabha Buddha to reach salvation of pure land.

         Nembutsu praise offered to Amitabha Buddha as a devotional act. Message of

         universal salvation - appealed more to the commoners; focused on rituals

Shingon another sect founded by Kukai (774-835) based on Mt. Koya. Emphasis on esoteric teachings and tantric practices.

         Esoteric Tantrism more exclusive and secretive than universal.

         Appeal to Heian elite Nationalistic appeal of Kukai: incorporate Shinto deity to

         this kind of worship; brought in as a means to protect Japan. Popular with the Heian


Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki, longest novel. "Literature of the parlor" Aesthetics of courtship. Symbolized inward turning, solipsistic world of Heian Japan.

Miyabi courtly culture of interior space: detachment from outside world. The Heian sensibility defined by what is called miyabi. Mono no aware: "capacity to be moved by things"

Lady Murasaki wrote the Tale of Genji

Aesthetics of courtship How in Heian Japan turned the ritual courtship into art; courtship: romance - how men treated women was art. Tale of Genji is good example.

Posted Date: 2/28/2013 1:57:25 AM | Location : United States

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