Finally, japanese learned about Buddhism by reading Chinese texts and built major temples throughout the city dream of Nara. Emperor Shōmu, who ruled during the middle of the nara period, was a devoutly religious man. He constructed the Great Buddha at Tōdaiji temple, still a popular tourist site today. Even the term we translate as emperor—in Japanese, tennō —was probably first used in the seventh century by japanese who wanted to assert the equality of their ruler with the emperor of China. Of course, these changes were not motivated solely by admiration for Tang society. Japanese elites used Chinese ideas about government to strengthen their own hold on power. They thereby created in the eighth century the most powerful state that had existed to date in the japanese islands. Emperor Kammu, who took the throne in 781, decided to abandon Nara for a new capital.
E., these years are referred to as the nara period. The japanese also adopted other aspects of Chinese society. During the seventh century, the court followed Chinese example by declaring all land to be the property of the state and attempting to distribute it to the people on the basis of a national census conducted every six years. They also devised and implemented law codes that drew upon—in some places, actually copied—Tang legal codes. In the early eighth century, the discovery of new sources of copper enabled the court to begin minting copper coins. These coins were almost identical in shape and design to Chinese cash. Officials also reorganized good government and created eight bureaucratic ministries that paralleled those in China.
The ways these political, social, religious, and economic developments interacted with and transformed each other are what make the heian period so fascinating and important. Japan before heian and the moving of the capital. For more than a century prior to the heian period, japan obsessed over things Chinese. Japanese envoys who visited Tang China found a magnificent civilization far more advanced than their own. Starting in the seventh century, japanese began trying to refashion their own country along Chinese lines. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the design of the largest pre-heian capital, a city called heijō-kyō. Modeled on the tang capital of Changan, heijō-kyō was laid out in a grid-like pattern, with streets running north-south and east-west. The imperial palace was built in the north so that the japanese emperor could face south and look out over his people, in keeping with Chinese ideas of geomancy. Because the capital was primarily located in heijō (modern Nara) between 710 and 784.
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Periods range in length from decades to industry centuries. The heian (pronounced hey ahn) period, from 794 to 1185. E., is one such period. During the heian period, an imperial court based in the capital of heian-kyō (modern kyoto) wielded the highest political authority in the land. The citys name means Capital of peace and Tranquility, and the heian period is usually remembered as having been an age of art, literature, and culture.
During these years, japanese developed a strong sense of native aesthetics. Female authors serving at court, women including Murasaki shikibu and sei shōnagon, created splendid literary works such. The tale of Genji and, the pillow book. Not everything was peaceful, however. Warriors also started to become important political figures in the heian period. In fact, these four centuries contain a tremendous amount of change. Over the course of the heian period, society moved from an interest in foreign things to native ones, from elite buddhism to religion for the common people, and from rule exclusively by those at court to power shared with the newly rising samurai.
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