01 Japanese History

#08 The Heian Period

Click here to go to the YouTube video

This time, let’s take a look at the Heian period. The Heian period is about 400 years from the time the capital of Japan was moved to Kyoto until the establishment of the samurai government in Kamakura.

In Nara’s Heijo-Kyo Capital, there was a power struggle between aristocrats and monks. Emperor Kammu decided to move the capital in an attempt to reorganize the government.

He moved the capital to Nagaoka-Kyo in 784, and then in 794, he built Heian-Kyo in present-day Kyoto. The capital of Japan was Kyoto until 1868 when it was moved to present-day Tokyo.

Emperor Kammu appointed Sakanoue-no-Tamuramaro as “Seii-Taishogun”, or the conqueror of the barbarians, and subjugated the Emishi in the northeast, Tohoku region. As a result, the rule of the imperial court spread to the whole of Honshu.

In the capital, the aristocratic Fujiwara clan came to power around the 9th century. The Fujiwara clan took control of the Imperial Court by making their daughters the emperor’s wives and placing their children in the position of an emperor from an early age.

In those days, it was a matriarchal society, and when a boy was born to be the emperor’s successor, he was raised in his mother’s family. Therefore, the grandfather of the Fujiwara clan was very powerful and had a great influence on the emperor.

When the emperor was young, the Fujiwara clan acted as regents, and when the emperor came of age, they acted as chief advisors to the emperor and continued to run the government as they wished. This was called the “regency government”.

The power of the Fujiwara clan reached its peak during the reign of Fujiwara-no-Michinaga in the first half of the 11th century. He had four daughters as wives of the emperor and held the actual power of politics for a long time.

Thank you for reading.

Let's learn about wonderful history and culture of Japan together!  全国通訳案内士(英語) 英検1級

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *