We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries

Mikael S. Adolphson, Edward Kamens, & Stacie Matsumoto (eds.)

Publication Year: 2007

The first three centuries of the Heian period (794–1086) saw some of its most fertile innovations and epochal achievements in Japanese literature and the arts. It was also a time of important transitions in the spheres of religion and politics, as aristocratic authority was consolidated in Kyoto, powerful court factions and religious institutions emerged, and adjustments were made in the Chinese-style system of ruler-ship. At the same time, the era’s leaders faced serious challenges from the provinces that called into question the primacy and efficiency of the governmental system and tested the social/cultural status quo. Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries, the first book of its kind to examine the early Heian from a wide variety of multidisciplinary perspectives, offers a fresh look at these seemingly contradictory trends. Essays by fourteen leading American, European, and Japanese scholars of art history, history, literature, and religions take up core texts and iconic images, cultural achievements and social crises, and the ever-fascinating patterns and puzzles of the time. The authors tackle some of Heian Japan’s most enduring paradigms as well as hitherto unexplored problems in search of new ways of understanding the currents of change as well as the processes of institutionalization that shaped the Heian scene, defined the contours of its legacies, and make it one of the most intensely studied periods of the Japanese past.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (41.3 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (45.2 KB)
pp. v-vi

maps, figures, and tables

pdf iconDownload PDF (43.9 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (32.5 KB)
pp. ix-x

Born as an afterthought following the conclusion of the Association for Asian Studies conference in San Diego in March of 2000, this project began in earnest in September of that year, when a planning group, consisting of Mikael Adolphson, G. Cameron Hurst III, Edward Kamens, Stacie Matsumoto, Joan Piggott, and Mimi Yiengpruksawan, convened to propose a conference on Heian Japan. ...

read more

Terminology and Translations

pdf iconDownload PDF (787.0 KB)
pp. xi

In Japanese studies, scholars within the same field frequently disagree on appropriate usages and translations, perhaps much more so if they belong to different disciplines. In our view, this is not necessarily a weakness since variations may in fact indicate the actual historical usage of a term and point out the differences more clearly between modern and premodern linguistic usages. Thus, ...

read more

1. Between and Beyond Centers and Peripheries

pdf iconDownload PDF (99.3 KB)
pp. 1-12

This particular part of the Heian period saw some of its most fertile innovations and epochal achievements in literature and the arts, much of the process of the consolidation of aristocratic authority in Kyoto, the emergence of powerful court factions and religious institutions, and important adjustments in the Chinese- style system of rulership as well. At the same time, the era’s leaders faced ...

Part I. Locating Political Centers and Peripheries

read more

2. From Female Sovereign to Mother of the Nation: Women and Government in the Heian Period

pdf iconDownload PDF (632.4 KB)
pp. 15-34

This context seems to be unique to ancient Japan as one is unlikely to find this many female rulers during such an extended period in other premodern societies. Still, scholars have until now understood female sovereigns primarily as interim rulers, who came to reign when confusion surrounded the succession of a male to the throne or when the heir was still a child. According to this view, female sovereigns wielded little actual power ...

read more

3. Court and Provinces under Regent Fujiwara no Tadahira

pdf iconDownload PDF (229.4 KB)
pp. 35-65

... of many of the precedents and protocols that came to structure these offices of court leadership, making Tadahira’s a particularly important historical moment. In this volume dedicated to better understanding the relations between center and periphery up to the late eleventh century, it is important to consider how Regent Tadahira presided over provincial administration. Well documented as his activities are in various types of records including entries from his own ...

read more

4. Kugyō and Zuryō: Center and Periphery in the Era of Fujiwara no Michinaga

pdf iconDownload PDF (277.1 KB)
pp. 66-102

that constituted the conceptualized polity. Indeed, the very existence of a state presupposes control over the human and material resources of the space thought to constitute the geographical area of that conceptualized state. This was never an easy task for Japanese rulers, despite the insular character of Japan that seems to lend itself to simple mapping of a discrete geopolitical entity. Recall, for example, the court’s hard-fought campaigns against the Emishi ...

Part II. Shifting Categories in Literature and the Arts

read more

5. The Way of the Literati: Chinese Learning and Literary Practice in Mid-Heian Japan

pdf iconDownload PDF (193.6 KB)
pp. 105-128

... have long been reluctant to seriously take into account texts written in Chinese, or Sino-Japanese. While this peripheral position of Chinese texts is shifting, it is necessary to restate the obvious: insofar as the written word is concerned, premodern and early modern Japan was a bilingual country. The marginalization of Chinese some two centuries ago resulted in a fading awareness of a large cultural heritage. ...

read more

6. Terrains of Text in Mid-Heian Court Culture

pdf iconDownload PDF (728.1 KB)
pp. 129-152

From just such frequently cited passages as these, in a variety of literary texts of the Heian period, scholars have constructed an image of cultural practices configured by conspicuous borders that barred or at least strongly deterred women from encounters with “Chinese” texts, while men remained free to move at will across and among a variety of textual domains. Such passages, juxtaposed ...

read more

7. The Buddhist Transformation of Japan in the Ninth Century: The Case of Eleven-Headed Kannon

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.6 MB)
pp. 153-176

An assessment of this artistic evidence reveals that Buddhist sculpture in Japan underwent a number of momentous transformations at the start of the Heian period. One was primarily technical; wood replaced bronze, clay, and lacquer as the primary medium of the sculptor’s craft. A second transformation was iconographic; images of deities only occasionally worshiped in the previous ...

Part III. Establishing New Religious Spheres

read more

8. Scholasticism, Exegesis, and Ritual Practice: On Renovation in the History of Buddhist Writing in the Early Heian Period

pdf iconDownload PDF (315.9 KB)
pp. 179-211

Until the early ninth century, the exegetic texts written by Japanese Buddhist scholars were concerned entirely with doctrinal issues. By contrast, by the mid-tenth century, the great majority of Buddhist commentarial texts had their focus on ritual practices, especially on the rituals of esoteric Buddhism, the ritual practices that became integral within the management of the Heian court and the courtiers’ lives. To appraise ...

read more

9. Institutional Diversity and Religious Integration: The Establishment of Temple Networks in the Heian Age

pdf iconDownload PDF (364.0 KB)
pp. 212-244

Although not quite as enduring, political and religious institutions as well as ideologies created and developed in the ninth and tenth centuries similarly lasted much beyond the Heian age itself, some even until the late sixteenth century. For example, warriors vied for court titles in the fourteenth century, and legitimacy from the imperial court was still of tremendous ...

read more

10. The Archeology of Anxiety: An Underground History of Heian Religion

pdf iconDownload PDF (3.0 MB)
pp. 245-272

... Heian period has often been characterized as a golden age of Japanese religious culture, one in which the Buddhist literature, painting, sculpture, and architecture produced at court are considered to have reached unprecedented heights. It is thus all the more surprising that in this time of cultural florescence many Buddhists, monastics and aristocrats ...

Part IV. Negotiating Domestic Peripheries

read more

11. Famine, Climate, and Farming in Japan, 670 – 1100

pdf iconDownload PDF (228.0 KB)
pp. 275-304

This chapter will address three basic and seminal questions about food shortages in that era. First, how frequent and severe were they? The story of these crises in the early modern or Tokugawa period (1600 – 1868) is well-known, and many believe that they had widespread demographic, social, and political effects.1 Can the same be said for the ancient period? Second, what were the causes of crop failure? Consistent ...

read more

12. Life of Commoners in the Provinces: The Owari no gebumi of 988

pdf iconDownload PDF (569.0 KB)
pp. 305-328

... overlooked is that the local population in the provinces provided the food, clothing, and various supplies the elites needed to perform their daily duties. And although the commoners rarely appear in the historical sources or the literary works of the age, they were of central importance to the livelihoods of the central elites. This chapter focuses on provincial life and examines Heian ...

read more

13. Lordship Interdicted: Taira no Tadatsune and the Limited Horizons of Warrior Ambition

pdf iconDownload PDF (419.1 KB)
pp. 329-354

This incident, and the events that followed, rank among the most dramatic episodes in the early history of Japan’s warrior order. Masakado’s insurrection, some seven decades earlier, had climaxed with the protagonist’s claiming for himself the title New Emperor. Tadatsune’s reach did not extend so far, but his grasp held the provinces of the Bōsō peninsula — Kazusa ...

Part V. Placing Heian Japan in the Asian World

read more

14. Cross-border Traffic on the Kyushu Coast, 794 – 1086

pdf iconDownload PDF (489.8 KB)
pp. 357-383

... crescent-shaped slice of land on the south side of Hakata Bay. The bay itself is a magnificent, sheltered body of water that opens to the northwest into the Genkai Sea, Japan’s gateway to continental Asia. Two natural stepping-stones, the islands of Iki and Tsushima, mark the sea route to Korea. The Korean Peninsula lies approximately two hundred kilometers northwest of Hakata but only fifty kilometers beyond Tsushima, from which it is visible on a ...

read more

15. Jōjin’s Travels from Center to Center (with Some Periphery in between)

pdf iconDownload PDF (848.9 KB)
pp. 384-414

... diplomatic ties with China as interest in Chinese culture waned and that it consisted of a well-defined center, its urbane and highly literate capital, surrounded by a vast uncouth, benighted periphery. When regarded as isolated, or at least semi-isolated, the Heian period is part of an implicit periodization scheme, often used but never systematically expressed, that divided Japan’s history into ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (219.8 KB)
pp. 415-438


pdf iconDownload PDF (240.7 KB)
pp. 441-448


pdf iconDownload PDF (59.4 KB)
pp. 439-440

E-ISBN-13: 9780824862817
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824830137

Publication Year: 2007