Insei period culture (院政期文化)

Insei period culture (culture during the period of the government by the Retired Emperor) or the culture of the end of the Heian period refers to Japanese culture from the end of Heian period, the latter half of the 11th century to the period when the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) was founded, the end of the 12th century. The Insei period was positioned as the transitional period in Japanese society history when the court noble force deteriorated while the samurai force was extended. From the cultural aspect, a new movement reflecting the mood of the period was seen.


The Insei period was the period when temples and shrines were becoming secular through Buddhism protection measures by Chiten no kimi (the retired emperor in power). On the other side, missionaries emerged who did not like the secularism of temples and shrines, did not belong to a particular temple or shrine and were called 'hijiri' (a saint) or 'shonin' (a high priest), and they brought the teachings of Jodo (Pure Land) sect to people from the capital, Kyoto through local regions.

Shirakawa (suburb of Kyoto) connecting Kyoto and Sakamoto which is an key port along Lake Biwa, was lined up with Rikushoji (The Six Victorious Temples). In Kitano-jinja Shrine, its vicinity and the southern suburb of Kyoto in the vicinity of Toba (suburb of Kyoto) where many detached palaces were built were becoming a new city with access to the Uji-gawa River or Yodo-gawa River. Kyoto at that time exhibited an aspect of a new city, and various arts were thriving there due to the strengthened imperial power. Since In (the Retired Emperor) wished to revive the ancient state, those arts practiced at that time added a nostalgic touch. In detached palaces or the hozo (treasure house) of a palace, treasure was collected from in and outside of the country, and the imperial power was represented by various means. Cultural products from local regions flowed into the capital more than ever before.

The central culture widely spread to local regions as well. Those tendencies were prominent in structural remnants from temple architecture such as; the Chuson-ji Temple Konjiki-do Hall (golden hall) in Hiraizumi in Tohoku region, the Shiramizu Amida-do Hall (temple hall having an enshrined image of Amitabha) in Mutsu Province, the Sanbutsu-ji Temple in Hoki Province, and Fuki-ji Temple in Bungo Province. The high standard in local regions at that time was recognized through Itsukushima-jinja Shrine in Aki Province that was associated with TAIRA no Kiyomori.

It was the Insei period when the interests of fallen court nobles moved to the common people or samurai, an emerging class. This is recognized through written military records, compiled stories, or subjects on a picture scroll, a new type of painting at the time. In addition, cultural interests including "Ryojin hisho" (folk song collection) compiled by Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa, or dengaku (a style of dancing and music performed in association with rice planting) that was very popular regardless of one's rank, were widely exchanged between court nobles and common people. On the other hand, nostalgic historical tales such as "Eiga monogatari" (A Tale of Flowering Fortunes) were created. A new trend could be seen in waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) as well.

Differences can also be seen in Japanese language during this period from that during the middle of the Heian period. Yoshio YAMADA separated the Insei period from the Heian period, and merged it together with the Kamakura period claiming it was more like the Kamakura period. He defined the term as 'Insei Kamakura period' for the Insei period, and this is widely accepted today. The conjugation system in bungotai (Japanese literary style), relating and ending rules, and distinction in forty seven kana (characters) that are taught in 'kobun' (Japanese classics) of Japanese language (subject) education, were based on the middle of the Heian period, and it can be said that it was during the Insei period that they started to collapse. The phonological distinction between 'o' and 'wo' was considered to have faded out around the end of the 11th century.

In general, Insei period culture was significantly characterized by the tendency for cultural interests of court nobles to be shifted from life in Kyoto to local regions, common people, past (history), and the eruption of samurai and popular culture.

How trends in Buddhism spread and Jodo sect

In Buddhism, after Shaka's death, three periods have been defined as follows; Shobo (Age of the Right Dharma), Zobo (Age of the Semblance Dharma) and Mappo (Age of the Final Dharma). The thought of Mappo was a destined historical standpoint advocating the deterioration and downfall of Buddhism based on the divided periods mentioned above. In the middle of the Heian period, the theory of 1,000 years for Shobo and Zobo was popular, and the year 1052 was considered to be the first year of Mappo.

The people who experienced public fear owing to the appearance of samurai, despotic acts by armed priest, a down fallen court noble force, and natural disasters such as extraordinary natural phenomenon, epidemics, fire became clearly aware of Mappo, and the concept of the impermanence or a pessimistic view of life among the population was intensified. Thus, Jodo sect who wished to go to Saiho Gokuraku Jodo - The West Pure Land of Amida Buddha after death became active, and this facilitated the popularity of Mappo thought.

Spread of the construction of kyozuka (mounds where sutras were buried)

As the Mappo period nears, Miroku (Maitreya) Belief that Miroko Bosatsu (Buddha of the Future, Bodhisattva of the Present) would come down to the earth to save people 5.67 billion years after Shaka's death was widespread. The people's wish to bury Buddhist scriptures in preparation for the rebirth of Miroko later caused the act to construct Kyozuka.

The oldest kyozuka that is known today is believed to be the one on the top of Mt. Kinpo in Yamato Province, in which a bronze sutra case with ganmon (prayer) inscribed on the outside by FUJIWARA no Michinaga that contained Konshi-kinji-kyo (sutras in gold on dark-blue paper) was buried. The year, 1007 was inscribed on the sutra case. Ever since then, kyozuka were increasingly being built especially during the period from the latter half of the 11th century through until the 12th century throughout the country. Originally, it was intended to preserve Buddhist scriptures based on Miroku Belief, but it gradually incorporated, from an early stage, motivations such as gokuraku ojo (peaceful death) and spiritual and material benefit gained in this world through observance of the Buddhist teachings.

To contain sutra, a ceramic crock, an earthenware pot, a bamboo or stone container were used as well as a bronze case. Bronze cases included circle cases, hexagonal cases, octagon cases, and some cases came with another external container.

Buddhism protection measures carried out by the three Retired Emperors

Emperors during the Sekkanseiji period (regency period) intensified their authority through hohei (offering a wand with hemp and paper streamers to a Shinto god) or by visits to shrines such as Ise-jingu Shrine, Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine, and Kamo-sha Shrine. During the Insei period, the three Retired Emperors; Emperor Shirakawa, Emperor Toba, and Emperor Goshirakawa entered into priesthood by their own will to become a priest, and intensified one's authority through Buddhism. Rikushoji including Hossho-ji Temple which Emperor Shirakawa had built were constructed in the eastern part near the Kamo-gawa River (Yodo-gawa River system), and in Shirakawa, one after the other. A large number of doto (temple and pagoda) including Amida-do Hall, many of which were built in Toba, Rakunan (south of the capital of Kyoto), and Buddha statues were built. Lavish hoe (Buddhist mass) was held, and they often went to Kii Province for pilgrimages to Kumano and to Mt. Koya. Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa had Sanjusangen-do Hall built with TAIRA no Kiyomori, and he stored treasures from the east and the west in the hozo there.

Secularism of temples and shrines

During the Insei period, large temples such as 'Nanto Hokurei' (temples in Nara and Mt. Hiei) became secular and powerful as a feudal lords of shoen (a manor in medieval Japan), taking advantage of Buddhist protection measures stated as above. Temples made many of shomin (people of the manor) and lower ranked priests arm as daishu (group of priests) (Buddhism), later known armed priest. They even filed a direct petition to realize their requirements. Nanto (southern capital - Nara) referred to as 'Nara-hoshi' and Hokurei (Mt. Hiei) were in fierce competition. The Sanmon school and Jimon school from the same Tendai sect competed for the position as Tendai-zasu (head priest of the Tendai sect). After 1081, a fire attack against Onjo-ji Temple by monk-soldiers from Enryaku-ji Temple occurred.

As the authority of the temples and shrines became secular, people often wanted to be internally saved, feeling the mood of Mappo. Thus, teaching by hijiri who didn't belong to temples and shrines were widespread.

Development of syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism

As patriotism through Buddhism was widespread, honji suijaku setsu (theory of original reality and manifested traces) that god turned into Buddha spread further. It was during the 12th century when a Buddhist pagoda was constructed in Kamo-sha Shrine or Kasuga-sha Shrine.

Kasuga Taisha Shrine, the private deity of the Fujiwara clan was united with Kofuku-ji Temple, which is an uji-dera temple (temple built for praying for the clan's glory) of the Fujiwara clan, due to the development of syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism. Direct petitions were often filed by the monk-soldiers of Kofuku-ji Temple from the end of the 11th century. Also, after 1093, 'shinboku-doza,' in which shinboku [sacred tree] to which the divine spirit shifted, was brought and presented to the capital, was often held. On the other hand, 'mikoshi doza,' in which a direct petition was filed by monk-soldiers of Enryaku-ji Temple carrying mikoshi (portable shrine carried in festivals) of Hiyoshi-Taisha Shrine, began in 1095.

Shugendo (Japanese mountain asceticism-shamanism incorporating Shinto and Buddhist concepts) was more active than ever before. Kumano Sanzan (three major shrines, Kumano-Hongu-Taisha, Kumano-Hayatama-Taisha and Kumano-Nachi-Taisha) in Kii Province, Mt. Yamato Katsuragi, Mt. Kinpu, in Yamato Province, Mt. Omine in Yamato Province, and Dewa Sanzan (Three Mountains of Dewa) in Dewa Province turned into the central place for Shugendo.

Active career of hijiri and shonin

The thought pf Mappo captivated the hearts of court nobles, and Amida-do Hall was constructed in various places. In fact, the seekers, so-called hijiri or shonin who had left their religious community or temples, and went into the mountain forest or wandered from place to place resumed their own activities; they spread the Jodo sect the most.

The hijiri were in charge of money related to students who attended temples for study. They often had a place called a Bessho for their activities, apart from the existing temples. It was Koya hijiri who had Mt. Koya as a Bessho.

While the hijiri mainly underwent training in mountain forest, or wandered among various provinces, they obtained respect and support from common people, through various activities including building temples, pagodas, copying of a sutra, kuyo (a memorial service for the dead), casting bells, promoting the building of bridges, roads, and harbors.

Foundation of Jodo sect

The Buddhism focusing on incantation and prayer, and study was beginning to change into a new Buddhism focusing on internal maturity for broad range of people including common people.

Honen who first learned religious doctrines of the Tendai sect preached the teachings of Senju Nenbutsu (the Single-Minded Recitation of the Nenbutsu) in 1175; everybody has an equal chance to go to heaven if one believed the oath of Amida Buddha and said the prayer of 'Namuamidabutsu,'
He was later respected as the founder of the Jodo sect, and was regarded as a pioneer of the Kamakura new Buddhism.

The teachings of Honen spread from court nobles in the central region including Kanezane KUJO of Sekkan-ke (the families which produced regents) through samurai or common people in local regions. The disciples of Honen were many, including Shinran who founded Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism). It was also Hoen who missioned women for the first time.

Amida-do Hall architecture

Amida-do Hall architecture is one of the indications that represent the nationwide expansion of the Jodo sect. Amida-do Hall was a Buddhist temple in which to put Amida Buddha, as shown in its name, and it was actively constructed after the Sekkan (regency) period. The common type is a squared hall whose side ranges from sangen (approx. 5.4 meters) to goken (nine meters) in length, being called 'Ikken shimen do' (一間四面堂), that centrally contains a square hall whose side is ikken (approx. 5.8 meters) in length in which to put Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata). Many such halls including Chuson-ji Temple Konjiki-do Hall, Shiramizu Amida-do Hall, Fuki-ji Temple O-do Hall were constructed across the nation. Hoo-do Hall (the Phoenix Pavilion) type is architecture modeled on a heavenly palace drawn in "Amida Jodo henso zu." On top of the Hoo-do Hall of the Byodo-in Temple during the Sekkan period, similar Buddhist temples were built on the Muryoko-in Temple site that FUJIWARA no Hidehira had built in Hiraizumi. Another was a rectangular Kutai-do Hall in which to put nine statues of Amida (Amitabha), and a Joruri-ji Temple Hondo (main hall) is the existing ancient structure that is remaining.

Chuson-ji Temple Konjiki-do Hall (Hiraizumi-cho, Iwate Prefecture, a national treasure)

This is Amida-do Hall architecture at Chuson-ji Temple; a squared hall whose side is sangen in length that shows the glory of the Oshu-Fujiwara clan for three generations, and is also called 'Hikarido' (Hall of Light). Its name came from the lacquered interior decorations with sprinkled Raden, with gold leaf. FUJIWARA no Kiyohira built it in 1124, and mummified dead bodies of FUJIWARA no Kiyohira, FUJIWARA no Motohira and FUJIWARA no Hidehira were put under the shumidan (a platform or dais for Buddhist image). In Hiraizumi, remains in Motsu-ji Temple that second generation Motohira had built, and the site of Kanjizai-oin that the wife of Motohira had built, has been preserved.

Shiramizu Amida-do Hall (Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, a national treasure)

This is officially described as the Ganjo-ji Temple Amida-do Hall. It is the Amida-do Hall which Tokuama (the younger sister of FUJIWARA no Hidehira), the wife of Norimichi IWAKI who was from a gozoku (local ruling family), had built in 1160 to pray to Buddha for happiness of her late husband, and it is a one-storied, hogyo-zukuri style (conical roof with no horizontal ridge beam) squared hall whose side is sangen in length. It is surrounded by mountains in the northern, eastern, western sides, and Jodo Teien (Pure Land Garden) with a large pond laid out in front of the southern part of the garden. The grounds surrounding the architecture is marvelous, and is highly valuable as an archaeological site. The name of Shiramizu (白水) was created by dividing the character of Izumi (泉) of Hiraizumi (平泉) into two.

Fuki-ji Temple (Bungotakada City, Oita Prefecture, a national treasure)

This is an example of Amida-do Hall architecture, a squared hall whose side is sangen in length, and it was reproduced by a gozoku in Bungo Province. It was built around 1158, and is the oldest wooden architecture in the Kyushu region that exists today. Amida Buddha in Jocho style is placed in the hall, and a gorgeous raigo-zu (image of the descent of Amida Buddha) are painted on the walls or columns. It was also called the Fuki-ji Temple Amida-do Hall.

Sanzen-in Temple (Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City, an important cultural property)

It was built within the premise of the Sanzen-in Temple. It is the Amida-do Hall whereby Shinnyobo-ni, the wife of Takamatsu Chunagon FUJIWARA no Sanehira had built in Ohara (Kyoto City) during 1148 to pray for the happiness of her dead husband. It has an unique interior space even for architecture of the Jodo sect. It was originally a different temple from Sanzen-in Temple.

Joruri-ji Temple Hondo (Main hall) (Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture, a national treasure)

This is the Kutai-do Hall built in 1107. It is elongated sideways in order to put nine statues of Amida Nyorai in line. Jodo Teien having a pond in the center was located within the temple in some green mountains. Its main hall and a three-storied pagoda have been preserved until today. The hall is precious since it is the only one in existence as a ruminant of a Kutai Amida-do Hall (Hall of Nine Amidas) of many that were built around Kyoto at that time.

Shiramizu Amida-do Hall (Fukushima Prefecture) and Fuki-ji Temple O-do Hall (Oita prefecture) are referred to as 'The three major Amida-do Halls,' together with Hoo-do Hall of Byodo-in Temple which FUJIWARA no Yorimichi had built in Uji City.

Other Buddhist architecture

Kake-zukuri (overhang method of construction) is a style of a building that was constructed on a slope or cliff, and part of its floor was supported by a long pole. Kiyomizu-dera Temple Main Hall during the early Edo period was a famous example in kake-zukuri, and syncretization of Shinto with Buddhism, especially, Shugendo derived from Mountain Buddhism, significantly contributed to the development of this unique style. In the Insei period, Nageire-do Hall of the Sanbutsu-ji Temple is particularly famous.

Rengeo-in Temple Main Hall (commonly called Sanjusangen-do Hall) in which to put 1,001 statues of Senju Kannon (Thousand Armed Avalokiteshwara) elongated sideways, and it is not the Amida-do Hall, but it can be regarded as one in larger Kutai-do Hall types.

Sanbutsu-ji Temple (Misasa-cho, Tottori Prefecture, a national treasure).

It is known as Nageire-do Hall of the Sanbutsu-ji Temple, or as Sanbutsu-ji Temple Zao-do Hall. It is the Oku no in (inner sanctuary) of Tendai sect Sanbutsu-ji Temple constructed around 1108. This is a small-size hall in kake-zukuri where the scaffolding poles were put into the hollow of a cliff. It is called 'Nageire-do Hall' and is located in a cliff on the mountain side of Mt. Mitoku around Chugoku mountain range; its name came from the story that Enno Ozunu (En no Gyoja) (a semi-legendary holy man noted for his practice of mountain asceticism during the second half of the seventh century) that was formerly regarded as an ancestor of Shugendo, made the hall by throwing building materials into the cliff from the air. Zao Gongen, the statue of Japanese unique noble character which was born from shugen (Japanese mountain asceticism-shamanism incorporating Shinto and Buddhist concepts), is enshrined in the hall.

Sanjusangen-do Hall (Sanjusangen-do Hall) (Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, a national treasure)

After the Heiji War, TAIRA no Kiyomori was trusted by Retired Emperor Goshirakawa, and constructed and operated Rengeo-in Temple near Hoju-ji Temple Gosho (palace). TAIRA no Kiyomori placed 1,001statues of Senju Kannon in its main hall (Sanjusangen-do Hall), and stored his treasures from the east and west in its hozo. It stored numerous collections of the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa, who stood in the center of entertainment such as production of various emakimono (illustrated scroll) and collection of imayo (a popular style of song during the Heian period).

Taima-dera Temple Hondo (Main hall) (Katsuragi City, Nara Prefecture, a national treasure)

It was also called Taima-dera Temple Mandala-do Hall. Yosemune-zukuri (a square or rectangular building, covered with a hipped roof), hongawara-buki (roof with formal tiles). It was identified as architecture of 1161 through the ink inscriptions of ridgepoles (materials of the hall that had stood there prior to that time were also used). Taima mandala is enshrined within.

Kakurin-ji Temple (Kakogawa City) Taishi-do Hall (Kakogawa City, Hyogo Prefecture, a national treasure)

Kakurin-ji Temple was the Tendai sect temple which was said to be constructed by Prince Shotoku, and Taishi-do Hall was originally constructed as Hokke-do Hall. It was in hogyo-zukuri style and was hiwada-buki (cypress bark roof), and it was identified to be the architecture in 1112 through the ink writing of roofs. Jogyo-do Hall used for training of nenbutsu-zanmai (mental absorption in the nenbutsu) is regarded as architecture during the end of the Heian period, and it was designated as an important cultural property.

Regarding pagoda architecture during the Heian period, new types of pagodas including hoto (treasure pagoda) or daito pagoda were introduced, however the structural remnants that exist today were in soto (multi-leveled tower) architecture only. Regarding soto architecture, a central pillar was originally put under or over the ground. Regarding the three story pagodas constructed after the three storied pagoda of Joruri-ji Temple and that of Ichijo-ji Temple, a central pillar was put on hari (a beam) of the ceiling of the first-level tower (architecture). This was to secure the internal space of the first-level pagoda.

Three storied pagoda of Joruri-ji Temple (Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture, a national treasure)

Joruri-ji Temple is in mountains along the border between Yamashiro Province and Yamato, and it is known as 'Kutai Amida-do Hall.'
The three storied pagoda was removed from Ichijo Omiya in Kyoto to the current location in 1178. This is a three-storied pagoda (stupa) whose side is sangen (approximately 5.4 meters), and was hiwada-buki; it was located opposite the main hall beyond the pond. The walls in the first-level pagoda are covered in Shaka Hasso (Eight Aspects of Buddha) on its door, Jurokurakan-zu (the painting of sixteen disciples of Buddha who attained Nirvana) around its corner, together with decorative patterns.

Three-story pagoda of Ichijo-ji Temple (Kasai City, Hyogo Prefecture, a national treasure)

Ichijo-ji Temple is located in mountains in the northeast of Harima Province, and many temple buildings have been designated as important cultural properties. The three-storey pagoda (stupa) was identified to be architecture from 1171 through the inscription on the top of fukubachi (inverted bowl-shaped part of a pagoda finial). Its central pillar ends under the roof of the first-level pagoda, and on the wooden floor located over the roof, a Buddhist alter is put on a square whose side is ikken (appox. 1.8 m) in the center of the floor. The shape and structure of the flat part with edges around reminds one of sangen Buddhist temples after the Kamakura period. This is a feature never seen before the middle of the Heian period.

Shrine architecture

The 'Nageire-do Hall of the Sanbutsu-ji Temple,' a remnant of mountain religion described earlier, and Ujigami-jinja Shrine Honden (main shrine building) are the only existing examples of shrine architecture before the Heian period.

Ujigami-jinja Shrine Honden (Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture, a national treasure)

This was constructed in kirizuma-zukuri style (an architectural style with a gabled roof); the roof of hirairi (the entrance to a building constructed parallel to the ridge of the roof, usually on the long side of the building) was sheeted, and an eave was attached to the front of the moya (the central space under the main roof of the shinden hall) of the main housing to make the front side longer, and it was a shrine regarded as chinju (local Shinto deity) of Byodo-in Temple. It was identified as architecture from 1060 through the growth rings measurements, and it is an example of the oldest existing shrine architecture.

Itsukushima-jinja Shrine building (Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture, a national treasure)

It was ichinomiya (a shrine occupying the highest rank among the shrines of a province) of Aki Province. Ichikishima hime no mikoto was enshrined there, and Ichikishima hime no mikoto was regarded as the protectorate god of journeys across the seas. It was worshiped by TAIRA no Kiyomori who was Aki no kami (governor of Aki Province). During the Insei period, it was treated as the ujigami (a guardian god or spirit of a particular place in the Shinto religion) of the Taira clan, and in 1164, the entire 33 scrolls of "Heike-nokyo" (sutras dedicated by the Taira family) were contributed. The main building in ryonagare-zukuri (a style of early Shinto shrines that have 'hisashi,' a kind of envelope, in front and behind) were reproduced after ages, an example of the remaining style in the period of the Taira clan. It was reproduced in a special architectural style of today; sea water rushes in underneath the building at the time of high tide. As the tide comes in, the scene of the main shrine building or torii (a gate to a Shinto shrine) standing in the sea is beautiful; it is designated as a special place of scenic beauty in Japan, being called 'Miyajima,' which was famous as one of the three most scenic spots in Japan. In 1996, it was registered as a cultural site of world heritage.

Regarding shrine architectural style, kasuga-zukuri style which is a universal form of the main building of a shrine was established before the end of the Heian period as well as nagare-zukuri style (a style of shrine architecture). Kasuga-zukuri style was kirizuma-zukuri style, and was tsuma iri (a style of building which has the entrance on the short side of building), with an eave in front of the moya, which was often seen in the Kasuga-sha Shrine honden. Its eave was mabara-daruki (widely spaced roof rafters), and it was treated lighter than the moya, which played the original role as an eave. This form seemed to be spread around the Kinai region (the five capital provinces surrounding the ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto) due to the distribution of old buildings after regular reconstruction.

Sumigiiri kasuga-zukuri style (kumano-zukuri style) which was regarded as one type of kasuga-zukuri style, also spread throughout Japan after the medieval period due to propagation of Kumano belief.


There are many remarkable things to write about Jodo Teien such as Shiramizu Amida-do Hall stated above that were developed during the time when the Jodo sect spread.

Above all, Motsu-ji Temple known for its big-scale Buddhist temple built by FUJIWARA no Motohira, the second generation of the Oshu-Fujiwara clan during the period from 1150 to 1156, was maintained by Motohira and his wife, and FUJIWARA no Hidehira; it boasted gorgeous temples, pagodas and so on and its scale was bigger than the Chuson-ji Temple at that time. However, it was burnt out in the fire in 1226, and in a subsequent fire caused by war in 1573.

The beautiful Jodo Teien has been preserved until today; a foot of the bridge is still in the pond as well as nakajima (an island in a pond or a river) and garden stones that represent the former status.
Since yarimizu (a steam coming from outside) where 'Kyokusui no Utage' (making-poetry party at the stream in a garden) was said to be held was the only remnant during the Heian period in Japan, and it was also highly valuable from the academic point of view, it was designated as the special historic site and the special scenic beauty place of the nation by the name of 'Pure Land Garden at Motsu-ji Temple.'

Regarding Motsu-ji Temple, it is known that Motohira went to Unkei, a sculptor in Kyoto, with a lot of presents, requesting the creation of the statue of Yakushi Nyorai (the Healing Buddha) of honzon (principal image of Buddha). The story that has been handed down till today is that Cloistered Emperor Toba who was amazed by the statue made by Unkei, prohibited to go down to Oshu.


Statue of Ichiji Kinrin, Chuson-ji Temple (Hiraizumi-cho, Iwate Prefecture, an important cultural property)

It was the Buddha statue made around 1170 and it was done by yosegi-zukuri (a method of constructing a statue by assembling pieces of wood) with gyokugan (eyes made of crystal which were inserted into the head of a wooden Buddhist statue in order to produce a realistic appearance), personalizing the character of a mantra advocated by Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana). The another name for the statue is Ichiji Kinrin Buccho (the principal Buddha of the "Court of the Perfected"). The statue was 75 cm tall, and the statue was pausing Chiken-in (the knowledge-fist mudra). It was also referred to as 'Hitohada no Dainichi' (Human Dainichi).

Usuki Magaibutsu (stone-cliff Buddha) (Usuki City, Oita Prefecture, a national treasure)

The 62 figures of Magaibutsu were spread in four groups around a valley. Most of them were the famous stone groups of Japan that were carved during the period from the 11th to the 12th century.

Buddha statues, Denjo-ji Temple Maki O-do Hall (Bungotakada City, Oita Prefecture, an important cultural property)

This was the Buddha statue group in Denjo-ji Temple on Mt. Maki, one of Rokugo-manzan (Mountain of Six Sanctuaries), and nine statues including wooden seated statue of Amidanyorai, Shitenno (the four guardian kings) among them still exist.

Statues of Senju Kannon, Rengeo-in Temple (Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, an important cultural property)

1,001 statues of life-sized Senju Kannon are placed. Each statue with 11 faces and 42 hands is in yosegi-zukuri, and is coated by lacquered leaf. 124 of the figures were created at the end of the Heian period, and the remaining figures were reproduced after the Kamakura period, spending 16 years to complete. Seated statues of Senju Kannon of joroku-zo (statue considered to be a full-scale, one jo and six shaku - or about 4.8 meters) of honzon (chuson [the principal statue in a group of Buddhist statues]) is a little over three meters tall, and was created during the Kamakura period.

Nine statues of Amida Nyorai, Joruri-ji Temple (Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture, a national treasure)

It is the only existing Kutai Butsu (Nine Amida Buddha statues). The nine figures of Nyorai were enshrined based on the belief of 'kuhon ojo;' nine levels of birth, from gebon gesho (lower grade: lower birth), gebon chusho (lower grade: middle birth), gebon josho (lower grade: upper birth), to jobon josho (upper grade: upper birth) were in the Pure Land. Chuson is joroku-zo pausing Raigo-in (Reasoning Mudra), and other eight figures were hanjoroku-zo (statue considered to be a half scale) pausing Jo-in (samadhi mudra, gesture of meditation). Both of them were done in yosegi-zukuri, and is coated with lacquered leaf.

Statues of Amida Nyorai and ryowakiji (attendants statues on both sides), Sanzen-in Temple (Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City, a national treasure)

This is the honzon within Sanzen-in Temple, and consists of three seated statues of Amida Sanzon (Amida Triad); Amida Nyorai pausing Raigo-in, Kanzeon Bosatsu and Seishi Bosatsu as the attendants of Amida Nyorai. It features statues of wakiji (attendants statues) kneeling on both sides, and was identified as a creation of 1148 according to the inscription inside the statue of Seishi Bosatsu. It is categorized as Jocho style from the first half of the 12th century.

Seated statue of Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana), Enjo-ji Temple (Nara City, Nara prefecture, a national treasure)

It is the oldest existing creation of Nara Busshi (sculptor of Buddhist Statues in Nara) Unkei. The inscription on its pedestal shows that it was created in 1176. This statue is 99 meters tall done in yosegi-zukuri, pausing Chiken-in, and is coated in lacquered leaf. Its shapely figure and forceful facial expression represent the characteristics of the Kei school of Buddhist sculpture.

Following are other works that represent this period.

Statue of Fugen Bosatsu (Samantabhadra Bodhisattva) riding on an elephant, the Okura Shukokan Museum of Fine Arts, Tokyo (a national treasures)
Seated statue of Senju Kannon, standing statue of Fudo Myoo Nidoji (Fudo Myoo and two children), standing statue of Bishamonten (Vaisravana), Bujo-ji Temple, Kyoto (an important cultural property) (1154)
Statue of Godai Myoo (Five Wisdom Kings), Daikaku-ji Temple, Kyoto (an important cultural property) around 1176
Seated statue of Amida Nyorai, Hokongo-in Temple, Kyoto (an important cultural property) around 1130
Carved wood standing statue of Juni Shinsho (Twelve Heavenly Generals), Kofuku-ji Temple, Nara (a national treasure)
Wooden statue of Amida Nyorai and statues of ryowakiji, Daisen-ji Temple (Daisen-cho, Saihaku-gun, Tottori Prefecture), Tottori (an important cultural property) made by Ryoen (busshi - sculptor of Buddhist Statues) in 1131


A new method of painting, emakimono that develops a story with Kotobagaki (captions) based on a story or setsuwa (anecdotes) was created and prospered. Illustrations drawn in the method of Yamato-e painting (a traditional Japanese style painting of the late Heian and Kamakura periods dealing with Japanese themes) and Kotobagaki are alternately placed and each frame is advanced as if it was a movie, using the compositional method; a method to show successive events within a unified background, which is a typical Japanese style with hardly no real precedent in international painting history.

"Genji Monogatari Emaki" (Illustrated scrolls of the Tale of Genji) is an emakimono that represents the Heian period, and it was said to be painted by FUJIWARA no Takayoshi around the first half of the 12th century; 20 frames of the emakimono still exist. The portrayal through a view from the upper right is common, and methods of 'Fukinuke yatai' (a compositional technique used to depict a residential interior, which involves rendering a building without a roof and ceiling so that the viewer looks inside from above) and 'hikime-kagihana' (drawn-line eyes and a hook-shaped nose) are used. This is the great story emakimono which described the feelings of characters and emotions as illustrations are going beyond the role as an illustration.

"Nenchu-gyoji Emaki" (illustrated scroll of annual events) was said to be the emakimono that Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa had Mitsunaga TOKIWA paint together with "Ban Dainagon Emaki" (illustrated scroll of the story of a courtier Ban Dainagon); it is a typical Gyoji Emaki (illustrated scroll of events), and FUJIWARA no Motofusa was involved in creating it. It is said that "Nenchu-gyoji Emaki" started to be created during the Hogen era (1156-1158) led by Shinzei Nyudo (FUJIWARA no Michinori) under the mood of Dai-dairi (place of the Imperial Palace and government offices) revival and chogi (ceremony at Imperial Court) restoration. In addition to the annual events held at the Imperial Court, it vividly features the common people at that time in stone-throwing fight held around the field of Kamo-gawa River (Yodo-gawa River system), in cockfighting held in the open space, in Inari Festival, or in Imamiya Festival. The original emakimono was lost, and only the copied version by Jokei SUMIYOSHI during the Edo period still exists.

In "Ban Dainagon Emaki" which was completed by Mitsunaga TOKIWA in the latter half of the 12th century under the order of the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa, the story of the fire of Oten-mon Gate was precisely described in the real-life touch. The name 'Ban Dainagon' refers to TOMO no Yoshio during the ninth century who was involved in the Otenmon Incident. This emakimono was based on the real fire which occurred in Kyoto at that time, and Kyoto, the center of Insei, was described. Its sequential frame structures and dynamic expressions are excellent.

"Shigisan engi emaki" (Ikoma-gun, Nara Prefecture, possessed by Chogosonshi-ji Temple) which is believed to be a creation from the latter half of the 12th century is the emakimono based on the story regarding the foundation of the temple. The story of hijiri named Myoren who was believed to be the ancestor involved in the Mt. Shigi restoration, is the main story of this emakimono. It consists of Yamazaki Choja no Maki (Millionaire Yamazaki), Engi Kaji no Maki (Exorcism of the Emperor), and Amagimi no maki (a nun). The story that Myoren threw a pot using 'the method of throwing a pot' to carry the rice storage of choja (chief abbot of the temple) to Mt. Shigi, which amazed people, is well known. The life and customs of the common people are described with dynamic lines, and shows the characteristics of Yamato-e painting well.

"Nezame monogatari emaki" (Picture Scroll of the Tale of Nezame) that was painted in the 12th century and is possessed by Yamato Bunka-kan (Nara City, Nara prefecture) is a beautiful emakimono covered in silver foil which is said to be the story of tragic love, and it is designated as a national treasure.

"Jigoku zoshi" (scrolls depicting Buddhist hell) (a book of Tokyo National Museum, a book of Nara National Museum, both are national treasures), "Gaki soshi," (Hungry Ghosts Scroll) (a book of Kyoto National Museum, a book of Tokyo National Museum, both are national treasures), "Yamai no soshi" (Diseases and Deformities) (a book of Kyoto National Museum, a national treasure) are emakimono that deal descriptions of the Hell, preta, and suffering from starvation or disease. According to Buddhism, human beings repeat their lives after death, in Rokudo (six posthumous worlds); heaven (Buddhism), Ningenkai (human world), Ashura, chikusho (Buddhist realm of beasts), or preta, hell. Gaki-do (the Realm of the Hungry Dead) was described in "Gaki soshi," and Jigoku-do (Hell Realm) was described in "Jigoku zoshi." These emakimono including "Yamai no soshi" were created in the latter half of the 12th century, and it is said to be created in the Imperial Court of Goshirakawa. The 'Geshin Jigoku' (Hell of Dissections) of "Shamon Jigoku zoshi" (Stories of Hell for Buddhist Priests) possessed by MIHO MUSEUM (Koga City, Shiga Prefecture) describes endless hell; a monk who had killed and had eaten an animal went to the hell where the monk was killed and chopped and eaten by oni (ogre).

"Hekija-e" (Exorcist Scroll) possessed by Nara National Museum is the emakimono created in the latter half of the 12th century, and oni was suffering instead of a sinner in the emakimono. The gods including Shoki (plague-queller; the mythical person reputed to have the power of driving away the God of Plague), Gozu Tenno (deity said to be the Indian god Gavagriva), and Bishamonten punished the oni in the emakimono, and it had a connection with the belief of clearing out the devil in China. The horrible description in this emakimono has been believed to be hell for a long time.

Above all, "Ban Dainagon Emaki" and "Shigisan engi emaki" vividly describe the life of the common people in local villages as well as the common people in Kyoto, and the mood of the period is seen through them. "Kokawadera engi emaki" (a picture scroll of legends of Kokawa-dera Temple) in the 12th century also describes the common people in local society. These emakimono originated in the Insei period, and the emakimono is the first Japanese arts in which the life of people was described, therefore, it is revolutionary from this point of view.

All four scrolls of "Choju Jinbutsu Giga" (caricatures of frolicking birds, animals and humans) are emakimono that have been handed down to Kozan-ji Temple in Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City. All scrolls are the hakubyoga (white monochrome drawing) without Kotobagaki, and in its volumes one and two, animals such as frogs, rabbits, monkeys, and foxes are personified and described; these are the unique emakimono that squibbed the social situations of Mappo with a light touch. It has been reported to be painted by Toba Sojo Kakuyu, but it is believed to be created during the period from the middle of the 12th century to the early 13th century by several persons because of a difference in style.
It is often referred to as 'the oldest Japanese cartoon.'
These emakimono also show the life or customs of the common people at that time through games, Shinto rituals, rites and festivals, and in Buddhist mass.

Ashide-e (a picture in which decorative, cursive style of Japanese calligraphy, the characters of which resemble natural objects, is used) is a decorative painting pattern with characters and pictures combined, and it became popular in the latter half of the Heian period.

All two scrolls of "Ashide-e Wakan Roeishu Sho" of shihon bokusho (ink on paper) (possessed by Kyoto National Museum) were copied from "Wakan Roei Shu", (Collection of Sung Japanese and Chinese poems) on ryoshi (paper for writing) on which Ashide-e was painted. It can be recognized as the one copied by Koreyuki SESONJI in 1160, given that the note; 'May 16, 1160, Yuhitsu (amanuensis) 黷之 Koreyuki, 司農少卿伊行' was written at the end of the second scroll. Using colors such as navy blue, green blue, taisha-color (tawny), silver, ashide-e including reed, water bird, Asuka, rocks, and katawaguruma (Japanese ghost distinguished by moving from place to place on an oxcart with only one wheel) were described as a sketch on ryoshi.

Soshokukyo (decorative sutras)

During the Insei period, under the influence of spreading Jodo sect and thought of Mappo, people wished gokuraku ojo, and they competed to create the best soshokukyo. The decorative sutras that represent this period include "Konshi Kingindei Issaikyo" wished and created by FUJIWARA no Kiyohira in 1126 and "Heike-nokyo" dedicated to Itsukushima-jinja Shrine by the Taira clan.

The 'Senmen Koshakyo' (Ancient Sutra Manuscripts on a fan) (Senmen Hokkekyo Sasshi [Lotus Sutra Booklet on a Fan]) is one of decorative sutras that became popular in the end of the 12th century, and Hoke-kyo Sutra (the Lotus Sutra) was copied on the fan-shaped paper (fan-shaped ryoshi) on which nature or customs were described. They are possessed by the Shitenno-ji Temple in Osaka, and the Tokyo National Museum. It is folded in the center, and is placed between half-fan-shaped covers. The lives of the common people in Kyoto are vividly described through the method of Yamato-e painting in its sketch.

"Heike-nokyo" was dedicated to Itsukushima-jinja Shrine in Aki Province by TAIRA no Kiyomori and TAIRA no Shigemori in 1164, wishing the Taira clan for their prosperity, and it consisted of 33 scrolls of decorative sutras. The Taira clan shared and dedicated them. The head of an axis with metal fittings with kingin sukashi-bori (openwork carving on gold or silver), the ryoshi in which gold or silver fine powders and kirihaku (decorative metal pattern on sculptures or paintings) are richly used, and the strings used in each scroll show the craft skills at that time. Decorative pictures are painted on the covers colored in gold or silver, and on the end leaf of the scroll, using the method of Yamato-e painting. The sutras consisted of thirty scrolls of Hoke-kyo Sutra, one scroll of Amida-kyo Sutra, one scroll of Hannya Shingyo (Heart Sutra), and one scroll of ganmon (Shinto or Buddhist prayer - read) in his own writing by TAIRA no Kiyomori as well as kyobako (a box in which Buddhist scriptures are kept) and karabitsu (six-legged Chinese-style chest). Some people consider the sutras as a relic of the Taira clan, to know the aristocratic part of the Taira clan.

"Konshi Kingindei Issaikyo" (紺紙金銀字交書一切経) is a decorative sutras; sutra sentences are written alternately in kindei (gold paint) and gindei (silver paint) between silver lines on navy papers. This is one of the scriptures called 'Chusonji-kyo Sutras' that were copied at the wish of FUJIWARA no Kiyohira, and it was completed after eight years from the time when it was started in 1117. The motif of Shaka preaching or the intentions of sutras are described on the end leaf of the scroll. The term 'Issaikyo' (complete Buddhist scriptures) means the entire Buddhist scriptures (Daizo-kyo Sutra [the Tripitaka]), and originally the number of scrolls of 'Issaikyo' amounted to around 5300. Many Issaikyo moved to Mt. Koya during the Azuchi-Momoyama period, and only 15 scrolls have been handed down to Chuson-ji Temple, while 4,296 scrolls have been handed down to Kongobu-ji Temple in Mt. Koya until today.

Buddhist painting

As evidenced by the record; Buddhist statues and paintings; 193 statues of joroku-zo and half joroku-zo, 3150 statues of full-size statues, and more than 5470 Buddhist paintings had been created at the wish of the Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa when he passed away in 1129, many Buddhist paintings were created during the Insei period.

The features of the Buddhist paintings in the Insei period have a tendency of delicate description with rich colors, common use of various craft methods including saikin (cut gold leaf), and sprinkled precious metals; it is characterized by evident decorative painting touch that was often used. In general, its tendency is gentle and delicate. Many of them reflect the stream of preceding Esoteric Buddhist paintings while many Amida Nyorai were painted as a reflection of prosperity of the Jodo sect.

Among Esoteric Buddhist paintings, "Shorenin National Treasure" in Shoren-in Temple in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City (color painting on silk, commonly called 'Ao Fudo' [Blue Fudo], a national treasure) is the oldest existing image based on 'Fudo Juku-kan, nineteen Characteristic Signs of Fudo Myoo,' and it was created during the 11th century. The 'Ki Fudo' (Yellow Fudo) of Manshu-in Temple in Kyoto which modeled on 'Ki Fudo' (Yellow Fudo) of Onjo-ji Temple which was famous as kantokuzu (image of spiritual reception) was created in the first half of the 12th century, and is designated as a national treasure. "Image of Fudo Myoo Nidoji" (paper book Hakubyo plain sketch) that has been handed down to Ishiyama-dera Temple in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture was a creation of the 12th century, and is designated as an important cultural property. "Image of Kujaku Myoo" (peacock king of those who hold knowledge) (a national treasure) possessed by Tokyo National Museum was created in the middle of the 12th century, and it was known for its gentle curves, graceful colors, refined cut-gold foil pattern. In "Ryobu taikyo kantokuzu" (Paintings of the Spiritual Reception of the Two Great Sutras), a national treasure, possessed by Fujita Museum of Art in Osaka, the scene that the important Buddhist scriptures of Esoteric Buddhism; 'Dainichi-kyo Sutra' and 'Kongocho-kyo' (Vajrasekhara Sutra) were inspired in India, is described. It was in Uchiyama Eikyu-ji Temple in Tenri City, Nara Prefecture, and was painted by FUJIWARA no Munehiro in 1136.

Among Mandala (Mandala, or a diagram that depicts Buddhist deities according to certain geometric formats and illustrates the Buddhist world view), 'Ryokai Mandala' (Two World Mandala) (possessed by Kongobu-ji Temple, an important cultural property) has been said to be painted by TAIRA no Kiyomori with his own blood, and it is called 'Chi Mandala' (blood Mandala). The 'Hoshi Mandala' (Star Mandala) that has been succeeded to Horyu-ji Temple and to Kumeda-dera Temple (Kishiwada City, Osaka Prefecture) were created in the 12th century (both of them are important cultural properties).

The 'Image of Senju Kannon,' 'Image of Bato Kannon,' 'Image of Nyoirin Kannon' possessed by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston were the Fenollosa-Weld Collection, and they were created in the 12th century. The three paintings were color paintings on silk using various craft methods, finished with a decorative touch. It is described delicately, and is graceful, yet fresh in its color and pattern. The 'Image of Zennyo Ryuo' possessed by Kongobu-ji Temple in Wakayama Prefecture was a Buddhist painting painted by Jochi during 1145, and is designated as a national treasure.

As for Butsudenzu (Illustrated Biographies of the Buddha), 'Butsu Nehan-zu' (painting of Buddha nirvana) (a national treasure) possessed by Kongobu-ji Temple is well known. It is also referred to as 'Otoku Nehan-zu Painting,' which described the scene that Shaka reached the stage of nirvana where all Bonno (earthly desires) were entirely gone. It had the inscription of May 28, 1086 which was the oldest inscription of a Japanese Buddhist painting. It is a Nehan-zu (Nirvana painting) filled with merciful love and hopes, and it is so great that it is referred to as the painting that represents the Heian Buddhist paintings.
"Shaka Kinkan Shutsugenzu" (Shakyamuni Rising from the Gold Coffin) (a national treasure) created in the latter half of the 11th century and possessed by the Kyoto National Museum is another masterpiece that is equal to 'Butsu Nehan-zu.'
It describes the scene that Shaka revived for his wife Maya who was in grief, opening the lid of his coffin himself after Shaka passed away and was placed in a gold coffin; Shaka preached his last for his wife and the people. The gold coffin was depicted by using the reversed-perspective representation method; the front part of the coffin in the painting looks short. The painting is centripetal, dynamically configured, and highly expressive.

The 'raigo-zu' describes that a dead person is welcomed by someone from Saiho Gokuraku Jodo. Among many masterpieces, "Amida Shoju Raigo-zu" (image of the Descent of Amida and the Heavenly Multitude) of Takanosan Yushihachimanko Juhachika-in Temple (高野山有志八幡講十八箇院) created in the latter half of the 12th century (a national treasure, possessed by Koyasan Reihokan Museum) is the greatest Buddhist painting. Amida Nyorai and 29 figures of Bosatsu were full in the big picture, and all of them are described as seated statues facing the front. The Amida Nyorai in the center is especially big. His naked part is covered in kindei, and the clothed part is applied in cut-gold foil pattern, which makes his whole body look shiny.

The following are the representative works in this period (all of them are national treasures).

Image of Fugen Bosatsu, Tokyo National Museum
Image of Kokuzo Bosatsu (Akasagarbha Bodhisattva), Tokyo National Museum
Image of Godaison (Five Great Wisdom Kings), Kiburi-ji Temple, Gifu (in 1090)
Image of Shaka Nyorai, Jingo-ji Temple, Kyoto
Image of Godaison, To-ji Temple, Kyoto (in 1127)
Image of Juniten (Twelve Devas), Kyoto National Museum (succeeded from To-ji Temple) (in 1127)
Image of Fugen Enmei Bosatsu, Matsunoo-dera Temple (Maizuru city), Kyoto
Image of Fugen Enmei Bosatsu, Jiko-ji Temple, Hiroshima (in 1153)

Ceramic ware

In Japanese ceramic ware history, the 12th century was the period when a major big change occurred. The Sanage kilns of Owari Province had been linking to the Ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code), and after the 11th century, there was a change in buyers, from the ruling class to the common people class, and unglazed Yamajawan (bowl) began to be manufactured. A number of Yamajawan kilns were produced through such process; Tokoname-yaki Ware in Chita Peninsula and Atsumi-yaki Ware in Atsumi Peninsula were generated in the first half of the 12th century. Apart from a large amount of Yamajawan, big-sized pots molded with strings tied up started to be manufactured, and they were supplied to a wide area, from the northern Tohoku region to the Kyushu region. In Tokoname, sankinmonko is typical while in Atsumi, various patterns of lines curved with a pallet is typical. "Shizenyu akikusamon tsubo vase" excavated from Minami-Kase, Kawasaki City (possessed by Keio University) is designated as a national treasure. Both were created in an Anagama kiln (a Japanese pottery kiln that utilizes wood ash to glaze pottery) with bunen-chu (a pillar located in the center of a kiln). Incidentally, bunen-chu was invented by Japanese.

Meanwhile, Suzu-yaki Ware was derived from sueki (unglazed ware) in Noto Province in the first half of the 12th century. The products of Suzu-yaki Ware were supplied mainly in the coastal regions of Japan Sea, from Hokkaido to Kyoto. Pots were manufactured in plenty. The technique of jointing the upper body; from the waist part to the shoulder part, tied up by strings and the opening part molded by rokuro (potter's wheel) was used while the traditional molding method by rokuro was valued. A tapping tool was designed to prevent cracks during baking and many patterns due to tapping and fastening remains inside.

The kilns for sueki included Ohata kiln (Akita Prefecture), Izumiyaji kiln, Shintame kiln (Yamagata Prefecture), Iizaka kiln (Fukushima Prefecture), Kanei kiln (Gunma prefecture), Kande Kiln, Uozumi kiln (Hyogo Prefecture), Kameyama kiln (Okayama Prefecture), Tokameyama kiln (Kagawa Prefecture), 樺番丈窯(Kumamoto Prefecture), all of which were not equipped with bunen-chu, and unglazed practical ware including jars, pots were created in plenty.

Also, under the influence of pottery in Tokai region, pottery kilns were opened in local regions. In the latter half of the 12th century, Mizunuma kilns were built in Ishimaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, and a Ryokufudai kiln was built in Nishiwaki City, Hyogo Prefecture. After acquiring the technique from Tokoname-yaki, Echizen-yaki Ware started to be manufactured in Echizen-cho, Nyu-gun, Fukui Prefecture at the end of the 12th century. Ever since then, kilns had been opening under the influence of Tokoname such as Shigaraki-yaki Ware or Tanba-yaki Ware until the 13th century. It is when the era of the pottery in the medieval period started.

Lacquer ware, lacquer products

The lacquer ware includes "katawaguruma makie raden tebako" (Toiletry case with cart wheels in stream), a national treasure, possessed by Tokyo National Museum. It is the famous art of makie (Japanese lacquer sprinkled with gold or silver powder) that represents the art crafts of the Heian period. A number of wheels placed half into the flowing water were depicted using togidashi makie (burnished makie) in gold and blue gold or raden (mother-of-pearl inlay work) on the top of surface. On the internal surface, flowers or flying birds are depicted using togidashi makie in gold and silver. Both patterns were commonly used for ryoshi decoration at that time. Today, it is referred to as tebako (cosmetic box), it was probably intended as a kyobako to contain a decorative sutra at that time.

"Nobe suzume makie tebako cosmetic box" possessed by Kongo-ji Temple (Kawachinagano City) in Kawachinagano City, Osaka Prefecture was created in the 12th century, and it is designated as an important cultural property. It is pointed out that a parental sparrow feeding its child was cribbed from the regular pattern in Song Dynasty paintings. Painting weeds in a field seems to be the influence of Northern Sung Dynasty.

"Chuson-ji Konjikido (Golden Hall) Shumidan" is extremely famous as a large-size product. It is a black-lacquered platform with kinmakie (gold lacquer) and raden, and its kamachi (a frame) with a short support is covered in a thin gilt bronze plate. In the curved part, decorations such as a hoo (a mythological sacred bird in Chinese lore, a phoenix) are made. It is known as a glorious platform, and Amida Sanzon, Rokujizo (Six Jizo), and Ni-ten are placed on it. The dead bodies of three generations of the Oshu-Fujiwara clan are placed under the platform.


"Kondo Shaka Nyorai zo mishotai" (an important cultural property) possessed by Chuson-ji Temple Enjo-in that partly represents the thoughts of syncretization of Shinto with Buddhism and "Kondo-Keman" (a national treasure, possessed by Konjiki-in Temple) are some of the casting products. The former is said to be the one of fine arts, the representative work of Kakebotoke (hanging plaque Buddha) in the Heian period, and the latter is the greatest work of Japanese keman (Buddhist floral decorations).

"Senkoku Senju Kannon tokyozo mirror" possessed by Sui-jinja Shrine in Toyokawa, Daisen City, Akita Prefecture is a bronze mirror on which line engraving seemed to be made in the 11th century. It is a hachiryokyo (eight-lobed bronze mirror) and designated as a national treasure; the standing statue of Senju Kannon with kenzoku (one's family and relations) are carved with tagane (chisel) on the mirror side, and on the back side of the mirror, Hosoge-mon (flower motif) is carved in the center as well as butterflies and birds in four directions.

A mirror was widely used to see one's image amongst the upper class at that time. On top of that, a mirror was also believed to have the power of 'Hekija-e (exorcist scroll),' therefore, in some cases, it was buried with sutra into kyozuka. About 600 mirrors from the end of the Heian through until the Edo period were excavated from a pond commonly known as 'Kagami-ga-ike Pond' in the Mt. Haguro, one of Dewa sanzan (three mountains of Dewa) (Yamagata Prefecture) (Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture). These mirrors are referred to as 'Haguro-kyo mirrors' as a whole, and are characterized by graceful patterns based on flowers and birds; they are the important references for researching Japanese mirrors.

A box called 'Kingin sounryumon dosei kyobako' (金銀荘雲龍文銅製経箱) is a kyobako that contained Heike-nokyo, and it was created and handed down to Itsukushima-jinja Shrine as a treasures of the shrine in the latter half of the 12th century; it is designated as a national treasure. Iron mongery goods of Unryumon coated with gold and silver are tacked down on the copper plate gleaming black. Bugaku (court dance and music) masks, Shishi lion (left-hand guardian dog at a Shinto shrine), and komainu (a pair of stone-carved guardian dogs) were also dedicated to Itsukushima-jinja Shrine by the Taira clan.

Court nobles at that time competed to decorate gorgeous crafts which amazed people at a feast, at a Buddhist mass, and at rites and festivals. Creations such as 'Gold crane and silver tree branch' and 'Silver crane and Isokata' created during the 12th century have been handed down to Kasuga-Taisha Shrine today as 'Kasuga-Taisha Shrine Wakamiya Imperial property Sacred Treasures,' both are designated as national treasures.

The folding fan was invented in Japan, and it became a necessity of court nobles during the Heian period. In shrines, miko (a shrine maiden) was used to invite the god. The saie hiogi (painted fan, made of slats of cypress wood), particularly Hi-ogi wooden fan were handed down to various places, and saie hiogi in the latter half of the 12th century possessed by Itsukushima-jinja Shrine is designated as a national treasure while another in the 12th century possessed by Sada-jinja Shrine in Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture is designated as an important cultural property. Such fans were important exports from Japan in the trade between Japan and the Sung Dynasty in China.

Reflecting the emergence of samurai, swords and kacchu (armor and helmets) were actively made. The 'Akaito Odoshi Yoroi' (odoshi armor with red strings) that is said to be dedicated by MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune, 'Murasakiaya Odoshi Yoroi' (Violet-twilled-threaded Armor) that is said to be dedicated by MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, and 'Fusube Murasakigawa Odoshi Domaru Armor' that is said to be dedicated by MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka, all of which are possessed by Oyamazumi-jinja Shrine in Omishima Island, Iyo Province (present day Imari city), are regarded to be the creations of the 12th century. The former two are designated as national treasures, while the latter is designated as an important cultural property.

Books and authorities

"Nishi-Honganji-bon Sanju-rokunin-kashu" (a national treasure) is famous as a masterpiece of calligraphy created around this time. It is said to be created in 1112. Waka of the Thirty-six Immortal Poets were discretely written in a gorgeous book with various ryoshi decorations such as yaburitsugi (a Heian-style collage technique used to decorate poetry sheets), kirihaku (decorative metal pattern on sculptures or paintings), fine powder in gold and silver, suminagashi (a marbleized pattern produced by dropping black ink on damp paper; frequently used during the Heian period on poetry sheets) and so on. About 20 kinds of handwriting of Japanese patterns are recognized, and it is said that the beauty in kana (character) was pursued during the first half of the 12th century.

The kotobagaki of emaki including "Genji Monogatari Emaki" that was mentioned earlier, Buddhist scriptures including "Heike-nokyo," the Genei-bon manuscript (a national treasure) with okugaki (postscript) in 1120 as a complete edition of "Kokin Wakashu" (A Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry) are the copied versions of the masterpieces established in the former period. "Manyoshu" (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) has Genryaku-kobon manuscripts (a national treasure) as well as okugaki collated in 1184, however, some of the scrolls are unavailable. Both of them are the copied versions from the end of the Heian period.

Senmen Koshakyo (ancient sutra manuscripts on a fan) can be regarded as a unique handwriting reference, and a few handwritings of craftsman using Japanese patterns have been confirmed.

Calligrapher and shoho (penmanship, calligraphy)

FUJIWARA no Korefusa (Korefusa SESONJI) in the first half of the 12th century who wrote kotobagaki of "Genji Monogatari Emaki" using the overwriting method and FUJIWARA no Koreyuki (Koreyuki SESONJI) in the latter half of the 12th century who copied "Ashide-e Wakan Roeishu Sho" which was described earlier were from the Sesonji family. FUJIWARA no Korefusa was the third generation, and FUJIWARA no Koreyuki was the sixth generation from FUJIWARA no Yukinari, one of sanzeki (the three great brush traces) that established Japanese patterns. Both of them belonged to Sesonji school of calligraphy that was regarded as the most prestigious in the Imperial Court and also as having an elegant method. The sixth generation, Koreyuki wrote "Sesonji School of Japanese Calligraphy," the first Japanese calligraphy book, and the seventh generation, Koretsune wrote the book, "Saiyosho" (teachings on calligraphy) in which techniques taught from FUJIWARA no Norinaga were summarized.

He is one of the members who caused the Hogen Disturbance. FUJIWARA no Tadamichi who was referred to as 'Hosshoji-dono' (Mr. Hossho-ji Temple' or 'Hosshoji Kanpaku' (a chief advisor to the emperor at Hossho-ji Temple) was also known as a noshoka (master of calligraphy). His calligraphic style was called the Hosshoji school, and it became popular from the end of the Heian period to the middle of the Kamakura period. It is characterized by masculine calligraphy with a powerful and dynamic touch based on the calligraphic style of Sesonji school. The shoho of Hosshoji school was succeeded by his children, Kanezane KUJO and his grandchild, Yoshitsune KUJO; the popularity in shoho at that time was split by both Sesonji school and Hosshoji school.

Military epic

The main driving force of Insei period culture were court nobles and monks. Meanwhile, one characteristic in this period is that interests from the cultural aspect were drawn to the lives of samurai or common people as attention was paid to them. "Shomon-ki" (Tale of Masakado) that depicted the rebellion in Togoku (the eastern part of Japan, particularly Kanto region) in the Johei and Tengyo War by TAIRA no Masakado and "Mutsuwa-ki" (A Record of Mutsu, or A Chronicle of the Earlier Nine Years' War) that depicted Zen Kunen Kassen (Former Nine Years War) in Mutsu Province were based on the wars in local regions, therefore, they depicted local samurai well. As a precedence of military epic, they have great meaning in literal history, all of which were written in Japanese style kanbun (Sino-Japanese).

A collection of anecdotes

In the Insei period, people became more aware of reality rather than the fictional world. During a couple of hundred years from the Insei period until the first half of the medieval period, collecting anecdotes from high-rank court nobles, government official in the middle and low rank, or priests, and compiling those anecdotes into a collection of anecdotes became popular.

More than 1,000 Buddhism anecdotes now and past or common tales in three countries; India, China and Japan, were compiled into "Konjaku Monogatari shu" (The Tale of Times Now Past). Its title came from the beginning of each story; each story begins with 'Imaha mukashi' (past from now). It was written in Japanese-Chinese mixed style with katakana in the early 12th century, and is said to be compiled by MINAMOTO no Takakuni. In 'Honchobu sezoku hen' (section describing the secular lives) (本朝部世俗編) the lives of samurai or people who lived through the transition period are vividly described. Some of literary works of modern Japanese literature including Ryunosuke AKUTAGAWA referenced some of those stories.

The Buddhist anecdotes and common tales are included in anecdotes as well as Yusoku kojitsu (court and samurai rules of ceremony and etiquette) in the society of court nobles and inside stories of the Imperial Court, which are called court noble tales. "Godansho" (the Oe Conversations, with anecdotes and gossip) selected by OE no Masafusa who served Emperor Gosanjo and the Retired Emperor Shirakawa and recorded by FUJIWARA no Sanekane (kurodo [chamberlain]), is a representative example of anecdotes; it was written in the first half of the 12th century.

Thereafter, collections of anecdotes; "Uchigiki shu" (Collection of Buddhist Tales) in which Buddhism anecdotes were collected for drafts of preaching in 1134, "Kohon Setsuwa shu" (Collection of Old Tales) in the first half of the 12th century, "Hobutsu shu" (A Collection of Treasures) written by TAIRA no Yasuyori in 1179, were completed; a big stream of literature of preaching stories were succeeded by subsequent generations.

Historical tales

When society was in process of change, it became difficult for court nobles to find a subject from their daily life, and that's why no other fictionalized stories surpassed the "Tale of Genji." A number of people felt that they were in the transition period, and the view point to matter-of-factly see the history was developed among them, thus, historical tales such as "Eiga Monogatari" (A Tale of Flowering Fortunes) or "Okagami" (the Great Mirror) appeared.

"Eiga Monogatari" (main part of a book, volume 1-30) which is said to be written by Akazome Emon in the 11th century is different from official histories in Chinese style such as Rikkokushi (the Six National Histories). It summarized the history as a Japan's own tale. It depicted the entire life of FUJIWARA no Michinaga, and the good old days during the regency period were spotlighted. As a whole, it ended in a list of facts, and is rather short of critical faculties. Although it traced back the glory in past, however, it is written in kana and chronological order which was the first time for historical documents. Depiction of people's image, and statements on annual events, rituals, clothes, and monoimi (confinement to one's house on unlucky days) were used as a great references to know history. In 1092, sequels to "Eiga Monogatari" (volumes 31 to 40) were written, the author is deemed as Idewanoben.

"Okagami" (the Great Mirror) is called "Yotsugi Monogatari" (The Tales of Yotsugi) in that the story is progressed through the conversation between a 190 year-old okina (old man) named OYAKE no Yotsugi and a 180 year-old okina named NATSUYAMA no Shigeki. In "Okagami," the history of emperors for 14 generations, from the Emperor Montoku to Emperor Goichijo in 1025, was stated in Kidentai (biographical historiography). It is composed like a play, and is regarded to be completed in the early 12th century. While it reviewed the period when the Fujiwara clan was in full flower, it matter-of-factly depicted the glory of the Fujiwara clan. The attitude of reviewing a noble society is shown. A new method of using dialog or Q&A to depict history, never seen before, had a strong impact on the historical depiction in later ages.

"Imakagami" (The Mirror of the Present), collection of biography and anecdotes, completed after "Okagami," is regarded completed in 1170. It covered 145 years for the 13 generations from 1025 to the reign of Emperor Takakura in 1170, and it was also called "Shoku Yotsugi" (a sequel to the Tale of Yotsugi). It is the second part of so-called Shikyo (the four historical narratives of the late Heian and early Kamakura periods with the word "mirror" in the title) (Kagamimono - generic name of history book with "Kagami" in its title). The author is FUJIWARA no Tametsune (Jyakucho).

Tale literature

Tale literature during the Insei period was created under the overwhelming reputation and influence of "Genji Monogatari." Authors who intended to write a tale were mainly keen readers of "Genji Monogatari." The author of "Sarashina Nikki" (The Sarashina Diary), the daughter of SUGAWARA no Takasue was one of those readers. According to the okugaki that FUJIWARA no Teika attached on the Gyobutsubon (Emperor's book stock) of "Sarashina Nikki," "Hamamatsu Chunagon Monogatari" (The Tale of Hamamatsu Chunagon) and "Yowanonezame" (Awaken at the midnight) were written by her as well. They are both criticized as imitating "Genji Monogatari" or dealing with unrealistic subjects. On the other hand, there is a different opinion that each story has its own subject and a new tendency; their reputation has been reviewed in recent years.

The tale with the highest reputation among those in the latter half of the 11th century is "Sagoromo Monogatari" (The Tale of Sagoromo) which is considered to be written by Rokujosaiin no senji. The love history of the story's main man character, Sagoromo no taisho who is never satisfied with love, is emotionally depicted.

In the 12th century, a tendency to elaborate to find a new subject came up. "Torikaebaya Monogatari" (The Changelings) is a famous tale that depicts a brother and a sister who attempt to live through their lives; they were opposite in personality, and were treated and raised as the opposite gender by their father. The subject of the tale is linked to gender issues of today.

Apart from that tale, "Tsutsumi Chunagon Monogatari" (The Riverside Counselor's Tales), a collection of ten short tales, has succeeded. The author is unknown, and it is believed to have been completed in 1055. It is known as a good piece in which each stage of life is depicted in story-telling writing. Above all, 'Mushimezuru-Himegimi' (A lady who loves insects and caterpillars) in which unique material is dealt, has been read by people in later ages.

Diary literature

"Sarashina Nikki" is a famous example of daily literature; it is the diary of the daughter of SUGAWARA no Takasue who grew up full of aspiration for "Genji Monogatari" which she just heard of by name. It is believed to have been completed around 1060. It is a diary flashing back her entire life that contained the journey from the Kanto region to Kyoto, the encounter with "Genji Monogatari," and the period from her marriage to her afterlife. The author of "Kagero Nikki" (The Gossamer Years) was her aunt, the mother of FUJIWARA no Michitsuna, and it is pointed out that she was influenced by her.

Apart from Sarashina Nikki, "Jojin Ajari no haha no shu" (A collection of poems by mother of Jojin Ajari) written by a female author (the mother of Jojin Ajari), "Sanukinosuke Nikki" (the Diary of Sanukinosuke) (by FUJIWARA no Nagako), "Takakurain in Itsukushima Gyoko ki" (The record of the visit of a retired Emperor Takakura to Itsukushima) (by a male author, MINAMOTO no Michichika) are famous examples as well.


As for waka, chokusen wakashu (anthology of Japanese poetry compiled by Imperial command) including "Goshui Wakashu" (fourth imperial anthology), "Kinyo Wakashu" (Kinyo Collection of Japanese poems), "Shika Wakashu" (shika collection of Japanese poems), "Senzai Wakashu" (Collection of Japanese Poems of a Thousand Years), were compiled. They correspond to part four to seven of Hachidaishu (eight "Collection of history books by Imperial command"). Famous waka poets such as FUJIWARA no Toshinari or Saigyo (secular name Norikiyo SATO) who was originally a samurai appeared and facilitated to develop a new style in "Shinkokin Wakashu" (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry); they played a big role to develop waka during the medieval period. Toshinari compiled "Choshu eiso" (FUJIWARA no Shunzei's personal collection of poetry) in 1178, and Saigyo compiled a private poetry collection named "Sanka shu" in 1190.

Treatise on waka poetry

The prosperity of waka in the period of Kokufu Bunka (Japan's original national culture) facilitated the development in the study of poetry; beginning with 'Kanajo' (a preface written in kana) by KI no Tsurayuki of "Kokin Wakashu," subjective pieces such as "Shinsen Zuino" (The Essentials of Poetry, Newly Compiled) of FUJIWARA no Kinto appeared. In the Insei period, "Toshiyori Zuino" (Toshiyori's Poetic Essentials) was written by MINAMOTO no Toshiyori in 1115, and "Fukuro zoshi" (Book of Folded Pages) was written by FUJIWARA no Kiyosuke in 1158. Incidentally, 'zuino' refers to 'the documents that described the essential part of waka,' and it is a noun to refer to the treatise on waka poetry.

Various public entertainment

As for public entertainment, court nobles enjoyed songs and ballads from former generations; saibara (genre of Heian-period Japanese court music - primarily consisting of gagaku-styled folk melodies), kagura-uta (songs to accompany kagura performances) and roei recitation of famous phrases from Chinese-style poem or waka.

Saibara are Japanese folk songs or waka arranged in Togaku (Chinese-style) music style. It is sung accompanied by wagon (Japanese harp) at a relaxing time after the formal feast of court nobles. Many of them are romantic exchange songs between lovers.

Roei recitation was sung in various scenes including formal feasts. The songs 'Kashin' (lucky day) are representative of Roei; songs other than 'Kashin' were read in kundoku (reading Chinese texts as Japanese texts), while 'Kashin' was read in ondoku (Chinese reading of kanji). During the Hoan era (1120-1125), FUJIWARA no Mototoshi wrote "Shinsen Roei Shu" (New Selection of Sung Poems).

Sarugaku (form of theatre popular in Japan during the 11th to 14th centuries) which was mainly comical arts and songs, was popular as a public amusement. It started gaining attention in the noble society. In the latter half of the 11h century, "Shin sarugo ki" was written; it is considered to be written by FUJIWARA no Akihira in his later days.

It was originally utamai (a performance of singing and dancing) for labor in agricultural villages that originated in the public entertainment of taasobi (ritual Shinto performance to pray for a good rice-crop for the year) to pray for rich harvest. Dengaku, a dance in time with hayashi (musical accompaniment played on traditional Japanese instruments) such as fue (Japanese flute), drum, sasara (a Japanese traditional percussion instrument) also started drawing attentions of court nobles; it eventually was introduced to the Imperial Court after it entered Kyoto or Nara and became a public entertainment. Above all, 'Dengaku at Matsuo Festival' of Matsunoo-taisha Shrine (Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto City) or 'The big Dengaku festival in Eicho era' which explosively became popular in the summer of 1096, are famous.
The people rushed into the court, dancing frantically, which was recorded as 'all the people in the castle looked crazy.'

The imayo (popular style of song during the Heian period), a popular music among common people, which was based on the seven-and-five syllable meter and four phrases and sung by shirabyoshi, female entertainer (who was often a yujo [a prostitute]), was loved by the noble society. Goshirakawa-in (Retired Emperor Goshirakawa) had been taking lessons of Imayo from Aohata no kugutsu in Mino Province since he was in his teens.

OE no Masafusa, the greatest man of culture during the Insei period wrote "Kugutsushiki" (a document about entertainers), "Yujo ki" (a document about prostitutes), and "Rakuyo dengakuki" (a document about dengaku which was held in the era of Emperor Horikawa). OE no Masafusa gave the art of warfare to MINAMOTO no Yoshiie. There is an episode that the art of warfare that was passed down from Masafusa helped Yoshiie notice an ambush through the disarray of geese in the Gosannen War.

Thus, cultural exchanges between noble society including In and samurai, the common people spread widely. This is not completely unrelated as the cloistered government used the class of zuryo (the head of the provincial governors) as its main support base in order to supervise the sekkan-ke (the families which produced regents).

Apart from these, Buddhist music such as Shomyo (chanting of Buddhist hymns) or chanting Hoke-kyo Sutra was actively performed.

"Ryojin hisho"

The Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa collected and categorized imayo and saibara, and compiled "Ryojin hisho" in 1179. The Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa had interactions with entertainers such as shirabyoshi who were women dressed up in clothing of a man and danced while singing imayo, and kugutsu (kugutsushi [puppet player]) who manipulated puppets in time with a song. The cloistered emperor taught the entertainers songs or was taught unknown songs. It is said that these songs were different from the waka, some of which were formalized at that time, and they represented the emotions of the common people well. They were not only performed at feasts of court nobles, but also often performed at goryoe (ritual ceremony to the repose of spirits of a deceased person) such as Gion Festival, and Buddhist mass at large temples.

"Ryojin hisho" means 'the abridged transcript describing the secret teachings to sing beautifully to such an extent that dusts of beams (architecture) would fly and dance.'
It contains the Buddhist paradise songs, which shows the spread of the Jodo sect. It is remarkable that humorous songs which would later be models of "Nijo Kawara Rakusho" (the Lampoon at Nijo river beach) in Kenmu Restoration period were already contained.

Study on national language and languages

Kunten (guiding marks for rendering Chinese into Japanese) has been added for reading kundoku since the end of the Nara period. In the Insei period, rules of kundoku regarding for Wo, Ko, To, dot, were defined according to groups. "Daijionji Sanzo Hoshi Den" (Book of Kofuku-ji Temple, an important cultural property, etc.) is a representative reference for kunten.

By the end of the tenth century, "Wamyo Ruijusho" (dictionary of Japanese names) was already made, and there was a new progress in the Insei period. "Ruiju Myogi sho" (Japanese-Chinese character dictionary from the late Heian Period), Zushoryo version whose compiler is unknown, (completed around 1000), "Irohajirui sho" (one of Japanese dictionaries in the Heian period) (色葉字類抄) by TACHIBANA no Tadakane (the version constituted of two volumes; completed around 1163-1165), (the version constituted of three volumes; completed around 1182-1184) were newly created. The former listed readings or meanings of Kanji (Chinese characters) classified by radical index with original sources. After the Kamakura period, it was significantly revised, and a Kanchiin version was made. As for the latter, Kanji is looked up by readings of terms classified by i, ro, ha, and by meaning and field. The latter was also enlarged, and it turned out to be "Irohajirui sho" (a dictionary written by Tadakane TACHIBANA during the Heian period) (伊呂波字類抄) which consisted of ten volumes of books. Both greatly influenced Japanese dictionaries in later generations.

Also, Myokaku studied on the pronunciations of Kanji and Bonji (Siddham script). Myokaku wrote "Hanon saho" (a book of ingaku phonology), "Bonjigyo ongi," and "Shittan yoketsu" (a book of Sanskrit study).

Study on history

During the Insei period, history books officially selected, for example Rikkokushi, were not made while historical tales, mentioned earlier, were actively written. History books during this period were "Fuso Ryakki" (A Brief History of Japan), "Honcho seiki" (Chronicle of Imperial Reigns), etc.

"Fuso Ryakki" is a history book privately selected that is believed to be compiled by Priest Koen in Kudoku-in temple on Mt. Hiei during the generation of Emperor Horikawa after 1094. It plays the role as the abridged transcript of Rikkokushi, and substantially influenced later generations.

"Honcho seiki" is a history book compiled by Shinzei Nyudo (FUJIWARA no Michinori) under orders from Retired Emperor Toba. It was completed after 1150, but was not finished due to the death of Shinzei during the Heiji War; furthermore, some parts are missing. However, it is useful as a good reference to know about the Imperial Court and politics during the latter half of the Heian period.

Book on rites

The book on rites defines the procedures of rituals held in the Imperial Court. "Gokeshidai" (the Ritual Protocol of the Oe House) compiled by OE no Masafusa in the Insei period was used importantly as a book on rites during the dynasty age together with "Hokuzansho" (a representative book of ceremonies for the Heian period) by FUJIWARA no Kinto, Ononomiya nenjugyoji (the precedents for annual events of Ononomiya) by FUJIWARA no Sanesuke from the former generation. Apart from them, books on rites according to department or those according to the categories of ritual, such as "Senju-hiki" by FUJIWARA no Tamefusa, "Joi-sho," "Shugyoku Hisho" by MINAMOTO no Arihito, were compiled during the Insei period.

Taihei Gyoran (a Chinese ancient encyclopedia)

The printing technique was developed in those days in China, and also in Japan, educated people preferentially used published books calling them 'surihon' (printed book). Above all, "Taihei Gyoran" was particularly famous. "Taihei Gyoran" is one of the reference books completed during the early Northern Sung Dynasty generation. Various books from the past were quoted, and compiled in 55 categories; a kind of encyclopedia constituting almost 1,000 books. TAIRA no Kiyomori expanded trade between Japan and the Sung Dynasty in China through securing a route through the Inland Sea, acquiring the right to publicly negotiate with Sung from Dazai-fu (local government office in Kyushu region), restoring Owada no tomari (Owada port) in Settsu Province as well as acquiring port entry permission for vessels from Sung at Owada no tomari; in 1179, he purchased Taihei Gyoran and had it copied, dedicating surihon (printed book) to Emperor Takakura with the copied version at hand.


It is around this time when shozoku (costume) of court nobles changed from nae-shozoku (not starched soft fabric costume) with a soft silhouette to kowa-shozoku (stiffly starched costume) with a big square silhouette.

Nae-shozoku dressed by court nobles during the regency period was relaxing in general, and the fabric of the costume it self was also thin and soft. However, during the Insei period, the fabric became thicker and starched, which made the impression stiff. Court caps were also lacquered and hardened. A court cap called "ei" (a kind of cap with a back ornament) which had been tailed down at the rear, flying with wind, came to be worn after tucking it up once and then tailing it down. In general, the importance was placed on dignity rather than on gracefulness. It is thought that such change was not unrelated to the emergence of samurai class.

[Original Japanese]