Konin-Jogan Culture (弘仁・貞観文化)

Konin-Jogan culture is considered in Japanese history to be the culture that flourished in Japan during the Konin and Jogan era of the early Heian period (about the ninth century). This period is called the Konin-Jogan Period. In Japanese art history, the term 'Konin-Jogan Culture' has become less common from the end of the twentieth century, and the term 'early Heian period' is commonly used.


An aristocratic culture centered in Heian-kyo (ancient Kyoto) with influences from the late Tang culture.

It was also a Buddhist culture heavily influenced by esoteric Buddhism such as the Tendai and Shingon sects.

It was also the period when syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism started.


Chinese poetry anthologies
"Ryounshu": a compilation of Chinese-style poetry by Imperial command
"Bunka Shureishu": a compilation of Chinese-style poetry by Imperial command
"Keikokushu": a compilation of Chinese-style poetry by Imperial command
"Shoryoshu": a compilation of Kukai's Chinese-style poetry compiled by Kukai's disciple, Shinzei
"Kanekebunso": a compilation of Chinese-style poetry compiled by SUGAWARA no Michizane
History books
"Ruiji Kokushi": a history book by Imperial command, edited by SUGAWARA no Michizane
Review of poetry
"Bunkyo Hifuron": Review on Chinese-style poetry written by Kukai
Collection of stories (esp. myths, legends etc.)
"Nihon Ryoiki": collection of Buddhism stories edited by Kyokai


There were more temples built in mountainous areas such as Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei and Kongobu-ji Temple on Mt. Koya, and these were different from temples built in Asuka or Heijokyo (ancient Nara) and had a more free outlay of temple buildings. Roofs covered with Japanese cypress barks are also characteristic of these temples.

Muro-ji Temple, Main Hall, Five-story Pagoda


Regarding Buddha statues, Buddha statues made of copper coated with gold, Kanshitsuzo (a method of making a Buddha statue, which is made of canvas and Japanese lacquer, and inside of the statue is cavity) and molded statues became less popular and the majority became wooden statues, with characteristic Ichibokuzukuri (a method of making a Buddha statue from one piece of wood) and Honba-shiki (rippling style), where the clothing has undulating waves.

Standing statue of Yakushi Nyorai (the Healing Buddha)), Genko-ji Temple
Seated statue of Cintamani-cakva (manifestation of Avalokitesvara), Kanshin-ji Temple
Standing statue of Sakyamuni (sage of the Sakyas), Muro-ji Temple
Standing statue of Eleven-faced Goddess of Mercy, Hokke-ji Temple
Statue of the Hachiman-Sanjin (three Japanese gods), Yakushi-ji Temple


Many esoteric Buddhism paintings

Painting of Fudo (Yellow Cetaka), Onjo-ji Temple
Mandala of the Two Realms (commonly called Shingonin Mandala or Saiin Mandala), To-ji Temple
Mandala of the Two Realms (commonly called Takao Mandala), Jingo-ji Temple


Kukai, Emperor Saga and TACHIBANA no Hayanari were called the "Three Famous Calligraphers."

"Fushinjo": (the letters Kukai wrote to Saicho)


Prominent aristocrats had a private dorm oratory facility called Daigaku-besso for the education of their children and this later became affiliated with the Daigaku-ryo (Bureau of Education under the ritsuryo system). Kobun-in, established by WAKE no Hiroyo, Kangaku-in, established by FUJIWARA no Fuyutsugu, Gakkan-in, established by TACHIBANA no Kachiko and TACHIBANA no Ujikimi, and Shogaku-in, established by ARIWARA no Yukihira are four of the most famous Daigaku-besso.

The subjects were Kidendo, which was the study of Chinese history and literature, Myobodo, the study of law, Myogyodo, the study of Confucianism, Sando, the study of mathematics (Kidendo was the most important).

Kukai established the Shugei-shuchi-in for the education of the ordinary public.

[Original Japanese]