Finally, armed intramural conflict over imperial succession in the mid-12th century allowed Taira Kiyomori, warlord and ostensible peacekeeper, to usurp the imperial line.Thus, while sometimes viewed nostalgically as an unbroken series of halcyon years during which courtly aestheticism produced the “classical” body of Japanese literature and art, the Heian period was in fact a time of ongoing political contention during which imperial attempts at centralization of government were consistently checked and ultimately defeated by powerful provincial warlords.For nearly four centuries Heian-kyō was the crucible for a remarkable florescence of Japanese art.Within a century after the move from Nara, political chaos in China caused the cessation of official embassies to the continent.Nagaoka, a site to the north of Nara and slightly to the west of present-day Kyōto.This move was an attempt to escape the meddling dominance of the Buddhist clerics in Nara and thus to allow unfettered development of a centralized government.Literature and art of the period were thus often infused with nuances of sadness, melancholy, and regret.The consolations of Buddhism stressed the impermanence of life and served to reinforce for aristocratic believers the deeper meaning of readily apparent social developments.
From the founding of Heian-kyō until the mid-10th century was a period of relative imperial control aided by counselors from the Fujiwara clan.
In theory, all land and its revenue-producing capability was the property of the central government.
In reality, outlying land managers, aristocrats, temples, and warlords accumulated landholdings unabated throughout the Heian period, ultimately crippling the economic power of the court.
This early Mahayana sutra was structured into its canonical form in China in the early 5th century and thereafter adopted by Tiantai as the most appropriate expression of the sect’s universalist teachings.
Saichō returned to Japan in 805 and petitioned the court to establish a Tendai monastery on Mount Hiei.