Heian Period

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The Heian period was is a period in Japanese history running from 794 to 1185. It is named after the capital Heiankyo, today's Kyoto. Japan was ruled by the Heian Court during this time. While the Emperors remained the de jure ruler of Japan throughout the period, they lost power to court nobility, especially the Fujiwara clan. The Fujiwara leaders became hereditary Regents for the Emperors.

Court authority declined with the rise of the provincial warrior nobility of the Taira and Minamoto clans. The end of the Heian period was the establishment of the Shogunate by Minamoto no Yoritomo and the shift of power from the Imperial seat Heiankyo to the Shogun's seat at Kamakura near today's Tokyo, the beginning of the Kamakura period.

The Heian period was an era of peace and prosperity for central and western Japan. Court culture flourished, poetry was highly regarded and one of the world's first novels, the Genji monogatari, was written in the early eleventh century by Murasaki Shikibu.