Heian Period


The Heian Period of Japanese history covers 794 to 1185 CE and saw a great flourishing in Japanese culture from literature to paintings. Government and its administration came to be dominated by the Fujiwara clan who eventually were challenged by the Minamoto and Taira clans. The period, named after the capital Heiankyo, closes with the Genpei War in which the Minamoto were victorious and their leader Yoritomo established the Kamakura Shogunate.

More about: Heian Period


  • 767 - 822
    Life of Saicho, founder of Tendai Buddhism in Japan.
  • 774 - 835
    Life of the monk Kukai (aka Kobo Daishi), founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan.
  • 781 - 806
    Reign of Emperor Kammu in Japan.
  • c. 793 - 864
    Life of Ennin, the Buddhist scholar-monk and abbot of Enryakuji, who brought many esoteric teachings from China to Japan.n
  • 794
    Emperor Kammu moves the Japanese capital to Heiankyo (Kyoto).
  • 794 - 1185
    The Heian Period in ancient Japan.
  • 794
    Emperor Kammu builds the Shinto Herano shrine at Heiankyo (Kyoto).
  • 826
    A five-storey pagoda is added to the To-ji temple complex in Heiankyo (Kyoto).
  • 838
    Last Japanese embassy to China during the Heian Period.
  • 845 - 903
    Life of the deified scholar and court official Sugawara no Michizane, aka Tenjin.
  • 849
    Ennin leads the first imperial-sponsored esoteric ritual at Enryakuji, Japan.
  • 854
    Ennin becomes the abbot of Enryakuji, Heiankyo (Kyoto), Japan.
  • 859
    The Iwashimizu shrine is built and dedicated to the Shinto god Hachiman in Heiankyo (Kyoto).
  • 866
    Fujiwara no Yoshifusa becomes the first Japanese regent not of royal blood.
  • 874
    The Buddhist Daigoji temple is founded by Shobo at Heiankyo (Kyoto).
  • 887 - 897
    Reign of Japan's Emperor Uda
  • 897 - 930
    Reign of Japan's Emperor Daigo.
  • 899
    Sugawara no Michizane (Tenjin) is made Minister of the Right. The Fujiwara leader Tokihira is made Minister of the Left.
  • 901
    Sugawara no Michizane (Tenjin) is exiled to Dazaifu, Kyushu.
  • 905
    The Kokinshu anthology of Japanese poetry is compiled.
  • 905
    The Kokinshu anthology of poems is compiled in Japan by Ki no Tsurayuki.
  • c. 951
    The five-storey pagoda is built at Daigoji, Heiankyo (Kyoto).
  • 987
    Sugawara no Michizane is officially deified and given the title Tenjin.
  • 995
    Fujiwara no Michinaga becomes the Fujiwara clan leader in Japan.
  • c. 1002
    Sei Shonagon completes The Pillow Book, a Japanese classic describing court life during the Heian Period.
  • c. 1004
    Japanese poet Izumi Shikibu writes her 'Izumi Shikibu Diary'.
  • c. 1020
    The Tale of Genji is completed by Murasaki Shikibu in Japan.
  • 1052
    The Buddhist temple site Byodo-in is founded in Japan by Fujiwara no Yorimichi.
  • 1073 - 1087
    Reign of Emperor Shirakawa in Japan.
  • 1073 - 1087
    Reign of Japan's Emperor Shirakawa.
  • 1115
    The Buddhist Daigoji temple complex at Heiankyo (Kyoto) is significantly expanded.
  • 1156
    Hogen Disturbance in Japan.
  • 1160
    Heiji Disturbance in Japan.
  • 1164
    The Buddhist Sanjusangendo temple is founded at Heiankyo (Kyoto), Japan.
  • 1180
    Taira forces defeat an army led by Minamoto no Yorimasa.
  • 1180 - 1185
    The Genpei War in Japan between the Taira and Minamoto clans.
  • 1181
    Taira forces defeat an army led by Minamoto no Yukie.
  • 1183 - 1198
    Reign of Japan's Emperor Go-Toba.
  • 1183
    Japanese emperor Go-Shirakawa officially recognises the authority of Minamoto no Yoritomo in the Kanto region.
  • 1183
    Kiso Yoshinaka defeats a large Taira army at Kurikara in Etchu and occupies the Japanese capital Heiankyo (Kyoto).
  • 1185
    Battle of Dannoura where the Minamoto defeat the rival Taira. The young emperor Antoku drowns.