Robert Oxnam :: Japan's
classical period spanned the sixth to the twelfth centuries. Unfortunately,
this period is often neglected in world history textbooks. In time it falls
after the classical eras of Greece, China, and India. lt precedes the quite
distinctive medieval period in Japan, famous for its samurai warriors, that
began in the twelfth century.
But here in the classical period, we see a pattern that often recurs. The
Japanese consciously and deliberately borrow — in this instance from
China. Then they create a cultural synthesis which is uniquely Japanese.
The classical period gave birth to a refined court culture, in which many
of the prominent figures were women. One of them, Murasaki Shikibu, wrote
what is today considered by many to be the world's first novel, the Tale
This classical culture laid the basis for later Japanese civilization.
Haruo Shirane :: One of the things
about Japanese culture is, it never sheds the earlier periods, as in the
Chinese tradition. Each layer continues to coexist with the new. So each
period — the medieval period, the Tokugawa period, the modern period — produces
new literature, new aesthetics, but the old continues to coexist with it.