Education About Asia: Online Archives

Teaching about Heian Japan

Download PDF

By Melinda Varner

Until quite recently, many world cultures and world history textbooks for middle and high school classrooms devoted scant copy, if any, to Japan’s Nara (710–784 CE) and Heian (794–1185 CE) periods. An examination of several 2005 editions of commonly- used secondary world history textbooks reveals that this state of affairs seems to be rapidly changing over the past two or three years, most likely in response to the inclusion of more content on this period in the National Standards for World History. As a result, many educators are finding themselves teaching about Heian Japan for the first time and grappling with the question of what is teachable about classical Japan during the limited classroom time they can devote to the subject.