As for the population of Heian-kyo, it is estimated that about one hundred thousand people lived their in the early Heian period. The city by no means had good public security and hygiene. Excretions were dumped into the gutter of the road, and therefore, plagues often spread in the city. Besides, there was a huge gap between the poor and rich. For example, the lowest class people didn't have their houses and worked in aristocracies' residences, and then expelled when they became unhealthy — those bodies are eaten by birds and dogs.
The common images of Heian period among today's Japanese people are aristocrats, effeminate cultures, and peace. However, Heian period was not so peace days in reality. The authority in the western Japan attempted to dominate the eastern and northern Japan. In particular, the eastern Japan played an important role as the base for soldiers who are to go to the northern Japan to attack and dominate there. As a result, the eastern Japan came to have many soldiers and it became the driving force of the following military administration called Kamakura-bakufu.
As for aristocrats' amusement, various kinds of game were come up with by themselves. Even football-like game called "Kemari" had been enjoyed among them, though it was not as hard as football since it was played by aristocrats. Specifically, several men stand in moderate space like the photo below. They each has to pass the ball one of the other players without bounding on the ground. Although, there basically was no wining or losing in Kemari, manners were valued instead.
Each player was required to touch the ball three times and each touch had its meaning. The first touch was for receiving the ball from another player, the second touch was for exhibiting their own skills, and the third touch was for passing the ball to another player. Kemari originally came from China and enjoyed first by aristocrats. After that, it came to be enjoyed among all classes of Japanese people. Although about the early Meiji period, people stopped playing Kemari, Japanese emperor ordered to establish its preservation society.
Then let me wright on some architectural structures built during Heian period.
1) Joruriji Temple
Joruriji Temple is located in outskirts of Kyoto prefecture. In its site, there still are the major hall, three stories tower, and garden centering a pond. The most notable feature of this temple is its main hall's design and the exhibition. For exhibiting nine buddhism statues in a row, the main hall has a horizontally long structure. The nine statues are painted in gold and sitting on a horizontally long base wood — they have been designated as a national treasure.
2) Daigoiji Temple
Daigoji Temple was registered as a World Heritage Site in 1994. As one of the famous stories related to the Daigoji temple, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a shogun who almost ruled all over Japan in the 16th century, held a cherry-blossom viewing party in the Daigoji Temple. It was one of the major ceremonies he held during his administration. Most of the invited guests were women, and powerful samurai clans were in charge of guarding and managing the ceremony.
After about half a year of the party, Hideyoshi died of a high fever of uncertain cause. It is said that people in power covertly tried to read each other's minds and intensions about the behavior after Hideyoshi's death in the party. The number of the invited guests of the party was about 1,300, and women who attended the party were ordered to change their dress two times in the party — the cost for those dresses was worth about 4 billion dollars in present value of money (as of 2015).
Hideyoshi elaborately did preliminary inspection for the cherry-blossom viewing party in the site of the Daigoji Temple. First, he was surprised at how torn the temples were. He asked the chief priest why those temples had been in such a condition and left as they were. The chief priest replied that they were torn by repetitive wars and armed conflicts. "We cannot afford to reconstruct them," he said to Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi decided to reconstruct the torn temples and transplanted about 700 cherry trees into the site from near regions.
Cherry-blossom viewing party at the Daigo Temple
~ closure of the Heian period ~
In those days, Japanese samurai classes are divided into two great families or clans, Genji and Heishi, and in the Heian period, Heishi had been ruling. They are dispatched officers to rural areas and those officers had been exploiting the people living there. Particularly, samurai classes living in the east Japan had been seeking a chance to revolt against Heishi. But they were in anxiety because if one clan of them carried out a revolt, they might be suppressed as a rebel army from the surrounding clans that were ordered by the central administration.
In above circumstances, the clans in the east Japan came to look to Minamoto no Yoritomo, a general descending from Genji family. Therefore, many powers in the east Japan gathered under Minamoto no Yoritomo. His innovative management system was also a cause that drew many samurais to him. He distributed lands he seized in a battle to samurais who made some achievement in the battle. Such a merit system like that was favored by samurais.
As a result, Yoritomo unified and supressed the east Japan, and then, defeated Heiji who had been in power in those days. After that, he makes the Emperor family appoint him as the head of samurais all over Japan. That, vertually, was the first time when samurais, namely soldiers, grasped the power of administration in Japanese history — their government was called Bakufu. Although Bakufu has the real power, the Emperor family had sperior position to it.
In other words, Bakufu or any other samurai clans cannot its varidity without Emperor's approval. In fact, in a battle in the late edo period, when one side troops flew an frag of the emperor, the other side troops fallen into disorder with many soldiers fleeing from the battle field. Even though the real power shifted to the leader of samurai class, the Emperor family called Chotei still had nominally been in the supreme position.Since the dawn of Japanese history, the Emperor has always been existing as it until today.
Anyway, Minamotono Yoritomo made a model of samurai-ruled government that endured throughout the medieval times in Japan. In short, it was an administration ruled by the most powerful samurai clan backed by the Emperor family. By the way, the last war of Heiji and Genji that vertually brout a closure to Heian period is a very popular event in Japanese history. The war, called "battle of dan-no-ura", was a sea battle in a strait located in the southern tip of Japan's main island.
It was a fleet battle of ancient times. Soldiers were embarked in battle sips to fight with archeries, and then rode in opponents' ship to go into hand-to-hand fight. Even noble people and emperor family were on those ships. When the defeat of Heiji became all but certain, many of those nobeles threw themselves into the sea. A story of the eight-year-old emperor who has gone into the sea with his mother is popular.The story about Heiji's ups and downs became an opera-like drama and and was handed down from from generation to generation.
Heiji also was one of samurai clans likewise Genji. But they based in Kyoto and ingratiated themselves with noble people and the Emperor family to control them. Their purpose was accomplished and they grasped the real power of the emperor administration system in those days. However, as a result of the success, they assimilated in noble people, absorbing cultural activity that were fashionalble in those days. Consequently, their fighting ability was spoiled and it became one of the major reasons of their defeat.