Wayo (Japanese Style) (和様)

The Japanese "Wayo" (Japanese style) means things with Japanese tastes or Japanese-style, used as the opposite of "karayo" (Chinese style) meaning those with Chinese tastes or Chinese-style. In the narrow sense, the word "Wayo" is used as a synonym of "Wayo Architecture" (Japanese-style architecture). In fact, "Wayo" is extensively used for the works including calligraphy, paintings and sculptures produced in the mid to the late Heian period, when the Japanese style became prominent for the first time in the Japanese art history. In the strict sense of the word, however, many things classified as Wayo are not of Japanese origin. Wayo is a style attained by taking the culture and products imported from the Tang dynasty in the Asuka period and the Nara period as a model, and by remodeling them into a style matching the environment of Japan as well as the sensitivity of Japanese.

With the decline in the power of the Tang dynasty which had governed China, the dispatch of the Japanese envoy to the Tang dynasty had been suspended since the middle of the ninth century (officially, envoys to Tang China were abolished in 894), which resulted in the appearance of the Kokufu Bunka (indigenous Japanese culture). Especially, the establishment of the writing system in Japanese was an excellent product. Although hiragana (Japanese syllabary characters) had been believed for long to be used only by female, male also used hiragana in writing informal sentences like waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables), which are shown in "Kokin Wakashu" (A Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry), the first Chokusenshu (anthology of poems compiled by Imperial command) in Japan, written in hiragana-mingled style. While both kanji (Chinese characters) and hiragana were used together in Japanese writing, the dots and strokes making up a kanji character gradually came to have curve lines like hiragana characters. Meanwhile, calligraphy of Japanese style newly appeared in the field of calligraphy. Various writing style were produced, including a style produced by ONO no Tofu taking the writing style of Wang Xi-zhi as a model, and a style called "Jodai style" (ancient style) produced by FUJIWARA no Yukinari, FUJIWARA no Sukemasa and others. Furthermore, "Wayo-shoho" (Wayo writing style) such as Hoshoji-ryu School and Sesonji-ryu School later appeared. Moreover, instead of the architectural style influenced by the continent culture, which is observed in the Buddhist temples and statues of Buddha built in the Asuka and Nara period, "Wayo Architecture" incorporating original Japanese elements appeared.