Nara (city)

Nara (city)


Nara (奈良市, Nara-shi, Japanese: [naꜜɾa]) is the capital city of Nara Prefecture, Japan. As of 1 April 2019, Nara has an estimated population of 359,666, making it the largest city in Nara Prefecture and sixth-largest in the Kansai region of Honshu. Nara is a core city located in the northern part of Nara Prefecture bordering the Kyoto Prefecture.

Nara was the capital of Japan during the Nara period from 710 to 794 as the seat of the Emperor before the capital was moved to Kyoto. Nara is home to eight temples, shrines, and ruins, specifically Tōdai-ji, Saidai-ji, Kōfuku-ji, Kasuga Shrine, Gangō-ji, Yakushi-ji, Tōshōdai-ji, and the Heijō Pa...Read more


Nara (奈良市, Nara-shi, Japanese: [naꜜɾa]) is the capital city of Nara Prefecture, Japan. As of 1 April 2019, Nara has an estimated population of 359,666, making it the largest city in Nara Prefecture and sixth-largest in the Kansai region of Honshu. Nara is a core city located in the northern part of Nara Prefecture bordering the Kyoto Prefecture.

Nara was the capital of Japan during the Nara period from 710 to 794 as the seat of the Emperor before the capital was moved to Kyoto. Nara is home to eight temples, shrines, and ruins, specifically Tōdai-ji, Saidai-ji, Kōfuku-ji, Kasuga Shrine, Gangō-ji, Yakushi-ji, Tōshōdai-ji, and the Heijō Palace, together with Kasugayama Primeval Forest, collectively form the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

History Pre-Nara/Origins

There are a number of kofun in Nara, including Gosashi Kofun, Hishiage Kofun (ヒシアゲ古墳), Horaisan Kofun (宝来山古墳), Konabe Kofun (コナベ古墳), Saki Ishizukayama Kofun (佐紀石塚山古墳), Saki Misasagiyama Kofun (佐紀陵山古墳), and Uwanabe Kofun (ウワナベ古墳).

By decree of an edict on March 11, 708 AD, Empress Genmei ordered the court to relocate to the new capital, Nara.[1] Once known as Heijō or Heijō-kyō, the city was established as Japan's first permanent capital in 710 CE; it was the seat of government until 784 CE, albeit with five year interruption, lasting from 741-5 CE.[1][2] Heijō, as the ‘penultimate court’, however, was abandoned by the order of Emperor Kammu in 784 CE in favor of the temporary site of Nagaoka, and then Heian-kyō (Kyoto) which retained the status of capital for 1,100 years, until the Meiji Emperor made the final move to Edo in 1869 CE.[3][2][4] This first relocation was due to the court's transformation from an imperial nobility to a force of metropolitan elites and new technique of dynastic shedding which had refashioned the relationship between court, nobility, and country.[3] Moreover, the ancient capital lent its name to Nara period.[2]

As a reactionary expression to the political centralization of China, the city of Nara (Heijō) was modeled after the Tang capital at Chang’an.[4] Nara was laid out on a grid—which was based upon the Handen system—whereby the city was divided by four great roads.[2] Likewise, according to Chinese cosmology, the ruler's place was fixed like the pole star. By dominating the capital, the ruler brought heaven to earth.[5] Thus, the south facing palace centered at the north, bisected the ancient city, instituting ‘Right Capital’ and ‘Left Capital’ zones.[3][5] As Nara came to be an epicenter of Buddhism in Japan and a prominent pilgrimage site, the city plan incorporated various pre-Heijō and Heijō period temples, of which the Yakushiji and the Todaiji still stand.[3][4]

Gallery

Gosashi tomb

Politics

A number of scholars have characterized the Nara period as a time of penal and administrative legal order.[6] The Taihō Code called for the establishment of administrative sects underneath the central government, and modeled many of the codes from the Chinese Tang dynasty.[7] The code eventually disbanded, but its contents were largely preserved in the Yōrō Code of 718.[7]

Occupants of the throne during the period gradually shifted their focus from military preparation to religious rites and institutions, in an attempt to strengthen their divine authority over the population.[6]

Religion and Temples Nanto Rokushū

With the establishment of the new capital, Asuka-dera, the temple of the Soga clan, was relocated within Nara.[8] The Emperor Shōmu ordered the construction of Tōdai-ji Temple (largest wooden building in the world) and the world's largest bronze Buddha statue.[4] The temples of Nara, known collectively as the Nanto Shichi Daiji, remained spiritually significant even beyond the move of the political capital to Heian-kyō in 794, thus giving Nara a synonym of Nanto (南都 "The southern Capital").

On December 2, 724 AD, in order to increase the visual “magnificence” of the city, an edict was ordered by the government for the noblemen and the wealthy to renovate the roofs, pillars, and walls of their homes, although at that time this was unfeasible.[1]

Sightseeing in Nara city became popular in the Edo period, during which several visitor's maps of Nara were widely published.[9] During the Meiji Period, the Kofukuji Temple lost some land and its monks were converted into Shinto priests, due to Buddhism being associated with the old shogunate.[10]

Gallery

Tōdai-ji is a Buddhist temple and the world's largest wooden building (8th century)

Yakushi-ji was completed in 680

Kōfuku-ji was built in 669

Houtokuji (Yagyu Clan Tomb)

Himuro Shrine, established in 710

Modern Nara

Even though Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 794, it was not designated a city until 1 February 1898. Nara has since developed from a town of commerce in the Edo and Meiji periods to a modern tourist city, due to its large number of historical temples, landmarks and national monuments. Nara was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in December 1998.[11] The architecture of some shops, ryokans and art galleries has been adapted from traditional merchant houses.[10]

Nara holds traditional festivals every year, including the Neri-Kuyo Eshiki, a spring festival held in Todaiji temple for over 1,000 years; and the Kemari Festival, in which people wear costumes ranging across 700 years and play traditional games).[12]

In 1909, Tatsuno Kingo designed the Nara Hotel, whose architecture combined modern elements with traditional Japanese style.[10]

^ a b c Ogata, Noboru. "Nara (Heijô-kyô) — The Capital of Japan in the 8th Century". Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University. Retrieved 2018-10-18. ^ a b c d Toby, Ronald (Autumn 1985). "Why Leave Nara?: Kammu and the Transfer of the Capital". Monumenta Nipponica. 40 (3): 331–347. doi:10.2307/2384764. JSTOR 2384764. ^ a b c d Burnett Hall, Robert (December 1932). "The Yamato Basin, Japan". Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 22 (4): 243–292. doi:10.1080/00045603209357109. JSTOR 2560778. ^ a b c d Johnston, Norman (1969). "Nara: The Old Imperial Capital of Japan". The Town Planning Review. 40 (1): 331–347. doi:10.3828/tpr.40.1.e34hm24750840401. JSTOR 40102657. ^ a b Ebrey, Patricia (2014). Modern East Asia: From 1600: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. Boston: Wadsworth. ^ a b Whitney Hall, John (2014). The Cambridge History of Japan, Volume 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ^ a b The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Taihō code". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-10-18. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help) ^ Ogata, Noboru (2004-10-13). "Asuka in Nara – Gangô-ji Monastery and the Old Town of Nara". Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University. Retrieved 2018-10-18. ^ Yamachika, Hiroyoshi. "Tourist Maps of Nara in the Edo Period". Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University. Retrieved 2018-10-18. ^ a b c Nara Prefectural Government Tourism Bureau Tourism Promotion Division. "Historical Timeline of Nara". Visit Nara. Retrieved 2018-10-18. ^ "Travel Tips - Official Nara Travel Guide". Official Nara Travel Guide. Retrieved 2018-10-25. ^ "Stroll Around Naramachi (Town of Nara) | Nara Travelers Guide". narashikanko.or.jp (in Japanese). Retrieved 2018-10-25.
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