Places, Images, Times & Transformations

Nara Period (710 – 794)

Beginning with the establishment of the new imperial capital at Nara in 710, the Nara Period marked the incipient stage of the classical era of Japanese history.  It was during this period that imperial power was cemented and the dogma of imperial succession from the sun goddess, Amaterasu, was codified in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki.  The Nara Period was also marked by the development of two powerful schools of Buddhism, Tendai and the more esoteric Shingon, and the ascendancy of Buddhism in general.  The era came to an end when the Emperor Kanmu (737 – 806) decided to move the capital shortly after the death of the Empress Kōken (718 – 770), in an attempt to remove the court from the intrigues and power plays of the Buddhist establishment at Nara. At first, Emperor Kanmu relocated the capital to Nagaoka-kyo (15km from Kyoto) in 784, but due to continual flooding on the nearby rivers, relocated the capital again to Heiankyō (Kyōto) in 794.

As with the previous maps, and subsequent maps, areas in red indicate the boundaries of settlement and political control by what modern ethnographers consider ‘ethnic’ Japanese.

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Japan Module | Map | Nara Period (710 – 794)