Nara: The ancient capital celebrating its
1,300th anniversary in 2010
leaders: Hiroshi Kawaguchi (Tezukayama University) and
Taisaku Komeie (Kyoto University)
Welcome to Nara! In 710,
capital was moved to Nara. We
will focus on the historical succession of this old city from ancient times
to the 1300th anniversary in 2010.
Our first visit will be to Heijo Palace,
which is the main site for the commemorative events. Historical geographers
in the nineteenth century reconstructed the landscape of the ancient capital
with grid pattern planning. Recent archaeological and political conditions of
the heritage site will be the topic for a short tour at the Nara National
Research Institute for Cultural Properties. We will taste the local cuisine
and attempt to recreate ancient courtly meals. Different types of ancient
rice and cheese-like dairy products will be served.
Suzaku Gate of Heijo Palace
In the afternoon, we proceed to Todaiji Temple.
Built in the mid-eighth century, Todaiji Temple is a
prime example of ancient Buddhism, which was brought to Japan from
China via Korea. The
Chinese civilization and Buddhism provided an essential basis for ancient
national governance in Japan. Nara was
the east end of the Silk Road and Todaiji Temple
holds many treasures brought from West and Central
Asia via China. The
oldest world map, which depicts the Indian cosmology, can be found on a lotus
pedestal under the Great Buddha.
We will take a short walk around old Nara.
After the relocation of the capital to Kyoto in
survived as the major centre of Buddhism and as a local market. The landscape
of the old town with its traditional white-washed facades is a popular tourist