Celebrating the 1300th Anniversary of Nara’s Heijo-kyo Capital
Visit old site of ancient capital and experience the world of Tempyo
Nara Heijo-kyo Capital flourished as Japan's first international capital. Japanese ancient culture blended with various foreign cultures introduced through the Silk Road. In Nara lie the origins of the history, culture and spirit of Japan and of the Japanese people. The year 2010 marks the 1300th anniversary since the establishment of Heijo-kyo. A number of special commemorative events are being held in and around Nara this year. Join in this big celebration and discovers essence of Japan!
Heijo-kyo Palace, where Japan’s Origin was Formed
The main venue of this large celebrative year is the Heijo Palace Site. The emperor lived and worked with many officials and functionaries in the Heijo Palace, which was situated at the northern end of central Heijo-kyo Capital. Imperial edicts were sent out from Heijo Palace to locations throughout Japan, uniting them into a single country.
The city and the palace grounds was based largely on Changan (present-day Xian), the capital of China during the Tang Dynasty. Changan was based on a complex system of beliefs & laws of geomancy. This dictated the grid system of streets, as well as the necessity for spiritually protective shrines or temples to be placed at particular cardinal directions around the city.
In accordance with this system, the Palace was placed at the northern end, on an extended line from Suzaku Street, the main thoroughfare running north-south straight through the center of the city. The primary buildings of the Palace compound were the Daigoku-den, where governmental affairs were conducted, the Chodo-in where formal ceremonies were held, the Dairi, the Emperor's residence, and offices for various administrative agencies.
The Daigoku-den was fully reproduced as one of the largest celebrative projects for this year. On the north edge of the site, Daigoku-den stands still with dignity. This is the place where all important national rituals were held with presence of emperor. After thorough historical research, this huge building was reproduced exactly what it looked like 1300 years ago.
Special Attractions and Exhibitions in the Heijyo Palace Site
Heijo-kyo History Museum
Heijo-kyo History Museum features a wide range of exhibit areas introducing the early history of nation building as well as life and culture in ancient times. Life in the Japan of 1300 years ago will be recreated.
Heijo-kyo Narikiri Experience Museum
A large scale experience-based facility where visitors can learn about the life and culture (Tempyo-era costume experience, Heijo-kyo Palace officer work experience, etc.).
Nara Palace Site Tour
People can enjoy exploring the Heijo Palace Site and its surrounding area with digital multilingual guide terminal (English, French, Chinese, Korean).
Daigoku-den Hall: Feel the Emperor’s Splendour
On the north side of the Heijo Palace Site stands a reproduction of the massive Daigoku-den Hall. It was designed using the latest architectural techniques and gorgeous decoration of those days. After three large-scale excavation investigations, Daigoku-den Hall was completed this year in all its original splendour after nine years of reconstruction work.
Takamikura Emperor’s Throne
Takamikura is the special seat reserved exclusively for the emperor. The seat is like a small room and the emperor sat here to watch the rituals and ceremonies held in front of the Daigoku-den. The impressive patterns on the curtain and wall could only be used by such an illustrious person as the emperor.
Shibi Roof-top Decoration
Shibi is a pair of decorations found on the both sides of the rooftop. They originally represent a legendary fish creature in ancient India whose form was changed to that of a jumping fish. Made of tile or bronze and gorgeously covered with gold, their form fully reflects the dignity of the architecture of that time. The shibi on the Daigoku-den Hall are 2.5 meters tall (full-scale shibi is displayed in the hall).
This metal decoration hung on the four outside corners of the roof edge. It is made with bronze and covered with gold. Though it is quite large and heavy, it makes sound like a bell when the wind blows.
The gold metal decoration applied to the surface of each wood piece on the roof also serves to protect the wood from corrosion. The intricate pattern depicts a superior elegance.
Colorful illustrations of lotus flowers (the symbol of reincarnation in Buddhism) are painted one by one over the entire ceiling. Four Sacred Guardian Creatures (White Tiger, Turtle, Phoenix and Dragon) and other legendary animals can also be found painted on the sidewalls by a Japanese master painter.
Wear Tempyo-era Costume and Explore the Palace Site
At Heijo-kyo Narikiri Experience Museum, you can try on the costumes of an imperial court officer from the Tempyo period.
*9:30-16:30 (until 17:30 on Sat., Sun., national holidays until Aug. 31); free of charge for foreigners (passport required); small size for children available.
Examples of the finery worn by the court officers in the Heijo Palace
Only at the Heijo Palace Site! Try the unique and special taste of Nara
Full size! Full of Nara’s taste!!Sento Sushi Burger
An absolutely unique and original sushi burger is here! Sandwiched between ancient black sushi rice (vinegar-flavored), the ‘burger’ contains all kinds of delicious ingredients: deep-fried shrimp, smoked salmon, ham, cream cheese, Nara’s pickles, fried egg, wasabi spicy horse radish mayonnaise, and more! Both the taste and size will surely satisfy your appetite. 680 yen/Azuma-zushi: Open: 9:00-17:00.
Traditional Nara cuisine in one lunch box!Sento Basket Lunch
A traditional Japanese lunch is served in the Restaurant Sento. Nara’s traditional cuisine along with local vegetables and meat are cooked into fine Japanese dishes. The Sento Basket Lunch includes unique Mehari-sushi (a vinegar flavored rice ball wrapped with a salted green leaf).
1,500 yen; Restaurant Sento: in the Exchange Plaza: Open: 9:00-16:30 (open longer hours during the special event period); take out menu available.
Nara’s specialty fruit turned into sweets Persimmon Manju
A persimmon farm offers these unique persimmon sweets only for the 1300th anniversary year. Filled with a sweet paste made by simmering fresh persimmon and sugar syrup. The subtle yuzu citrus flavor refreshingly compliments the taste of persimmon.
1,050 yen (6 pieces); Yoshino Ishii; in the Nara no Aji-kan: Open: 9:00-17:00 (open longer during the special event period).