History of Japan
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Nara Period Part I ©Buyuuden Japanese History
710 Jan 1 - 794

Nara Period

Nara, Japan

The Nara period of the history of Japan covers the years from 710 to 794 CE. Empress Genmei established the capital of Heijō-kyō (present-day Nara). Except for a five-year period (740–745), when the capital was briefly moved again, it remained the capital of Japanese civilization until Emperor Kanmu established a new capital, Nagaoka-kyō, in 784, before moving to Heian-kyō, modern Kyoto, a decade later in 794. Japanese society during this period was predominately agricultural and centered on village life. Most of the villagers followed Shintoism, a religion based on the worship of natural and ancestral spirits named kami. The capital at Nara was modeled after Chang'an, the capital city of the Tang dynasty. In many other ways, the Japanese upper classes patterned themselves after the Chinese, including adopting the Chinese writing system, Chinese fashion, and a Chinese version of Buddhism.