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In the year 710 it was decided new to set up a permanent residential capital for the imperial court, initially to the west of here Naniwa (present-day Osaka) and then here at Nara.
Laid out like a chessboard (nearly half the size of China’s similarly designed capital, Change’an), Nara had its imperial palace at the northern end, with court residences, Buddhist monasteries, and Shinto shrines stretching to the south. In those peaceful years, without threat of foreign invasion or civil war, there were no city ramparts.
The era known as the Nara Period was marked by the religious fervour of the Buddhist monks and also by their accompanying artistic achievements. The Japanese were attracted more to Buddhism’s ritual and art than to its complex philosophy, rendered all the more difficult because its texts were, for several centuries, available only in Chinese, the language of a small court elite. Buddhist monks initiated great progress in Japanese architecture, bronze-casting, bridge building, and sculpture. To this day, historians of Chinese art find the best surviving examples of Tang-dynasty architecture among the seventh and eighth-century temples in and around Nara.
By marrying his daughters to sons of the reigning emperor and then engineering timely abdications, a Fujiwara contrived always to be father-in-law, uncle, or grandfather behind the throne. Very often the emperor was only a minor, so that the Fujiwara patriarch acted as regent. He then persuaded the emperor to abdicate soon after his majority, and the regency would continue for the next youthful incumbent. The important thing was to have the emperor’s sanctions for the regent’s political decisions.
Very few emperors were reluctant to submit to Fujiwara domination. The burden of his spiritual functions as high priest of Shinto and the tasks of administration led the emperor to welcome and early abdication, frequently to retire to a life of Buddhist meditation and scholarship. The Fujiwara resented the Buddhist clergy’s great and growing influence in imperial affairs. There were too many monasteries in and around Nara. It was time to move the capital.
Although there are no reliable accounts of this period, third-century Chinese documents speak of a Japanese priestess-queen, Himiko, ruling over a land of law-abiding people who enjoyed alcohol and were divided into classes distinguished by tattoo marks. Five centuries later, Japan’s own Kojiki and Nihon-shoki chronicles describe the creation of the imperial dynasty in the year 660 B.C : the first emperor, Jimmu (“Divine Warrior”)—great grandson of the Sun Goddess’s grandson—embarked on an expedition of conquest from Kyushu along the Inland Sea coast to the Yamato Plain of the Kinki region (near modern-day Nara).
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The Fushimi-Inari Shrine is in southern Kyoto. It is a shrine to the Shinto rice deity Inari. It is the most famous and important Inari shrine in the land.
The city of Kyoto can be said to be overflowing with "must-see" places, but this is one place almost certain to use up any superlative descriptions that you might have in your tired-out lexicon.
Tofukuji is a major Zen temple complex. In addition to many impressive buildings, Tofukuji has 4 Zen gardens located in the "hojo" or abbot's quarters.
At Tofukuji's center is there is a gorge with maple trees.
Sanjusangendo known as the "Hall of 33 Bays." The original temple was built in around 1164 and survived only about a hundred years. What you see today is a reconstruction which is still very old as it dates from the thirteenth century.
Its centrepiece is a ornate wood statue of the seated Kannon Bodhisattva. 3.3 m (11 f0 high, with 11 faces on the crown of its head and 40 arms (extravagantly known as "a thousand arms") wielding bells, wheels, and lotus flowers.
However Sanjusangendo's main wonder is its legion of 1.000 gilded Kannon images flanking the central Buddha. The identical statues were carved by the 13th-century masters Kokei, Unkei. and Tankei, with 70 assistants.
You will have found one of Japan's greatest assemblage of paintings and sculptures in the Kyoto National Museum.
Additionally you can view traditional amour and weapons from over 10 centuries of tradition. If noh theatre is your thing then the costumes and masks used in these performances will be of interest.
Most of the items (which are without-peer in Japan) on display have been gleaned from temples & palaces in Kyoto, Nara, and other important cultural centres.
If you must visit only one of the two imperial villas in Kyoto the Katsura is the ultimate "must see" in a city full of them.
Meticulously planned, Katsura is a Japanese masterpiece of residential design and garden landscaping subtlety.
Every wall in the villa's 7 pavilions is a panel that can be slide open to view the surrounding landscape, including the gardens and also the Arashiyama Hills which are found beyond them.
Exchange rate fluctuations can have a considerable impact on your trip budget. If your home currency has appreciated in value in the recent term over the currency of your destination you are likely to find the place inexpensive.
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Graphic showing average weather in Nara in Celcius and Centimeters (Change to Farenheit and Inches)
|Month||Temp °C||Rainfall Cm||Temp °F||Rainfall Inches|
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