Heijo-kyu (Remains of the Ancient Capital)
Evoking the boundless romance of Japan's ancient capital
Alongside Kyoto, Nara is one of Japan's top cities for history-focused tourism, redolent of Japan's ancient history. In 710, about 1,300 years ago, the capital was moved here and it developed as the political and cultural heart of Japan. This period is called the Nara period (710-794), and the name of the capital was Heijo-kyo.
Heijo-kyu is said to have been modeled on Chang'an, which was the most prosperous city in China at that time, and covered a vast area totaling 2,500 hectares, measuring 5.9km east to west, and 4.8km north to south. The main street, Suzaku Avenue, stretched out long and straight, running from the Heijo Palace in the north to the Suzakumon Gate, which was the southern entrance to the capital, with roads running off the avenue to the left and right in a grid pattern.
The place where Heijo-kyo once stood has been registered as a World Heritage Site, as one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara, and excavation surveys are gradually progressing. Naturally, you are free to wander around the site. At first glance, it looks like no more than a big field, but the Suzakumon Gate and palace garden have been reconstructed based on the findings of the excavations conducted so far, so it attracts many sightseers. In 2010, to commemorate the 1,300th anniversary of the transfer of the capital to Heijo-kyo, a variety of events and festivals took place.
In one corner of the site you can find the Heijo-kyu History Museum, the Heijo Palace Site Museum, and the Excavation Site Exhibition Hall, which will undoubtedly stimulate the intellectual curiosity of those who want to learn more about its history and those who want to conjure up its atmosphere.
Address: 4 Nijo-oji-Minam, Nara City, Nara
Phone: 0742-35-8201 (HEIJO-KYO Historical Museum)
Directions: (Train)15 minutes on foot from Yamato-Saidaiji Station on the Kintetsu-Nara Line (1 hour from Shin-Osaka Station).