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The Emergence of Japan as a Nation State in Nara 6-8th Century AD

    The emergence of the national Capital of Japan on the site of Nara city is documented in the excavations still underway in and around this modern bustling city of 300.000+ citizens    The bustling streets of todays city were planned and laid out 1,200 years ago and the 200,000+ citizens of Heijo Kyo (ancient Nara) persued their business and that of the Governmet of the day.  The Palace and its Soverign Emperor (Tenno) or Empress (Kogo) came to be the focus of a bustling Capital of a unified Japanese Nation. The central Ritsuryo System of government developed diplomatic and economic ties to neighbouring nations and promoted internal trade and taxes and penal laws and links to all its provinces.
    Local clan rule was gradually replaced by allegiance to the National code which offered the benefits of prestige and recognition at court to a far wider and much expanded 'aristocracy' which expanded to include not only the time honoured clans related to the rulers clan, but also the emerging 'newly rich' families whose fortunes grew from the increased trade, commerce and industrialisation that resulted from international delegations, the initiatives of the Tenno clan.
    The process of developing this nation state is documented in the history of the Asuka period under excavation in and around Nara Ken.  It truely is a remarkable story of cultural assimilation, involving migration of tens of thousands both within and from outside the borders.

        TIME LINE OF SIGNIFICANT EVENTS DURING ASUKA PERIOD (522-710)
 
No. SOVEREIGN RE- IGN
DETAILS
YEAR
29 KINMEI 539 571 King Seimei of Kudara (Paekche) introduces Buddhism to Soga 538
Global 10 year volcanic 'hidden sun' winter = "starving of cold" 540
30 BIDATSU 572 585 Married half sister Suiko. Iname Soga was grandfather of both. 572
31 YOUMEI 585 587 Umako Soga defeats Mononobe 587
32 SUSHUN 587 592 Umako completes Asuka dera Ist full scale Temple 588
        Umako orders suicide of Sushun 592
33 SUIKO 592 628 Shotoku Taishi 574-622 begins as regent 592
        Toyura Palace Royal residence Asuka 592
        12 rank official title system established 603
        Ohirada Palace Royal residence Asuka 603
        Shotoku Taishi - 17 Article Constitution - Kan'junikai 604
        Census shows 46 temples 816 monks 569 nuns 624
34 JYOMEI 629 641 Umako's son Emishi forced accessuion of Jomei 629
        First embassy to Tang China 630
        Asuka Okamoto Palace as Royal residence 630
        Tang China began hostilities v Koguryuo Japan's Ally in Korea 631
        Tanaka Palace as Royal residence Asuka 636
        Umayasaka Palace as Royal residence Asuka 640
        Kudara Palace as Royal residence Koryo Cho Nara Ken 640
35 KOUGYOKU* 642 645 Iruka Soga kills Pr Yamashiro contender for throne 643
        Asuka Itabuki Palace as Royal residence 643
36 KOUTOKU 645 654 Taika begins: Sogas defeated by Oe & Nakatoni 645
        Naniwa Nagara Toyosaki Palace as Royal residence Osaka 645
        Taika Reforms Proclaimed (12 then 19 Ranks 649) 646
        Ishikawamaro Soga suicides,Yamadadera ujidera 649
37 SAIMEI* 655 661 Asuka Okamoto Palace as Royal residence 655
        Asuka Kawara Palace as Royal residence 655
        Nochi Asuka Okamoto Palace as Royal residence 656
        Pr Arima suspected of treason, eliminated. 658
        Asakura Tachibana Palace as Royal residence Fukuoka 661
        Empress dies in Kyushu rallying troops 661
        Hakusukinoe Kudara/Japan naval defeat by Tang/Silla 663
        Omi-Otsu Palace, Shiga Ken Otsu Shi 667
38 TENJI 668 671 Pr Naka no Oe officially assumes throne 668
        Koguryo defeated by Silla/Tang alliance in Korea 668
39 KOUBAN 672 672 Jinshin revolt Pr Otomo defeated by uncle Pr Oama 672
40 TENMU 673 686 Returned to Asuka from Naniwa absent 27yrs 672
        Asuka Shima Palace as Royal residence 672
        Asuka Okamoto Palace as Royal residence 672
        Asuka Kiyomihara Palace as Royal residence 672
        Silla unifies Korea, Japan disengages 676
        Use of coins to spur economy ordered bt government 683
        Yakusa no Kabane 8 court ranks, omi & muraji down 684
        Pr Otsu 'must depart into hiding with the clouds' 686
        Asuka Kiyomihara Code ritsu/ryo criminal/admini. 689
41 JITO 690 697 Manyoshu 159/60 the sleeves.. have no time to dry 690
        Fujiwara Kyo Palace as Royal residence 694
42 MOMMU 697 707 At 14y 1st son of Genmei mother 22yo at his birth 697
        Moto Yakushuji western precinct (Daikandaiji east) 698
        First written cremation record refers to Priest Dosho 700
        Taiho Code: Emperor head of risuryo state Kokugun 701
        Mommu plans to move Capital to NW Heijyo 706
43 GENMEI 708 714 Wado Kaiho minted after Tang mist of 621 408
   { NARA     Move to HeijyoKyo Palace in spring Man'yoshu 78 710
   PERIOD }     Heijyo Kyo Palace as Royal residence 710
44 GENSHO 715 723 At 35y eldest child of Genmei mother 19 @ her birth 715
45 SHOMU 724 748 (See Nara period link for details)  
46 KOKEN 749 758    

        Kagome kagome .... the words of a childrens song from Japan that may have been used over the centuries to help the Children of the Imperial Household understand their situation.  The emperor was held like a bird in a gilded cage as the guest of the reagent of the time.  The Miya or Palace held the descendent of the Sun and whoever controlled the palace held power.  Early in the Asuka Period the Palace Cage was held by local Soga Clan leaders.   They were simple, small structures built in the clan leaders territory, a sort of a 'backyard birdcage'.  Traditionally the palace had been surrounded and supported by a group of clans historically associated with the Tenno who assisted him in the heroic age of the descent of the God's.  Shinto establised and maintained their position in the clan society and their ongoing role of service to the Heavenly Ruler.  Soga initiated the introduction of Buddism which was seen as an affront to the Shinto Kami (Gods) by the traditional clans.  The Mononobe warrior clan was eliminated by Soga for persisting in rejecting the new Religion. On its recommendation the Buddist images had been thrown into a canal.
    A clean new palace free of the Ghosts of the past or the Spirits of the dead was built for each new Soverign.  Shinto, "The Way of the Gods" or Gods' Pathway required extreme care about clean environments, not only physical but spiritual and mental as well.  In the western tradition this is expresed in the saying "Cleanliness is next to Godliness".

    Each Soverign moved into a new Palace (Miya) for physical and mental illness could be caused by dirty or cloudy spiritual surroundings.
 

587 Umako Soga defeats Mononobe
    Civil War broke out in 587 between the forces of the Soga Clan and the disenting Mononobe Clan.   A decisive victory to the forces supporting the introduction of Buddhism left Soga in control of the succession of the Emperor.
 

The following year 588 the first full scale Buddhist temple was completed.  It was originally a great temple covering an area some 200m x 200m with three golden halls clustered around a central pagoda.

663 Hakusukinoe Kudara/Japan naval defeat by Tang/Silla
On the Korean peninsula the tide of war was ebbing in favor.