Nara to celebrate1300th anniversary in 2010

In 2010, Nara will celebrate the 1300th anniversary of the establishment of the Heijo capital (Heijo-kyo) in Nara. To mark this important milestone, the city is planning many events and special projects around the three main themes of heritage, culture and international exchange.

Nara's History in the Spotlight

From 710AD to 794AD, Nara was the imperial capital of Japan and a cosmopolitan centre. Foreign diplomats and traders from China, Korea and even further afield were a source of new ideas, technology and trends. The assimilation of these foreign elements led to important developments in Japanese culture and governance. The first histories of Japan were written in this period, helping to cement a Japanese identity. The imperial house implemented a governmental system based on Confucian values, adapted from China’s Chang’an court. Unique Japanese art forms, including poetry and theatre also flourished in Heijo-kyo. The anniversary project thus looks back to Heijo-kyo as the birthplace of Japanese culture and identity.

artist's impression of 1300th anniversary celebrations

Imperial Palace Replica under Construction

The centrepiece of the anniversary celebrations will be the opening of the Heijo-kyo palace hall, on the grounds of the ancient imperial complex. The reconstructed palace will become the venue for traditional plays and performances showcasing ancient Nara’s history and culture. The palace will also be the starting point for the Nara Heijo-kyo parade, a theatrical procession that will travel all the way to Todaiji temple, illustrating the history of Nara.

International Focus for Celebrations

Other major public works for the anniversary include the redevelopment of the imperial avenue, the old road that served as the entryway to the palace complex. This area is to become a cosmopolitan hub, where museums, galleries and monuments will be venues for international exchanges of history and culture. Further events set to occur in the anniversary year include an international art exhibition, a historical film festival and forums that seek to discuss the development of both Japanese and foreign cultures.