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The Capital at Nara

Robert Oxnam :: In 710 the Japanese established their first capital at Nara, moving it to Heian (now Kyoto) in 794. So historians speak of two great Classical periods, the "Nara Period" and the "Heian Period."

Donald Keene :: The Japanese had, previous to the great influence of Chinese culture, they probably lived in small towns, villages. And it was only with the introduction of Chinese culture, especially Buddhism, that the Japanese were induced to build a permanent capital, not a capital that shifted with each new reign.

Robert Oxnam :: The new capital at Nara was planned as a perfect square, facing exactly south, just on the model of the Chinese Tang Dynasty capital at Changan (which is Xian today). Not only did the Japanese import Chinese forms of capital design — majestic cities on a north-south axis — but also great temples as well.

The Horyu-ji temple, founded in the seventh century, is an example of great Japanese architecture. The original inspiration, however, came from China and Korea.