Recreating Japan's former capital27 October, 2011 by Chad
The Heijo Palace is the site of the imperial throne back when Nara was the capital city in the 8th century. The original castle had been long destroyed. But recent efforts by the local government have been made to restored the site to its former glory.
The main building (pictured here) was completed and unveiled last year, as part of it’s 1300th year anniversary. The landmark is open to the public for free, for those interested in experiencing this bit of Nara’s cultural history.
Nara’s Heijo Palace (平城宮) is located just a short distance from Yamato Saidaiji Station. The palace stands out greatly in this suburban area filled with unremarkable small homes.
Land is abundant here with vast stretches of highway alongside seemingly unoccupied fields. Unlike more contemporary Japanese castles, it features many Chinese influence such as large assembly courtyards in front of the main building. The castle takes up a particularly large plot, only a small part of which was captured on film here. The rest of it was still under construction.
There are also areas nearby that are occupied by the building where archeological and restoration work continue to be held. The sheer amount of space surrounding the already large castle does add to the impressiveness of the Heijo Palace.
As mentioned above, entry to the building is free. It is run by the National Cultural Organization of Nara and the upkeep, staffing and continual restoration of the complex is paid for by the local municipal government.
The first Daigokuden (main building featured) and gate have been restored. The front courtyard also seems to have been completed since our visit. Work on the other buildings, gardens and structures are still ongoing.
Inside, you’ll find exhibits dedicated to the history of the building as well as the progress of its reconstruction. It is quite inspiring to know that the large wooden structure is being painstakingly created by hand by master artisans of today.
Objects recovered from the digs of the original site are also shown. To live up to the palace’s original purpose, a recreation of the Chrysanthemum throne sits at the center of the room.
While there are other more impressive visits in Nara like the Todaiji Temple that must not be missed. If you’ve got an hour to spare in this quiet city, the Heijo Palace is one place to consider dropping by.