20.3.17

The Former Site of Heijo-kyu Imperial Palace


SUZAKUMON DAIGOKUDEN
The Suzaku Gate (SUZAKUMON) The Former Audience Hall (DAIGOKUDEN)

NARA was the capital of Japan known as Hijo-kyo during the Nara period(710-794). The Heijo Palace served as the site of the emperor's residence and government offices. There were 2 large buildings called "the Former Audience Hall" and "the Latter Audience Hall" and 12 gates in the site that extended about one kilometer wide and one kilometer long. These audience halls were used as the site of important ceremonies and meetings.

Three major structures of the former palace complex have been reconstructed in recent decades. The Former Audience Hall (DAIGOKUDEN) was reconstructed for the occasion of the 1300th anniversary of Nara Capital and opened to the public in April 2010. Its ceiling is decorated by the four animals of the direction on the compass and the twelve animals of the lunar calendar. The latter audience hall's foundations are visible to the east of the former audience hall.

Two more full-scale reconstructions are the Suzaku Gate (SUZAKUMON), the main gate of the palace to the south, and the East Palace Garden (TOIN TEIEN), which features a pond, streams and bridges, and was used by the imperial family for banquets. Also the offices of the Imperial Household Agency (KUNAICHO) were partially reconstructed.

Visitors to Heijo Palace nowadays will still find a rural atmosphere, but the government has gone to considerable lengths to showcase the history of Heijo Palace for visitors with historic reconstructions and museums.

For its great historical and cultural importance, the palace site is included as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Nara.