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The Heian Capital

 

Emperor Kanmu (r. 781-806) established his new capital on the site of modern Kyoto in the year 794. Although he officially named it Heian-kyō (Capital of Peace and Tranquility), the most popular term for it in the centuries that followed was simply "the Capital" (Miyako). As the second volume of The Cambridge History of Japan is at pains to emphasize (see Chapter 2), plans and maps of the city in the early Heian period date back only to the 12th or 13th centuries, so that reliability is an issue when describing (or illustrating) the capital's appearance in the 9th and 10th centuries, especially with regard to particular features. With allowance for possible discrepancies, however, the diagrams below can be considered reasonably accurate.

The Heian capital measured 1,753 (about 5,240 meters) north to south and 1,508 (about 4,510 meters) east to west. Detailed maps in Japanese list the names of all 39 avenues (ōji) and streets (kōji) running east to west and the 33 avenues and streets running north to south. Suzaku Avenue, the central north-south thoroughfare, was about 84 meters wide; Nijō Avenue was about 52 meters wide. Other avenues were between 24 and 36 meters in width, and streets were 12 meters wide.

For the Greater Imperial Palace, or Daidairi, it is important to remember that the blocks represent gated compounds rather than buildings, and that these compounds enclosed buildings and open spaces. The Great Hall of State, for example, was a structure more than 50 meters wide that stood at the northern end of the Court of Government and was approached through two independent gates. Until 1177, when it was destroyed by fire, this building was where the emperor conducted affairs of state. English names here are taken almost entirely from Volume 2 of The Cambridge History of Japan (p. 110). Transliterations, however, follow Japanese sources (Dantenmon, for instance, is also called Dattemon or Datemon, which are now considered variants; the reading "Chūwain" given in the Cambridge History for "中和院" has been replaced by the correct "Chūkain"). ln addition, some locations differ slightly from those found in the Cambridge volume. Space prevents the listing of names for a number of minor offices; those names can be found in Japanese sources. Again, uniform agreement regarding layout details and pronunciation should not be taken for granted.

The Emperor's Residential Compound, or Dairi, contained the living quarters of the Emperor and his consorts, along with various supporting structures and offices. Some functions of state were also conducted here, especially after the destruction by fire of the Great Hall of State in 1177.

Key (the sites are not necessarily concurrent historically)

  1. Udain: Supposedly the residence of Emperor Kōkō (r. 884-887) while an imperial prince; it is possible that Emperor Uda (r. 887-897) was raised here, causing his name to be associated with the site.
  2. Ichijōin: Emperor Ichijō (r. 986-1011) used this residence as his temporary palace (satodairi) when the Imperial Residence Compound burned down in 999. This is the palace referred to in The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu.
  3. Tsuchimikadodono (Kyōgokudono): The principal residence of Fujiwara no Michinaga (966-1027), who symbolized the power of the Fujiwara clan at its peak. According to The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu, this is where Empress Shōshi -- Michinaga's eldest daughter and consort to Emperor Ichijō -- gave birth to the future Emperor Go-Ichijō.
  4. Kaya no In: The residence of Fujiwara no Yorimichi (992-1074), eldest son of Fujiwara ni Michinaga. Yorimichi built the Byōdōin in Uji in 1052.
  5. Reizeiin: The detached palace used by Retired Emperor Saga (r. 809-823).
  6. Daigakuryō (Fun'ya no Tsukasa): The school attended by sons of the aristocracy destined for careers in the Confucian-oriented bureacracy.
  7. Shinsen'en: Garden park reserved for the pleasure of the imperial family. Much of the original site is now occupied by Nijō Castle.
  8. Nijōtei / Nijōnomiya: Nijōtei, on the north, was the residence of Fujiwara no Korechika (974-1010); Nijōnomiya, on the south, was the residence of Empress Teishi (976-1000), consort to Emperor Ichijō. Sei Shōnagon, author of The Pillow Book, served Empress Teishi.
  9. Junnain: Originally the detached palace of Emperor Junna (r. 823-833); made into a temple in 879.
  10. Suzakuin: The principal detached palace in the western half of the Heian capital, used from the reign of Emperor Saga (r. 809-823).
  11. Kawara no In: The residence of Minamoto no Tōru (822-895), said to have been one of the models for Hikaru Genji. The residence itself was supposedly the model for Genji's Rokujōin in The Tale of Genji.
  12. Nishi no Ichi: The West Market, one of two markets established along the central Suzaku Avenue.
  13. Higashi no Ichi: The East Market, one of two markets established along the central Suzaku Avenue.
  14. Saiji: The West Temple, one of two temples built near the Rajōmon gate at the southern boundary of the city.
  15. Tōji: The East Temple, one of two temples built near the Rajōmon gate at the southern boundary of the city.

This map is a heavily edited adaptation of the layout diagram uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Sakumiya Kaoru and is subject to the same Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Colors have all been modified and at least one correction to the basic grid has been made (involving the location of the Kawara no In). The version here should be credited to Jlit.net.  Sakumiya's diagram is said to be based on Kokushi daijiten (Dictionary of Japanese History), published by Yoshikawa Kōbunkan.

It has been suggested that the open Banquet Pine Grove to the west of the Emperor's Residential Compound was intended to serve as an alternate building site for the compound, so that like Ise Shrine it could be rebuilt at regular intervals.

The above image should be credited to Jlit.net.

 

The above image should be credited to Jlit.net.