Asuka, Yamato

Asuka, Yamato

nihongo|Asuka|飛鳥 was one of the Imperial capitals of Japan during the Asuka period (538 A.D. - 710 A.D.), which takes its name from this place. It is located in the present-day village of Asuka, Nara Prefecture.

There are multiple theories as to how the place in turn was given its name, including the ideas that it was named after the bird Common Crossbill, or "isuka" in Japanese, or after the landform, eg. 洲処 ("suka", meaning sandbar, sandbank or delta) or 崩地 ("asu") + 処 ("ka") and others. [Ikeda Suenori 池田末則, Yokota Kenichi 横田健一 et al. "飛鳥 (Asuka)" "Nara-ken no chimei" 奈良県の地名 Heibonsha 平凡社, 1981. p. 263] However, it may well have been named in honour of Asuka (or Ashuku) Nyorai, the Japanese equivalent of Akshobhya, one of the Five Buddhas of Wisdom, who is still worshipped in Asuka-dera (Asuka Temple), the Asuka-niimasu-jinja (shrine for his manifestation as a Shinto god), and several other structures from those days. Fact|date=March 2007 Their ruins remain, while archaeology projects continue to uncover relics from the past. Recent discoveries in the area include Wado coins, believed to be some of the oldest coins in Japan, and paintings in the Kitora tombs.

The Ishibutai Kofun is located in Asuka. On March 12, 2004, the discovery of the remains of the main building of a residence was announced. Because the building was adjacent to the kofun, it is likely that the residence belonged to Soga no Umako, who is believed to have been entombed in the kofun.

Asuka can be reached from either Okadera station or Asuka station on the Kintetsu train line, or by car on Route 169.

Imperial Palaces

When Asuka was an imperial capital, various palaces were constructed for each monarch. As soon as one emperor died, the whole court vacated the palace and moved to a newly constructed one, since it was considered dangerous to reside in the same place where a deceased monarch's spirit might reside. Sometimes even during one emperor's reign palaces were changed multiple times due to destruction by fire or other ill omens. Since these palaces were entirely constructed from wood, none of them has survived, although some archaeological work in modern times has uncovered such remains as stone bases for pillars.

* Toyura Palace (592-603) rededicated as nunnery "Toyura-dera"
* Oharida Palace (603-630)
* Okamoto Palace (630-636)
* Tanaka Palace (636- 640)
* Umayasaka Palace (640)

The court briefly moved to the Kudara Palace (640-642) in Kōryō, Nara.

* Itabuki Palace (643-645)

The court moved to the Nagara-Toyosaki Palace (645-654) in Naniwa-kyō.

* Itabuki Palace (654-655)
* Kawara Palace (655-656)
* Later Okamoto Palace (656-661)

The court moved to the Tachibana no Hironiwa Palace (661–667) in Asakura, Fukuoka. It moved again to the Ōmi Palace or Ōtsu Palace (667–672) in Ōmi-kyō (today Ōtsu, Shiga).

* Shima Palace (672)
* Okamoto Palace (672)
* Kiyomihara Palace (672-694)

The capital was then finally abandoned by Empress Jitō for Fujiwara-kyō.


See also

* Asuka, Nara
* capital of Japan

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