Asuka-kyo (the Capital of Asuka) (飛鳥京)

Asuka-kyo (also known as Asuka no Miyako [the capital of Asuka]) is the name of the ancient capital mainly in the Asuka period, which is believed to be existed in the general area covering present-day Asuka Village, Takaichi County, Nara Prefecture.


For the most part of the Asuka period, the emperor (or okimi [great king]) of Yamato sovereignty (the ancient Japan sovereignty) had a palace in the area, that is, Asuka-kyo was what is now called the capital of Japan. Therefore, the word "kyo" (capital) is included in the name Asuka-kyo.

Unlike later Fujiwara-kyo (the Imperial capital of Japan for 16 years between 694 and 710; or Heijo-kyo [the ancient capital of Japan in current Nara]), it is agreed that Asuka-kyo didn't have an overall city plan, in addition, the result of archaeological studies such as the data collected in excavation is not yet enough to form a comprehensive view of the Asuka-kyo. Therefore, what 'Asuka-kyo' actually refers to, including the geographical area, is not strictly defined. Maybe because of the ambiguity of the term, the name 'Asuka-kyo' is not always used to mean the Asuka area in the Asuka period in historical and archaeological contexts. In this regard, it is not like other places with names ending with 'kyo' established in and after Fujiwara-kyo. The expression for the city of Asuka using the character '京' (kyo) did not create in recent years, but found in "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) such as '倭京' (literally, Japanese capital) and '古京' (literally, ancient capital).


It requires attention that the ruins found in Asuka Village called the site of Asuka-kyo is not literally considered as the ruin of the Asuka-kyo. There are many ruins thought to be parts of the Asuka-kyo in Asuka Village. Among them, there are ruins derived from their names from the names of sites' locations (large or small administrative units of villages) such as Shimasho Site, Ishigami Site, and Mizuochi Site, those from the references to their geographical locations such as Ikazuchi no Oka Toho Site and Amakashi no Oka Toroku Site, those from the architectural structures on their sites such as Kawahara-dera Temple Site and Asuka-dera Temple Site, and those from functions or forms of their ancient structural remnants such as Asukaike Ruins and Asukakyo-ato Enchi Site. It seems no special rules are found for naming these sites.

[Original Japanese]