Heijo-kyu Palace (平城宮)

Heijo-kyu Palace was Dai-dairi (the place of the Imperial Palace and government offices) of an ancient capital Heijo-kyo in Nara. In December, 1998, Heijo-kyu Palace was registered as one of the World Heritage under the name of '{Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara}' together with Todai-ji Temple (the first registered ancient remains in Japan).


Heijo-kyu Palace was situated at the north end of Heijo-kyo, consisting of Dairi (Imperial Palace), Chodo-in where ceremonies were performed, and offices where officials carried out their work, covering an area of about 120 ha.

The Palace was surrounded by big tsujibei (a mud wall with a roof) about five meters high, and the wall had twelve gates named after local ruling families names such as Suzaku-mon Gate, and government officials entered the Palace through the gates.

At the east end, Toin Teien Gargen was situated, where parties and events were held.

Toin Teien Garden is regarded as a prototype of today's Japanese gardens.

After the transfer of national capital to the city of Heian-kyo in 794, the place was abandoned and used as agricultural land.

In 1852, a government official at the magistrate's office Sadamasa KITAURA estimated the site of Heijo-kyo by drawing "Heijokyu daidairi ato tsubowari no zu" (Heijo-kyu Palace Dai-dairi site zoning map).

During the Meiji period, an architectural historian Tadashi SEKINO discovered a grassy mound in the rice paddies to be a stylobate for Daigokuden (the Imperial Audience Hall) (latter), and published "Heijo-kyo oyobi dai-dairi ko" (A Study of Heijo-kyo and Dai-dairi) in Nara Newspaper in 1907. This study article brought a movement of preserving the Heijo-kyu Palace Site that was mainly directed by Kajuro TANADA, Bunshiro MIZOBE, and others. In 1921, the central part of the Heijo-kyu Palace Site was purchased by private donations and entrusted to the government. After that, in 1922, "Heijo-kyu shi" (平城宮址, meaning the Heijo-kyu Palace Site) was designated as a national historic site (later a special historic site). In 1960s, two national preservation movements arose against the private railway company's train inspection garage problem and also the national route construction problem. At present, the almost original Heijo-kyu Palace Site is specified and being preserved.

Later, the name of the Site was changed to "Heijo-kyu seki" (平城宮跡) since the character "址" ('shi' or 'ato') in "Heijo-kyu shi" (平城宮址) was out of kanji for common use (a list of 1945 kanji established in 1981).

The Kodo Hall of Toshodai-ji Temple (a National Treasure) is the Higashi Choshuden (government workers' building), one of the relocated buildings from Chodo-in in Heijo-kyu Palace. Some parts have been rebuilt in the style of the Kamakura period as changed from the Kirizuma-zukuri style (a style of building with a gable roof) to the Irimoya style (a style of building with a half-hipped roof), but the building is still precious as the only ancient structural remnants of Heijo-kyu Palace.

Maintenance project

Maintenance of the remains and restoration of the buildings are in progress based on 'Tokubetsu shiseki heijokyuseki hozon seibi kihon koso' (Special Historic Site Heijo-kyu Site Preservation and Maintenance Project) settled by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Already restored are Suzaku-mon Gate (construction completed in 1998), the district of Kunaisho (Ministry of the Sovereign's Household), and the district of Toin Teien Garden, and Daigokuden (former), which is the most important building, is now being restored for completion in 2010.

Also, Kintetsu Nara Line and Tanida Nara Line of the Nara Prefectural Route 104 (Ichijo-oji Street), both of which pass across the Site, are being examined for relocation. Kintetsu Nara Line, however, could be an underground line, involving Yamato-Saidaiji Station and Shin-Omiya Station.

Besides, to the southwest of the Suzaku-mon Gate within the maintenance project area, Sekisui Chemical Company Nara Plant is situated. Since part of its premises is on the Suzaku-oji Street Site, Nara City spent about 2.4 billion yen to secure a relocation site, but in January, 2000, Sekisui Chemical suggested abandoning the relocation plan due to a decrease in its profit, whose decision was finalized in February, 2001.

The relocation plan has been recently revitalized again, but not embodied yet.

Heijo-kyu Place Site facilities

Suzaku-mon Gate: Suzaku-mon Gate restored

Suzaku-oji Street open space
Kajuro TANADA bronze statue
Hyobusho (the Ministry of Military) and Shikibu-sho (the Ministry of Ceremonial): The stylobates and foundation stones are restored.

The Heijo Palace Site Museum: A model of the Heijo-kyu Palace Site, a model of Daigokuden-in (complex of Imperial Audience Hall), etc.

The Former Imperial Audience Hall: Under restoration

The Latter Imperial Audience Hall: The stylobates restored

The Excavation Site Exhibition Hall: Built on the excavated remains and open for visitors

Kunaisho: Buildings and tsuijibei wall are restored.

Toin Teien Garden: The garden and a tower are restored.

[Original Japanese]