Suzaku-oji Street (朱雀大路)

(Kyoto City Heiankyo Sosei-kan Museum) The Suzaku-oji Street is referred to as a government-run road in capitals of ancient East Asia under a street plan of ancient capital, which ran southward from the front of the Kyujo (place where Emperor lives) and Kanga (government office). The name comes from a tutelary deity called Suzaku (red Chinese phoenix) living in the southern regions.

Such streets, which were based on the street plans of the ancient capital, and which originated in Changan of Tang dynasty period, China, became popular in neighboring countries under the system of Sakuho System (System conferring a peerage with a Saku paper). The plan was introduced into Japan through official Japanese diplomatic delegations sent to China during the Sui and Tang dynasty and was first adopted for Fujiwarakyo Capital, which was the first city developed based on a city plan.

However, the first Suzaku-oji Street developed by then Emperor Jito was only about 2.30 meters wide due to the Emperor's incomplete understanding of the role Suzaku-oji Street was supposed to play. There was barely enough space for people to pass by and furthermore military parades and victory drives could not be carried out in front of the Emperor.

This shortcoming was corrected in subsequent Heijokyo and Heiankyo so that the street was widened to more than several tens of meters. The street running north-south started from the Capital's front gate of Rajomon Gate and finished at the front gate of Dai-dairi (place of the Imperial Palace and government offices) of Suzakumon Gate.

With the end of the Ritsuryo system (system of centralized governance) and the decline of the Imperial government, however, the district around the street began to be neglected. When the center of the city was moved to the east, Suzaku-oji Street ceased to play a role as central street.

In Dazaifu, some call the central north-south street extending from the government district Suzaku-oji Street, following the example of Heijokyo and Heiankyo.

In and after the Sung dynasty era in China, the development of the capital under the ancient capital street plan became unpopular and Suzaku-dori Street became uncommon.

[Original Japanese]