Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara
Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara
Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. During this period the framework of national government was consolidated and Nara enjoyed great prosperity, emerging as the fountainhead of Japanese culture. The city's historic monuments – Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and the excavated remains of the great Imperial Palace – provide a vivid picture of life in the Japanese capital in the 8th century, a period of profound political and cultural change.
Monuments historiques de l'ancienne Nara
Nara a été la capitale du Japon de 710 à 784. Durant cette période, la structure du gouvernement national s'est consolidée et la capitale, très prospère, est devenue la source d'inspiration de la culture japonaise. Les monuments historiques de Nara – temples bouddhiques et sanctuaires shintoïstes , ainsi que les fouilles du grand palais impérial – offrent une image frappante de ce que fut la capitale du Japon au VIIIe siècle, période de profond changement politique et culturel.
النصب التاريخيّة في نارا القديمة
كانت مدينة نارا عاصمة اليابان من العام 710 حتى العام 784. وفي خلال هذه الفترة، ثبُتَت بنية الحكومة الوطنيّة وأصبحت العاصمة التي كانت مزدهرةً جدًا في ذلك الوقت مصدر الوحي للثقافة اليابانيّة. وتدلّ الآثار التاريخيّة في نيارا من معابد بوذيّة ومزارات شنتويّة، بالاضافة إلى حفريّات القصر الامبراطوري الكبير، على الصورة المذهلة لما كانت عليه عاصمة اليابان في القرن الثامن، وهي الفترة التي شهدت التغيّر السياسي والثقافي الكبير.
Памятники исторической части города Нара
Нара была столицей Японии в 710-784 гг. В этот период произошла консолидация системы государственного управления, а Нара процветала и была источником развития японской культуры. Исторические памятники города – буддийские храмы, синтоистские святилища и раскопанные остатки большого императорского дворца - дают наглядную картину жизни японской столицы в VIII в., т.е. во времена коренных политических и культурных изменений.
Monumentos históricos de la antigua Nara
Nara fue la capital de Japón entre los años 710 y 784, época en la que la consolidación de la estructura del gobierno nacional dio una gran prosperidad a la ciudad, haciendo de ella el foco de la cultura japonesa. Sus templos budistas y santuarios sintoístas, así como los vestigios del palacio imperial, son monumentos históricos que ofrecen una vívida imagen de lo que fue la capital del Japón en el siglo VIII, un periodo de hondos cambios políticos y culturales.
Historische monumenten van oud Nara
Nara was de hoofdstad van Japan van 710 tot 784. Tijdens deze periode werd het kader van de nationale overheid geconsolideerd en kende Nara grote welvaart. De stad ontpopte zich als de bron van de Japanse cultuur. De historische monumenten die Nara bezit – Boeddhistische tempels, shinto heiligdommen en de opgegraven overblijfselen van het grote Keizerlijke paleis – geven een levendig beeld van het leven in de Japanse hoofdstad tijdens de 8e eeuw, een periode van diepgaande politieke en culturele veranderingen. De monumenten weerspiegelen ook de ontwikkeling van Japanse architectuur en kunst, als gevolg van de culturele banden met China en Korea.
Outstanding Universal Value
The Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara bear exceptional witness to the evolution of Japanese architecture and art and vividly illustrate a critical period in the cultural and political development of Japan, when Nara functioned as its capital from 710 to 784. During this period, the framework of national government was consolidated and Nara enjoyed great prosperity, emerging as the fountainhead of Japanese culture.
Located in the modern city of Nara, the property includes eight component parts composed of seventy-eight different buildings covering 617.0 ha, which is surrounded by a buffer zone (1,962.5 ha) and the “historic environment harmonization area (539.0 ha)”.
The site of Heijô-kyô was carefully selected in accordance with Chinese geomantic principles. A grand city plan, based on Chinese examples such as Chang'an, was laid out, with palaces, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, public buildings, houses, and roads on an orthogonal grid. The palace itself, located at the northern end of the central avenue, occupied 120 ha. It comprised the official buildings where political and religious ceremonies took place, notably the Daigokuden (imperial audience hall) and Chôdô-in (state halls), and the imperial residence (Dairi), together with various compounds for administrative and other purposes.
The component parts include an archaeological site (the Nara Palace Site), five Buddhist temples (the Tôdai-ji, the Kôfuku-ji, the Yakushi-ji, the Gangô-ji and the Tôshôdai-ji), a Shinto shrine (the Kasuga-Taisha) and an associative cultural landscape (the Kasugayama Primeval Forest), the natural environment which is an integral part of all Shinto shrines. Together, these places provide a vivid and comprehensive picture of religion and life in the Japanese capital in the 8th century, a period of profound political and cultural change.
Criterion (ii): The historic monuments of Ancient Nara bear exceptional witness to the evolution of Japanese architecture and art as a result of cultural links with China and Korea which were to have a profound influence on future developments.
Criterion (iii): The flowering of Japanese culture during the period when Nara was the capital is uniquely demonstrated by its architectural heritage.
Criterion (iv): The layout of the Imperial Palace and the design of the surviving monuments in Nara are outstanding examples of the architecture and planning of early Asian capital cities.
Criterion (vi): The Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines of Nara demonstrate the continuing spiritual power and influence of these religions in an exceptional manner.
Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara include the group of buildings of the Buddhist temples representing this historic city, the harmonious cultural landscape of the sacred forest and the Shinto shrine, demonstrating traditional worship in Japan, and an archaeological site. These essential component parts of the property illustrate Japanese political structure and cultural tradition in the 8th century. Each component part has an adequate buffer zone, and thus the integrity of the property is ensured in the contexts of both wholeness and intactness.
Since the World Heritage Committee expressed concern in 2003 about the negative impact on the buried cultural resources at Nara Palace Site caused by changing groundwater levels due to the Yamato-Kita Road highway construction, government intervention and monitoring has been ongoing. The State Party is currently addressing the visual impact of the planned new visitor facilities at Nara Palace site.
Restoration work on the buildings of ancient Nara began in the late 19th century after the enactment of the Ancient Shrines and Temples Preservation Law (1897). The Kasuga-Taisha Shinto shrine has maintained its tradition of routine reconstruction.
The level of authenticity of the various buildings on the property is high from the view of form and design, materials and substance, traditions and techniques, and location and setting. Japanese conservation principles have ensured that replacement of damaged or degraded architectural elements has respected the materials and techniques used by the original builders. The archaeological site of the Nara Palace Site, protected for a long period under cultivated rice fields, has also a high level of authenticity in form, materials and substance, and location and setting. Unearthed archaeological remains have been reburied for protection.
There has been some reconstruction of the gate, the study hall, and the garden at the Nara Palace Site. The continuity of traditional architecture in Japan and the substantial amount of data recovered by archaeological excavation has ensured that the reconstructed buildings have a high level of authenticity in form and design. The State Party is currently addressing how to best maintain that continuity in ongoing reconstruction work emphasizing the need for a clear rationale and justification for all interventions.
The Kasugayama Primeval Forest has been preserved as a sacred forest where no hunting or tree-felling has been permitted since 841. Thus it retains a high level of authenticity in location and setting, and spirit and feeling.
Protection and management requirements
All the component parts are designated as National Treasures, a Special Natural Monument, a Special Site, and etc. under the 1950 Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties.
The places of worship (the Buddhist temples and the Shinto shrine) are owned by their respective religious communities, and the state of conservation is strong. Nara Prefecture has the responsibility of managing and protecting the Kasugayama Primeval Forest, and the Nara Palace Site has been maintained in collaboration with the Japanese government and Nara Prefecture. In particular, the Nara Palace Site and its buffer zone have been parts of a National Government Park since 2008, and maintenance projects are continuously planed with the aim of appropriately protecting and utilizing the archaeological site.
There are clearly defined and adequate buffer zones around all the component parts. These are provided for in the 1950 Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, the Ancient Capitals Preservation Act, and various prefectural and municipal regulations.
There is no overall conservation and management plan for the property as a whole, although each component part is the object of a conservation and maintenance survey program that includes restoration activities. To ensure the long-term conservation and protection, management and conservation policies will need to be developed.
The Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara bear exceptional witness to the evolution of Japanese architecture and art as a result of cultural links with China and Korea, which were to have a profound influence on future developments. They vividly illustrate a critical period in the cultural and political development of Japan.
In 710 the capital of Japan was transferred from Fujiwara to Nara, which prospered as the political, economic and cultural centre of the country for the next 74 years, during the Nara period. The site of Heijô-kyô was carefully selected in accordance with Chinese geomantic principles. A grand city plan, based on Chinese examples such as Chang'an, was laid out, with palaces, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, public buildings, houses, and roads on an orthogonal grid. The palace itself, located at the northern end of the central avenue, occupied 120 ha. It comprised the official buildings where political and religious ceremonies took place, notably the Daigokuden (imperial audience hall) and Chôdô-in (state halls), and the imperial residence (Dairi), together with various compounds for administrative and other purposes.
In 784 the imperial capital moved to Nagaoka for nine years, and then to Kyoto (Heian), where it was to remain until 1184. The abandoned Nara capital became paddy fields. However, most of the temples and shrines survived intact; they maintained their high status and imperial patronage. A new town developed around them known as Nanto (South Capital). The temple area around Tôdai-ji, Kôfuku-ji, Gangô-ji and Kasuga-Taisha was particularly prosperous, and it was here that the modern city developed in the 16th century.
The Tôdai-ji consists of a group of buildings. The Kondô (Great Buddha Hall) houses the seated image of the Vairocana (Great) Buddha. It is a monumental seven-bay wooden structure, and the bronze statue is some 15 m high. The Kôfuku-ji, erected in Fujiwara, was rebuilt in Nara when the capital moved there in 710. The Gangô-ji was the first Buddhist temple in Japan, built by Soga-no-Umako in the 6th century and originally known as Asuka-dera. It was transferred from Asuka in 718 when the capital moved to Nara. Much of it was destroyed by fire in 1451.
The Tôshôdai-ji, originally built by the Chinese high priest Jian Zhen (Ganjin) in 759 for students of Buddhism, is unusual in having suffered very little from fire or other forms of disaster. Its main features are the Kondô (main hall, the only extant example built in the Nara period and very important in the study of Japanese temple architecture), Kôdô (lecture hall, originally a state assembly hall in the Nara Palace and the only surviving example of the architecture of the palace), Korô (sutra repository), and Hôzô and Kyôzô (two Nara repositories in 'log-house' style).
The Kasuga-Taisha: according to legend the Kasuga-Taisha (Kasuga Great Shrine) was founded in 768, but its origins are believed to go back to the beginning of the Nara period. It is located at the foot of two sacred mountains: Kasugayama and Mikasayama. The buildings of Kasuga-Taisha have been restored and reconstructed on many occasions following decay and destruction. The buildings are all within the shrine precinct and, according to tradition, are roofed with cypress-bark shingles, so as to harmonize with their natural environment.
The Kasugayama Primeval Forest: the natural environment is an integral element of all Shinto shrines. In the case of Kasuga-Taisha this is provided by Kasugayama, which has been preserved as a sacred forest. There is no form of human intervention beyond the provision of footpaths for worshippers and pilgrims.
The Nara Palace site contains all the elements necessary to meet the official and private requirements of the imperial family. These included the Daigokuden (imperial audience hall), Chôdô-in (state halls), Dairi (imperial residence), offices, workshops, stores, stables, etc. The compound was enclosed by earthen ramparts (Tsuji-ogaki) some 5 m high and crossed by 12 gates. The main entrance was the Suzaku Gate in the middle of the south wall, giving access to the Daigokuden and Chôdô-in, the most important buildings in the imperial complex, used for political ceremonies and banquets.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
In 710 the capital of Japan was transferred by Empress Gemmei from Fujiwara to Nara, which prospered as the political, economic, and cultural centre of the country for the next 74 years, during what is known as the Nara Period. The site of Heijô-kyô was carefully selected in accordance with the Chinese geomantic principles governing the location of an imperial palace. A grand city plan, based on Chinese examples such as Chang'an, was laid out, with palaces, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, public buildings, houses, and roads on an orthogonal grid. It covered an area of 2500ha, and its population is estimated to have been around 100,000.
The palace itself, located at the northern end of the central avenue, occupied 120ha. It comprised the official buildings where political and religious ceremonies took place, notably the Daigokuden (imperial audience hall) and Chôdô-in (state halls), and the imperial residence (Dairi), together with various compounds for administrative and other purposes.
During this period an integrated imperial policy for the promotion of Buddhism was developed and applied from Nara. Emperor Shômu ordered temples and convents to be built in all the provinces, and built Tôdai-ji in 745 as the central provincial temple in Japan.
In 784 the imperial capital moved to Nagaoka for a mere nine years, and then to Kyoto (Heian), where it was to remain until 1184. The site of the abandoned Nara capital became paddy fields.. However, most of the temples and shrines survived intact; they maintained their high status and imperial patronage. As a result a new town developed around them which became known as Nanto (South Capital). The temple area around Tôdai-ji, Kôfuku-ji, Gangô-ji, and Kasuga- Taisha was particularly prosperous, and it was here that the modern city of Nara was to develop in the 16th century.
In 1180, however, Tôdai-ji and Kôfuku-ji were burnt to the ground in a period of internal strife. They were to be rebuilt soon afterwards, at the beginning of the Kamakura Shogunate (1185). Whilst Kôfuku-ji adopted the traditional Japanese Wayô style, however, Tôkai-ji was to be rebuilt in the Daibutsuyô (Great Buddha) style, introduced from Sung Dynasty China.
The Nara temples were to lose their prestige in the Muromachi Period (1333-1572). They suffered grievously from damage by fire: at Tôdai-ji, for example, the Tôtô (east pagoda), Kôdô (lecture hall), Sôbô (priests' living quarters), Kondô (Great Buddha Hall), Chûmon (middle gate), and Kairô (cloister) were all destroyed in different periods of unrest. Some buildings were reconstructed during the early Edo Period (1615-1867), with the assistance of the Shogunate. Although the Kondô was reduced to twothirds of its original floor area, it is still the largest extant wooden structure in the world.Source: Advisory Body Evaluation
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