Nara Period


The Nara Period (Nara Jidai) of ancient Japan (710-794 CE), so called because for most of that time the capital was located at Nara, then known as Heijokyo, was a short period of transition prior to the significant Heian Period. Despite the period's brevity it still managed to produce arguably the most famous works of Japanese literature ever written and some of the most important temples still in use today including at Todaiji, the largest wooden building in the world at that time, which still houses the largest bronze statue of Buddha ever made.

More about: Nara Period


  • 707 - 715
    Reign of Empress Gemmei in Japan.
  • 710
    The Buddhist Kofukuji temple is established at Nara, main temple of the Japanese Fujiwara clan.
  • 710 - 784
    Nara is the capital of ancient Japan.
  • 710
    Date favoured by historians for the founding of the Kasuga Taisha Shinto shrine at Nara, Japan.
  • 710 - 794
    The Nara Period in ancient Japan.
  • 710
    The Japanese capital is moved from Fujiwara-kyo to Nara (aka Heijokyo).
  • 711
    The Fushimi Inari shrine, dedicated to the Shinto rice god Inari, is founded near Kyoto.
  • 712
    The Kojiki is written, a collection of oral myths forming the basis of the Shinto religion.
  • 713
    The Japanese Fudoki are composed and record local kami and associated legends.
  • 715 - 724
    Reign of Empress Gensho in Japan.
  • 718
    Yakushiji temple is relocated from Fujiwara-kyo to Nara.
  • 720
    The Nihon Shoki is written, a collection of oral myths forming the basis of the Shinto religion.
  • 724 - 749
    Reign of Emperor Shomu in Japan.
  • 735 - 737
    Japan suffers two smallpox epidemics which kills 25-35% of the population.
  • 740
    A rebellion led by the Fujiwara exile Hirotsugu is quashed by Emperor Shomu.
  • 747
    A statue of Hachiman is ceremoniously transferred from the Shinto Usa shrine to the Buddhist Todaiji shrine in Nara, Japan.
  • 749 - 758
    First reign of Empress Koken in Japan.
  • 751
    The Kaifuso anthology of Japanese poems is compiled.
  • 752
    The Buddhist Todaiji temple is founded at Nara, Japan.
  • 758 - 764
    Reign of emperor Junnin in Japan.
  • c. 759
    The Manyoshu or 'Collection of 10,000 Leaves' is written, an important Shinto source and classic of Japanese poetry.
  • 764 - 770
    Second reign of Empress Koken, now known as Shotoku, in Japan.
  • 768
    Official founding date of the Kasuga Taisha Shinto shrine at Nara, Japan.
  • 770 - 781
    Reign of Emperor Konin in Japan.
  • 781 - 806
    Reign of Emperor Kammu in Japan.
  • 785
    Saicho establishes the first Buddhist shrine at what would become the Enryakuji temple complex on Mt. Hiei, Japan.
  • 794
    Emperor Kammu moves the Japanese capital to Heiankyo (Kyoto).