NARA LIFE

MOKKAN


Mokkan

Mokkan are wooden documents from the Asuka and Nara Periods. They came in several types, including documents, labels for goods in transport, notepads, and tallies for other classification purposes. The oldest mokkan date from mid-7th century and the dates of the artefacts continue through the 8th century.

Aileen Kawagoe wrote in Heritage of Japan: They were used as charms, as scroll tags, for calligraphy or for jotting notes. But mostly, mokkan are associated with uses as labels on tax goods; record-keeping or directives dealing with the movement of goods and people within the palace precincts, requests for commodities, summonses, permits, etc. In other words, they were important tools for administrative, logistics and mercantile and trade purposes. Mokkan had their beginnings in the invention of bamboo slips of the Shang dynasty in China. The mokkan were used to denote appointments or ritual promises and the writing held the power of a sacred oath and sanctified the appointments. The mokkan were then placed on ancestral altars or sunk in rivers.[Source: Heritage Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com <^>]

Mokkan provide important new materials for learning about the culture, finances, organization of government offices and overall administrative system of the time. For example, while it had been known that Japan in the Nara Period was divided into sixty-odd units known as kuni and each of these kuni was divided into several kori, it had not been known when the Chinese character that, during the Nara period, was used to represent kori, first came into use. Through an examination of recently excavated mokkan, it has been established that previous to the Taiho legal code (702),the word kori was written with a different character. [Source: Asuka Historical Museum asukanet.gr.jp ^*^]

More than 100,000 mokkan have been uncovered from around 300 sites in Japan, including the palaces at Heiankyo, Fujiwara-kyo, Naniwakyo, Asuka Kiyomihara no miya and Nagaokakyo, as well as at the remote military outposts of Dazaifu and Tagajo. The largest finds were the 30,000 mokkan unearthed from the ruins of the residence of Prince Nagaya (676, 684-729).

Good Websites on Nara- and Heian-Period Japan: Essay on Nara and Heian Periods aboutjapan.japansociety.org ; Ancient Japan Links on Archeolink archaeolink.com ; Wikipedia article on the Nara Period Wikipedia ; Wikipedia article on the Heian Period Wikipedia ; Essay on the Japanese Missions to Tang China aboutjapan.japansociety.org ; Kusado Sengen, Excavated Medieval Town mars.dti.ne.jp ; Kojiki, Nihongi and Sacred Shinto Texts sacred-texts.com ; Good Photos of Yamato, Nara and Heian Sites at Japan-Photo Archive japan-photo.de ; List of Emperors of Japan friesian.com ;

Nara Nara Prefecture site pref.nara.jp ;Nara City site narashikanko.jp Temples and Shrines in Nara Park Kofukuji site kohfukuji.com ; Yamasa yamasa.org ; UNESCO World Heritage site: UNESCO website; Kasuga Taisha Shrine (in Nara Park) Wikipedia Wikipedia ; Japan Guide japan-guide.com ; UNESCO World Heritage site: UNESCO website Todaiji Temple Wikipedia Wikipedia UNESCO World Heritage site: UNESCO website Toshodaiji Japan Guide japan-guide.com UNESCO World Heritage site: UNESCO website Shosoin Treasury Repository and Nara Museum aris.ss.uci.edu

Mt. Hiei and Enryaku-ji Temple Websites: Enryaku-ji Temple official site hieizan.or.jp; Photos taleofgenji.org ; Marathon monks Lehigh.edu ; Tale of Genji Sites: The Tale of Genji.org (Good Site) taleofgenji.org ; Murasaki Shikibu Biography womeninworldhistory.com ; Tale of Genji Links meijigakuin.ac.jp ; Nara and Heian Art Sites at the Metropolitan Museum in New York metmuseum.org ; Heian Art at the British Museum britishmuseum.org ; Nara Art at the Tokyo National Museum www.tnm.jp/en
Asuka Wikipedia article on Asuka Wikipedia ; Asuka Park asuka-park.go.jp ; Asuka Historical Museum asukanet.gr.jp ; UNESCO World Heritage sites ; Map: Asuka Park asuka-park.go.jp ; Getting There: Asuka is accessible from Nara, Kyoto and Osaka by train.

Good Early Japanese History Websites: Aileen Kawagoe, Heritage of Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com; Essay on Early Japan aboutjapan.japansociety.org ; Japanese Archeology www.t-net.ne.jp/~keally/index.htm ; Ancient Japan Links on Archeolink archaeolink.com ;Essay on Rice and History aboutjapan.japansociety.org

Mokkan with Ancient Japanese Arithmetic


special ink for wooden slips

In 2010 researchers in Nara announced they found a mokkan bearing multiplication sums that are believed to date back to the late Nara Period (710-784). The Mainichi Shimbun reported: “The tablet, whose discovery was reported in a publication of the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, was among those unearthed in 2008 in an administrative district at the site of the remains of the Heijo Palace in Nara. It is believed that the “mokkan,” was used by an official for times table practice. “The characters are not that tidy, and it was probably used by a lower-ranked official to diligently study the multiplication table,” said institute official Akihiro Watanabe. “In the area there is a mixture of wooden tablets bearing the names of high-ranking officials in beautiful block script characters and tablets bearing poorly written characters, which is interesting.” [Source: Mainichi Shimbun, December 6, 2010 ~]

“The tablet measures 16.3 centimeters long and 1.5 centimeters wide. On one side it bears part of the sum of “3×9=27,” together with the sums “2×9=18” and “1×9=9.” On the reverse side are “5×8=40,” “4×8=32,” and part of the sum “3×8=24.” A large number of wooden tablets were found in the area in a hole measuring about 6 meters in diameter that had been used to discard waste. Some of them bore the era name “Hoki,” corresponding to the years between 770 and 781, and it is believed that they were discarded toward the end of the Nara Period. ~

“The rhythmic memorization method of the 9×9 times table is believed to have originated during China’s Spring and Autumn Period between 770 B.C. and 403 B.C. It appeared in Japan in a textbook for children titled “Kuchizusami,” written during the Heian Period in 970. About 30 examples of such wooden tablets have been discovered across Japan, including early 9th century specimens unearthed at the Nyogamori archaeological site in Toyooka, Hyogo Prefecture.” ~

Development of the Japanese Calendar

Japan’s first calendar came from China via Korea. It was a lunisolar calendrical system similar to the Chinese Xuanmingli system that was in use in China until the Jiutangshu. In the middle of the 6th century, the Yamato Imperial Court, which ruled Japan at the time, invited a priest from Paekche (Kudara in Japanese), to learn from him how to draw up a calendar, as well as astronomy and geography. Consequently, Japan organized its first calendar in the 12th year of Suiko (604). [Source: Calendar History, The National Diet Library Japan) ndl.go.jp <|>]

“The calendar used then was called “Tai-in-taiyo-reki,” a lunisolar calendar, or “Onmyo-reki.” Each month was adjusted to the cycle of moon’s waxing and waning. Since the moon orbits the earth in about 29.5 days, adjustment was required and this was done by making months with either 30 days or 29 days, the former, “Dai-no-tsuki (long month),” the latter, “Sho-no-tsuki (short month).” Aside from the moon’s orbit round the earth, the earth orbits the sun in 365.25 days, which, as we all know, causes the seasonal changes. Thus, merely repeating long and short months gradually produced a discrepancy between the actual season and the calendar. To compensate for this, a month called “Uru-zuki,” or intercalary month, was inserted every few years to produce a year with 13 months, with the order of longer and shorter months changing year by year. <|>

“Unlike our contemporary calendar in which there is no change in the order of months, back then the fixing of a calendar was deemed so important that it was placed under the control of the imperial court and, in the later Edo period, under the superimposed military shogunate regime. The calendar established by Onmyo-ryo [Astronomy and Metereology Administration] was called “Guchu-reki,” one in which various words indicating seasons, annual events and daily good omens were written in Chinese characters and called “Reki-chu (calendar notes).” The Guchu-reki derives its name from the fact that the notes were written in detail. <|>

Time Keeping in Ancient Japan


Bronze mirror

Kawagoe wrote: The “Guchu-reki, which was in service until the Edo period, was used particularly by noblemen in ancient and medieval times, individuals who based their everyday activities on the calendar as a matter of course. They often wrote a personal diary in the blank spaces or on the back of their personal calendar. These entries remain left valuable historical records of the era. [Source: Aileen Kawagoe, Heritage of Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com <|>]

“The Guchureki was originally edited in the 11th month of the preceding year by the Astronomy and Meteorology Administration (On’you-ryou in Japanese), a branch of the Ministry of Home Affairs (Nakatsukasa-shou in Japanese) of the Federal Government, and distributed to governers of prefectures and counties etc., as well as some main officers of local governments from the Ministry of Home Affairs.<|>

The times of sunrise and sunset and the daytime and nighttime durations were written on particular fixed dates in Guchureki for the years after the calendar system called Xuanmingli was officially introduced in Japan in the year 862. It has been said that the oldest Guchureki in existence is that of the year 746 (Tenpyo reign period, 18th year), which is now in Shosoin in Nara. However, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties of Nara announced in 2003 that the oldest Guchureki of the year 689 (Jito reign period, 3rd year) was found in Asuka, Nara. Unfortunately, these calendars of Guchureki of the older years did not contain the data of sunrise and sunset or the daytime and nighttime durations. <|>

Compilation of Engishiki started in AD 905 (Engi reign period 5th year) and almost finished in 927. (Similar collections of administration laws and rules for 701-824 and for 824-877 were already compiled as Kouninshiki and Jouganshiki , respectively). Engishiki collected all of the administration laws and rules from the Taiho reign period (701-703) to the Engi reign period (901-922) in separate parts for individual Ministries and Administrations. In the part of the Astronomy and Meteorology Administration, the times of sunrise and sunset, the times to open and close gates of the Palace and the closing hours of government office are given. Incidentally, the main members of this Administration were Doctors of Astronomy, System, Time Keeping etc. and the main work of this Administration was astronomical and meteorological observations, editings almanacs, time keeping etc. <|>

Administrative rules on opening of gates, the closing time of government office, and the closing time of gates are given in Engishiki, for example, as follows. In the English translation L means the solar ecliptic longitude and ST means the local apparent solar time. For days of L 267-284 degrees …The times of sunrise and sunset are chen 1 ke 2 fen (07:06 ST) and shen 4 ke 6 fen (16:48 ST), respectively...Open the gates at mao 4 ke 6 fen (06:48 ST) and beat a drum...Open the main gate at chen 2 ke 7 fen (07:51 ST) and beat a drum....Close the Government Office at wu 1 ke 6 fen (11:06 ST) and beat a drum....Close all of the gates at you 1 ke 2 fen (17:06) and beat a drum. [Source: Japanese units of time (Publi. Astronomical Society of Japan, 2004, Aug 25), PASJ, 65, pp 887-904]

Nara Court Life and Tempyo Culture


Nara-era kimono

Kawagoe wrote: “The court of the Nara period had resumed relations with Tang China sending many diplomatic missions to learn of Chinese methods and culture. As a direct result of those exchanges with the Chinese court, Japan saw new heights in intellectual and cultural development especially during the era between 729 and 749 which is termed the Tempyo culture. [Source: Heritage Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com <^>]

Functionaries and dignatories were often welcomed and received here and entertained by gagaku music and dance performances on a stage in front of this building. Many visitors were received from faraway places in Central and West Asia, from India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia. When they first arrived in the capital city, they were received in grand style with pomp and ceremony in front of the Suzamon gate, an impressive piece of architecture. Japanese envoys and visitors to Japan brought with them many imported foreign cultural and Buddhist artefacts which spurred the development of a highly sophisticated aristocratic culture, music and the fine arts as well as the first flowering of Japanese literature. <^>

“The culture of Heijokyo (ancient Nara) is described thus in a famous poem that appears in the Manyoshu, Japan’s oldest anthology of poems: “The capital of Nara flourishes like a beautiful, fragrant flower in bloom”. Within the Nara palace (Heijo-kyu (as during Asuka times), every morning courtiers holding rank gathered before the Emperor in front of the Great Hall of government (dai-goku-den , then they began their government duties and the bustle around the busy hub of the government ministries (chodoin . According to Nara period law codes, the daigoku-den’s gate was kept open while bureaucrats went about their duties in the chodoin. Thus the Great Hall or daigoku-den was an important building that functioned not only as a ceremonial place, but also as a place where the daily government duties were performed. (Later however during the Heian period, the daigoku-den and the dairi was to be separated physically and functionally.)

Nara and Asuka-Era Court Ceremony and Music

An imperial edict from the Late Nara Period which by Empress Gensho (later Empress Koken) and recorded in the Shoku Nihongi (797) reads: “The Sovereign Sage [a reference to Emperor Temmu] whose name is to be spoken with awe, that ruled the Great Land of Many Islands in the Kiyomibara Palace of Asuka, in governing and ordering the Realm, even as a God deemed that to control and soften both high and low, keeping them tranquil and peaceful, it was necessary to have everywhere and always these two things: Ceremony and Music. Therefore He invented and composed this Dance, and We knowing this and desiring that it shall be received and handed on for ever, as lastingly as Heaven and Earth, have caused this August Child the Princess Imperial to learn it and humbly received it as a charge and now present it before Our August Sovereign.” The records stated that in Tempyo XV, 5th month (743), the Princess Imperial danced at a banquet given to the high officials in the Palace. [Source: Heritage Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com <^>]

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musical instrument
kept in Shosoin
The Nihongi (Chronicles of Japan A.D. 697) recorded that in 683 in the 12th year, Spring, 1st month, 2nd day of the reign of Emperor Temmu: “The functionaries paid their respects at Court. The Viceroy of Tsukushi, Shima, Tajihi no Mabito and others presented tribute of a three-legged sparrow. All from the Princes of the Blood down to the Ministers were invited in front of the Great Hall of Audience and a banquet was given them. On this occasion the three-legged sparrow was shown to the Ministers. ” <^>

“On the 18th day, the Emperor issued a decree saying: “Hear it, all ye governors of provinces, Kuni no Miyakko, governors of districts and common people! Ever since we first rose to the vast dignity, there have been auspicious signs from Heaven, not one or two only, but many. …That they should appear repeatedly every year in this Our reign is, on the one hand, matter for awe, and on the other matter for rejoicing. Therefore the Princes of the Blood, the Princes, with the Ministers and functionaries, as well as the people of the Empire, join with Us in our joy.”… On this day there was a performance in the Court of the Woharida dance and of the music of the three countries of Koryo, Paekche and Silla.

In A.D. 686, Shucho, 1st year, Spring, 1st month, 2nd day. The Emperor took his place in the Great Hall of Audience and gave a banquet to the Princes and High Officials. On this day the Emperor decreed, saying: “We shall now propose conundrums to the Princes and High Officials, and we promise prizes to those who give the right answers.” …On this day Kudara no Nihiki presented to the Emperor a white agate. 9th day: An invitation was given to the three higher ecclesiastics, the Rishhi, and also to the director and clerks of the Great Temple of the Great Palace, nine priests in all and they were entertained at a lay banquet. 13th day: Men of talent, scholars, professors of Philosophy, were summoned to the Palace. Food was given to them and presents made to them. 16th day: The Emperor invited the Princes and High Officials to a banquet in the Great Audience Hall, and made them presents of coarse silk, floss silk, and cloth, varying according to the rank of each. 17th day: There was great revelry at Court. On this day the Emperor took his place in front of the Imperial muro [or Mimuro] building and made presents to performers, of various values. He also gave presents of clothing to singers.

Emperor Shomu’s Bed and Shoes


Emperor Shomu's calligraphy

Among the items associated with Emperor Shomu (701-756) on display at the Exhibition of Shoso-in Treasures at the Nara National Museum in 2014 was a set of two “beds” — gosho” (Japanese cypress bed frame) — said to have been used by the Emperor and Empress. Also on display was a “shitanmokuga no kyoshoku” a red sandalwood armrest. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, November 11, 2014]

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported: Each bed was made from a Japanese cypress, measuring 237.5 centimeters in length and 118.5 centimeters in width. An established theory is that the set is believed to have been used as a double bed for Emperor Shomu and Empress Komyo (701-760). However, Kazuko Koizumi, president of the Japan Society for the History of Interiors, Furniture and Tools says that large furniture used back then was believed to have been used together with another piece of furniture and that one of these beds would have been too small for a nobleman. Therefore, a view arose that two of the beds were put together for use by the emperor and two were put together for the empress.

Also displayed were bright red shoes with gold and white painted detailed edging, measuring 31.5 cm long were decorated with flower-shaped metal studes that are embedded with pearls, colored glass and crystals. The shoes are said to have been worn by Emperor Shomu at the Consecration Ceremony of the Great Buddha in Nara in 752.

Prince Nagaya


Nara-era man

Prince Nagaya (Nagaya-no-okimi or Nagaya-o, 684-729) was the grandson of Emperor Temmu and a politician of the Nara period. Kawagoe wrote: His father was Prince Takechi and his mother Princess Minabe (a daughter of Emperor Tenji and Empress Gemmei’s sister). He married Princess Kibi (his cousin, a daughter of Empress Gemmei and Empress Gensho’s sister). It is a historically known fact that the mother, elder brother, and elder sister of his wife Princess Kibi, also granddaughter of Emperor Temmu, all occupied the throne. [Source: Heritage Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com <^>]

“Because of his impeccable royal pedigree in the Imperial family, he was a powerful personality in 8th century politics. Prince Nagaya held the post of Sadaijin (Minister of the Left, the highest regularly-held governmental post and roughly the equivalent to the modern-day prime minister) and led the government. <^>

“The Fujiwara clan was the most powerful rival clan of Nagaya. Fujiwara no Fuhito, the leader of the house, had been the most powerful courtier in the court in those days when this country was reigned by Empress Gensho, a cousin of Nagaya’s. After Fuhito’s death in 720, he seized complete power in the court. This power shift was the source of later conflicts between him and Fuhito’s four sons (Muchimaro, Fusasaki, Maro and Umakai) in the reign of Emperor Shomu. <^>

“In 729, Fuhito’s four sons accused and charged Prince Nagaya with the false crime of plotting a rebellion. As a result of the conspiracy of the Fujiwara Family who supported Emperor Shomu, Prince Nagaya was forced to kill himself in the same year. His wife, Princess Kibi, and his children were killed at the same time. After his death, it became clear that he was framed in a plot by the Fujiwara family, who sought to seize power. Thereafter, the life of Prince Nagaya’s is often recounted as a tale of tragedy.” <^>

Prince Nagaya’s Mansion: What Its Says About a Nara-Era Nobleman’s Life

Kawagoe wrote: “While Prince Nagaya had lived, a huge residence, including mansion and estate, had been allocated to him near the Imperial palace in a very good part of Heijo-kyo, the capital city during most of the Nara period, from 710–40 and again from 745–84. The excavated site, stretching over 30,000 square meters of land, was a large-sized plot and was in a prime location – adjacent to the southeastern corner of the Heijo Palace and in the vicinity are other mansions occupied by historically known elite aristocrats. Excavations of the area yielded the finds of a large number of roof tiles, including decorated edge-roof tiles. The use of roof tiles was generally restricted to palaces and temples in the Heijo Capital and were very rarely to be found in residences. [Source: Heritage Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com <^>]


Nara-woman

“Excavations on Prince Nagaya’s property covering 60,000 square metres, uncovered about 250 structures (without foundation stones), fifty wells, alleys, ditches and fences. The mansion was divided by fences into specialized functional spaces such as private residence, ritual areas, storage spaces and government working spaces. <^>

“At the eastern end of the mansion was a large garbage ditch out of which 50,000 wooden tablets with inscriptions (these are referred to as Prince Nagaya’s Mansion Wooden Tablets). These were exciting discoveries because there are very few sites in Heijo-kyo (the Capital Nara) that can be identified by their residents. From the inscriptions of the excavated strips of wood, scholars were able to identify and confirm that Prince Nagaya and his wife, Princess Kibi lived in the excavated mansion. <^>

“In ancient times paper was expensive, so strips of wood, or wooden writing tablets, were used for daily recordings and communications. Tens of thousands of tablets excavated from Prince Nagaya’s site were used for a variety of needs and purposes, including the recording of the prince’s domestic finances as well as serving as shipping tags attached to goods transported to his residence. Scholars learned a great deal from the wooden tablets used for transactions within Prince Nagaya’s household organization, territory which was Prince’s economic basis and daily life.” <^>

“Cornelius J. Kiley wrote: “During the seventh and eighth centuries, wooden slips were used for a wide range of documentary purposes that went far beyond mere labeling. Any official message or memo that did not require long archival preservation could be routinely written on a small strip of wood. It might be discarded once the information had reached its destination, but might also be retained for a time as an administrative record. The recent discovery of about forty thousand mokkan dating from 711 to 716 at the site of the palace of Prince Nagaya (684-729), who was eventually eliminated in the course of a dynastic struggle, has provided much new information about how the household chanceries of Nara period grandees operated. It is now clear that Prince Nagaya’s menage had a compound structure, including at least two, and possibly three, separate but interlocking chanceries, one for Prince Nagaya himself and a higher level one for the senior ascendant imperial family member living there, probably Princess of the Blood Hidaka, who became Empress Gensho in 715. Some mokkan point to a third chancery, that of his wife, Princess of the Blood Kibi. In this case, mokkan have provided new information about the matriarchal elements of kinship and inheritance among ancient Japanese nobility.” [Source: “Wooden tags and noble houses: the household(s) of Prince Nagaya as revealed by mokkan” by Cornelius J. Kiley, [Abstracts of AAS’ Session 48. Sticks, Stones, Pots and Plots: Archeological Insights into Japanese History]

Prince Nagaya’s Possessions

Kawagoe wrote: “Artefacts discovered included pottery: Sue pottery (fired with an oxidizing flame at higher than 1,000 degrees centigrade) and Haji pottery (fired with a reducing flame at lower than 1,000 degrees for daily use). [Source: Heritage Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com <^>]

“Some artifacts recovered from the site included copper mirrors and coins. Other ritual artifacts included human-shaped wooden figurines and boat shaped objects thought to have been used for magical or ritual purposes. A cypress fan, crown made of lacquer and a wooden shoe were also found. Other interesting finds included the oldest votive tablet ever found of a horse, and as well as a rare landscape painting with a pavilion on a wooden board. <^>


“The latter landscape aesthetics from the painting on the wooden board have been reconstructed or replicated based on the actual excavated remnants of the ancient pond on the south of the site. Excavators had discovered a 50 m-long zigzag pond that had been artificially constructed with stones. The pond has now been designated as “a historic site of special significance”. Prince Nagaya was also known to have kept cranes as pets. Drawings on excavated wooden boards illustrate the lavish landscaped setting in which the prince lived. The excavated artificial pond indicated the courtly aesthetics of the time and confirmed the luxurious lifestyle of the aristocrat of the Nara Period. <^>

“Also among the artefacts were some Nara Three Colored Ceramics and Tang Three Colored Ceramics, evidence of the commerce and trading activities of the Silk Road and the influence of Tang Dynasty China at the time. Excavated in large quantities from many Japanese sites related to religious rituals, Nara three-color ware, known for its wide variety of forms and functions, was modeled on the Tang tri-color mortuary articles for burial with the dead. [Source: Tang Tricolor Pottery (Cultural China) <^>]

“Imported Tang tricolor pottery generally portrayed the luxurious social life of the Tang Dynasty courtiers during its peak, while local Nara tricolor pottery(believed to have been locally produced in large kilns near the capital by a government authorized bureau because of the uniformly similar method of production of pieces found all over Japan) hints of the quarter from which Nara Japan drew its inspiration for its newly imported aesthetic values (which attached great importance to the flamboyance and elegance of the attires and the plumpness of ladies) and sancai techniques. The Nara potteries were highly prized as they were the first Japanese pottery to be using man-made glazes, and together with the Tang tricolor ones, the pottery were admired for their fine quality and beauty.” <^>

Prince Nagaya’s Estate

Satomi Nishimura of Nara Women’s University wrote: Prince Naagaya “and his wife Princess Kibi had estates, called mita or misono, in and around Yamato Province (modern Nara Prefecture). From these estates, rice, vegetables and other goods were transported to their residence. Records suggest that these estates were not only provided by the government according to one’s position but also owned privately at a time when the entire land was, in theory, owned by the state. [Source: Everyday life of a nobleman in the 8th century by Satomi Nishimura, Faculty of Letters, Nara Women’s University ==]

“Many of these estates were in the southern part of the Nara Basin, where previous capitals were located. But some of them were located in the provinces around Yamato Province, including Kawachi (modern Osaka Prefecture) and Yamashiro (modern Kyoto Prefecture). The following table shows some of their estates as identified by the excavated wooden tablets used as shipping tags. ==

Estates (Name, Suppsed Location, Transported Goods): 1) Saho; Nara-shi [Nara-ken]; ginger etc. 2) Kataoka; Oji-cho and Kashiba-shi [Nara-ken]; lotus, turnip etc. 3) Kikami; Asuka-mura [Nara-ken] or Koryo-cho [Nara-ken] ); glutinous rice, bamboo etc. 4) Miminashi; Kashihara-shi [Nara-ken]; Japanese parsley etc. 5) Oba; Moriguchi-shi [Osaka-fu] or Koryo-cho [Nara-ken] ); turnip etc. 6) Shibukawa; Higashiosaka-shi [Osaka-fu] ); rice etc. 7) Yamashiro; Kyoto-fu or Minami-Kawachi-gun [Osaka-fu] ); Japanese radish, vegetables etc. ==

“Moreover, he accepted various goods including rice, salt and seafood not only from his estates but also from more remote provinces such as Ohmi (Shiga Prefecture), Echizen (Fukui Prefecture), Suoh (Yamaguchi Prefecture), and Sanuki (Kagawa Prefecture). It is supposed that these goods were provisions from the government. Therefore, the life of Prince Nagaya was based on the relationships he had with the wide areas outside the capital. ==



“Prince Nagaya owned a himuro (ice storehouse) in Tsuge (Tenri-shi, Tsuge-mura), 10 kilometers southeast of Nara. Ice, stored in the himuro in winter, was delivered to his residence almost every day in summer. It is speculated that they used ice for drinking sake “on the rocks.” Given the lack of refrigeration in those days, ice was precious for relieving the heat of summer and the fact that he owned a private icehouse is an indication of considerable household luxury. It is thought that with the resources that he had amassed, Prince Nagaya was in the habit of entertaining his guests in a lavish manner. ==

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Aileen Kawagoe, Heritage of Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com <^>; Charles T. Keally, Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology (retired), Sophia University, Tokyo, figal-sensei.org *~*; Asia for Educators Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan; Library of Congress; Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO); New York Times; Washington Post; Los Angeles Times; Daily Yomiuri; Japan News; Times of London; National Geographic; The New Yorker; Reuters; Associated Press; Lonely Planet Guides; Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications. Many sources are cited at the end of the facts for which they are used.

Last updated September 2016

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