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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The Kyoto of today is only a remnant of the ancient city



These occurrences moved the Emperor so profoundly that Nagaoka became intolerable to him. Gradually the work of building was abandoned, and, in 792, a new site was selected by Wake no Kiyomaro at Uda in the same province. So many attractions were claimed for this village that failure to choose it originally becomes difficult to understand. Imperial decrees eulogized its mountains and rivers, and people recalled a prediction uttered 170 years previously by Prince Shotoku that the place would ultimately be selected for the perpetual capital of the empire. The Tang metropolis, Changan, was taken for model. Commenced in April, 794, the new metropolis was finished in December, 805.

The city was laid out with mathematical exactness in the form of a rectangle, nearly three and one-half miles long, from north to south, and about three miles wide, from east to west. In each direction were nine principal thoroughfares, those running east and west crossing the north and south streets at right angles. The east and west streets were numbered from 1 to 9, and, although the regularity of structure and plan of the city has been altered by fire and other causes in eleven hundred years, traces of this early system of nomenclature are still found in the streets of Kyoto.* Running north from the centre of the south side was a great avenue, two hundred and eighty feet wide, which divided

the city into two parts, the eastern, called "the left metropolis" (later Tokyo, "eastern capital"), and "the right metropolis" (or Saikyo, "western capital"),--the left, as always in Japan, having precedence over the right, and the direction being taken not from the southern entrance gate but from the Imperial palace, to which this great avenue led and which was on the northern limits of the city and, as the reader will see, at the very centre of the north wall. Grouped around the palace were government buildings of the different administrative departments and assembly and audience halls.

*The Kyoto of today is only a remnant of the ancient city; it was almost wholly destroyed by fire in the Onin war of 1467.

The main streets, which have already been mentioned as connecting the gates in opposite walls, varied in width from 80 feet to 170 feet. They divided the city into nine districts, all of the same area except the ones immediately east of the palace. The subdivisions were as formal and precise. Each of the nine districts contained four divisions. Each division was made up of four streets. A street was made up of four rows, each row containing eight "house-units." The house-unit was 50 by 100 feet. The main streets in either direction were crossed at regular intervals by lanes or minor streets, all meeting at right angles.

The Imperial citadel in the north central part of the city was 4600 feet long (from north to south) and 3840 feet wide, and was surrounded by a fence roofed with tiles and pierced with three gates on either side. The palace was roofed with green tiles of Chinese manufacture and a few private dwellings had roofs made of slate-coloured tiles, but most of them were shingled. In the earlier period, it is to be remembered, tiles were used almost exclusively for temple roofs. The architecture of the new city was in general very simple and unpretentious. The old canons of Shinto temple architecture had some influence even in this city built on a Chinese model. Whatever display or ornament there was, appeared not on the exterior but in inner rooms, especially those giving on inner court yards. That these resources were severely taxed, however, cannot be doubted, especially when we remember that the campaign against the Yemishi was simultaneously conducted. History relates that three-fifths of the national revenues were appropriated for the building.

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