Kunikyo Ruins, A Former Imperial Capital Information

Kunikyo Ruins, A Former Imperial Capital

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  • The Mikanohara basin, which is surrounded by small hills, used to be home to Kunikyo, a former imperial palace that stood here between 740 and 744 CE. For three years, the imperial capital was here. Today Mikanohara is a vast, idyllic field with wildflowers located directly north of the nearby Kizu River. A careful eye, however, will easily notice the appearance of stone slabs along with the landscape. These are the remains of the Kunikyo palace. Today, this area has become a public space where the locals can come and enjoy the outdoors. The ruins of Kunikyo are still very much an important part of local culture and heritage.


    In 740, plagued by war and disease, Japan grew increasingly unstable. Emperor Shomu (701–756) declared the relocation of the capital in an attempt to ward off the spread of disease. The move is also thought to be strongly indicative of a power struggle between two influential court noble families, the Fujiwara clan and the Tachibana clan. The Fujiwaras held power in the existing capital, Heijokyo. The Tachibanas’ power base was Minami Yamashiro, and this relocation could have implied a shift in the balance of authority in favor of the Tachibana clan. Unfortunately, the next year, when the emperor came to Kunikyo to welcome the New Year in a formal ceremony, the imperial palace had yet to be completed. The next year as well, the city was still under construction and uninhabitable, so the New Year’s ceremony had to be held in a makeshift building. In 744, the Emperor relocated the capital again, this time to Naniwanomiya, thus ending Kunikyo’s short stint as capital after only three years. The city remained unfinished, and that same year the remaining structures of Kunikyo were incorporated into Yamashiro Kokubunji Temple.

    All that remains of the imperial palace today are its foundation stones. Not far away are the cornerstones of what used to be a temple’s seven-storied pagoda. In a 1973 excavation, the foundations of even more buildings were unearthed.

  • Opening hours Free
    Entrance fee Free
    Address 20 Reihei Kaijusen,Kamo-cho,Kizugawa-shi,Kyoto,619-1106


    About 5 minutes by Nara Kotsu bus bound for "Wazuka-kosugi" from JR Kansai Line "Kamo" station , and get off at "Okazaki (Kamo)" about 10 minutes on foot./About 10 minutes by taxi from JR Kansai Line "Kamo" station.