Tōdai-ji is a Buddhist temple complex, once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples, located in the city of Nara, Japan. Though it was founded in the year 738 CE, Todai-ji was not opened until the year 572 CE, its Great Buddha Hall houses the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known in Japanese as Daibutsu. The temple serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism; the temple is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara", together with seven other sites including temples and places in the city of Nara. The beginning of building a temple where the Kinshōsen-ji complex sits today can be dated to 728 CE, when Emperor Shōmu established Kinshōsen-ji as an appeasement for Prince Motoi, his first son with his Fujiwara clan consort Kōmyōshi. Prince Motoi died a year after his birth. During the Tenpyō era, Japan suffered from a series of epidemics, it was after experiencing these problems that Emperor Shōmu issued an edict in 741 to promote the construction of provincial temples throughout the nation.
In 743 duing the Tenpyō era the Emperor commissioned the Daibutsu to be built in 743. Tōdai-ji was appointed as the provincial temple of Yamato Province and the head of all the provincial temples. With the alleged coup d'état by Nagaya in 729, a major outbreak of smallpox around 735–737, worsened by several consecutive years of poor crops, followed by a rebellion led by Fujiwara no Hirotsugu in 740, the country was in a chaotic situation. Emperor Shōmu had been forced to move the capital four times, indicating a certain level of instability during this period. According to legend, the monk Gyōki went to Ise Grand Shrine to reconcile Shinto with Buddhism, he spent seven days and nights reciting sutras until the oracle declared Vairocana Buddha compatible with worship of the sun goddess Amaterasu. Under the Ritsuryō system of government in the Nara period, Buddhism was regulated by the state through the Sōgō. During this time, Tōdai-ji served as the central administrative temple for the provincial temples and for the six Buddhist schools in Japan at the time: the Hossō, Kegon, Jōjitsu, Sanron and Kusha.
Letters dating from this time show that all six Buddhist schools had offices at Tōdai-ji, complete with administrators and their own library. Japanese Buddhism during this time still maintained the lineage of the Vinaya and all licensed monks were required to take their ordination under the Vinaya at Tōdai-ji. In 754 CE, ordination was given by Ganjin, who arrived in Japan after traveling over 12 years and six attempts of crossing the sea from China, to Empress Kōken, former Emperor Shōmu and others. Buddhist monks, including Kūkai and Saichō received their ordination here as well. During Kūkai's administration of the Sōgō, additional ordination ceremonies were added to Tōdai-ji, including the ordination of the Bodhisattva Precepts from the Brahma Net Sutra and the esoteric Precepts, or Samaya, from Kukai's own newly established Shingon school of Buddhism. Kūkai added an Abhiseka Hall to use for initiating monks of the six Nara schools into the esoteric teachings. By 829 CE; as the center of power in Japanese Buddhism shifted away from Nara to Mount Hiei and the Tendai sect, when the capital of Japan moved to Kamakura, Tōdai-ji's role in maintaining authority declined.
In generations, the Vinaya lineage died out, despite repeated attempts to revive it. In 743, Emperor Shōmu issued a law stating that the people should become directly involved with the establishment of new Buddhist temples throughout Japan; the Emperor believed that such piety would inspire Buddha to protect his country from further disaster. Gyōki, with his pupils, traveled the provinces asking for donations. According to records kept by Tōdai-ji, more than 2,600,000 people in total helped construct the Great Buddha and its Hall; the 16m high statue was built through eight castings over three years, the head and neck being cast together as a separate element. The making of the statue was started first in Shigaraki. After enduring multiple fires and earthquakes, the construction was resumed in Nara in 745, the Buddha was completed in 751. A year in 752, the eye-opening ceremony was held with an attendance of 10,000 monks and 4,000 dancers to celebrate the completion of the Buddha; the Indian priest Bodhisena performed the eye-opening for Emperor Shōmu.
The project nearly bankrupted Japan's economy, consuming a great amount of the bronze available at the time. 48 lacquered cinnabar pillars, 1.5 m in diameter and 30 m long, support the blue tiled roof of the Daibutsu-den. Maps that include some of the original structures of Todai-ji are rare, though some still exist today; some of these structures include, the two pagodas, the library, lecture hall and the monk's quarters located behind the main hall. Todai-ji functioned not only as a place of worship and Buddhist practice, but as a place of higher learning and study. Much of what contemporaries now know about the original layout of the temple comes from the writings of monks who lived and studied there; the original complex contained two 100 m pagodas, making them some of the tallest structures at the time. They were located on one on the western and one on the eastern side; the pagodas themselves were surrounded by a walled courtyard with four gates. These were destroyed by an
Nara is the capital city of Nara Prefecture located in the Kansai region of Japan. The city occupies the northern part of Nara Prefecture. Eight temples and ruins in Nara remain: Tōdai-ji, Saidai-ji, Kōfuku-ji, Kasuga Shrine, Gangō-ji, Yakushi-ji, Tōshōdai-ji, the Heijō Palace, together with Kasugayama Primeval Forest, collectively form "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara", a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During 710 CE - 784 CE, Nara was the capital of Japan, the Emperor lived there before moving the capital to Kyoto. By the Heian period, a variety of different characters had been used to represent the name Nara: 乃楽, 乃羅, 平, 平城, 名良, 奈良, 奈羅, 常, 那良, 那楽, 那羅, 楢, 諾良, 諾楽, 寧, 寧楽 and 儺羅. A number of theories for the origin of the name Nara have been proposed, some of the better-known ones are listed here; the second theory in the list, by notable folklorist Kunio Yanagita, is most accepted at present. The Nihon Shoki suggests. According to this account, in September in the tenth year of Emperor Sujin, "leading selected soldiers went forward, climbed Nara-yama and put them in order.
Now the imperial forces flattened trees and plants. Therefore the mountain is called Nara-yama." Though the narrative itself is regarded as a folk etymology and few researchers regard it as historical, this is the oldest surviving suggestion, is linguistically similar to the following theory by Yanagita. "Flat land" theory: In his 1936 study of placenames, the author Kunio Yanagita states that "the topographical feature of an area of gentle gradient on the side of a mountain, called taira in eastern Japan and hae in the south of Kyushu, is called naru in the Chūgoku region and Shikoku. This word gives rise to the verb narasu, adverb narashi, adjective narushi." This is supported by entries in a dialect dictionary for nouns referring to flat areas: naru and naro. Yanagita further comments that the way in which the fact that so many of these placenames are written using the character 平, or other characters in which it is an element, demonstrates the validity of this theory. Citing a 1795 document, Inaba-shi from the province of Inaba, the eastern part of modern Tottori, as indicating the reading naruji for the word 平地, Yanagita suggests that naruji would have been used as a common noun there until the modern period.
Of course, the fact that "Nara" was written 平 or 平城 as above is further support for this theory. The idea that Nara is derived from 楢 nara is the next most common opinion; this idea was suggested by Yoshida Togo. This noun for the plant can be seen as early as in Man ` Harima-no-kuni Fudoki; the latter book states the place name Narahara in Harima derives from this nara tree, which might support Yoshida's theory. Note that the name of the nearby city of Kashihara contains a semantically similar morpheme. Nara could be a loan word from Korean nara; this idea was put forward by a linguist Matsuoka Shizuo. Not much about the Old Korean language is known today, the first written attestation of a word ancestral to Modern Korean nara is as late as the 15th century, such as in Yongbieocheonga, Wolinseokbo, or Beophwagyeongeonhae, there is no evidence that proves the word existed as far back as the 7th century; these 15th-century books used narah, an old form of nara in Korean, its older form might be reconstructed *narak.
American linguist Christopher I. Beckwith infers the Korean narak derives from the late Middle Old Chinese 壌, from early *narak, has no connection with Goguryoic and Japanese na. Kusuhara et al. points out this hypothesis cannot account for the fact there are lots of places named Nara and Naro besides this Nara. There is the idea. In some Tungusic languages such as Orok, na means land or the like; some have speculated about a connection between these Tungusic words and Old Japanese nawi, an archaic and somewhat obscure word that appears in the verb phrases nawi furu and nawi yoru. The "Flat land" theory is adopted by Nihon Kokugo Daijiten, various dictionaries for place names, history books on Nara and the like today, it is regarded as the most likely. By decree of an edict on March 11, 708 AD, Empress Genmei ordered the court to relocate to the new capital, Nara. Once known as Heijō or Heijō-kyō, the city was established as Japan’s first permanent capital in 710 CE. Heijō, as the ‘penultimate court’, was abandoned by the order of Emperor Kammu in 784 CE in favor of the temporary site of Nagaoka, Kyoto which retained the status of capital for 1,100 years, until the Meiji Emperor made the final move to Edo
Battle of Sunomata-gawa
The Battle of Sunomata-gawa took place in Japan on 6 August 1181, in the present-day town of Sunomata, Gifu Prefecture. The battle started when Minamoto no Yukiie attempted a sneak attack against his enemies during the night, he found Taira no Tomomori and his army directly opposite from his, along the Sunomata River, near the borders of Owari and Mino provinces. The Minamoto warriors waded across, but their ambush failed when the Taira clan could distinguish dry friend from soaking, dripping wet foe in the pitch dark of night. Yukiie and a number of other surviving Minamoto were forced back across the river. After crossing the river, the Minamoto went to the Yahagi River in Mikawa Province, but the Taira chased after them. List of Japanese battles
The Heian period is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. The period is named after modern Kyōto, it is the period in Japanese history when Buddhism and other Chinese influences were at their height. The Heian period is considered the peak of the Japanese imperial court and noted for its art poetry and literature. Although the Imperial House of Japan had power on the surface, the real power was in the hands of the Fujiwara clan, a powerful aristocratic family who had intermarried with the imperial family. Many emperors had mothers from the Fujiwara family. Heian means "peace" in Japanese; the Heian period was preceded by the Nara period and began in 794 CE after the movement of the capital of Japan to Heian-kyō, by the 50th emperor, Emperor Kanmu Kanmu first tried to move the capital to Nagaoka-kyō, but a series of disasters befell the city, prompting the emperor to relocate the capital a second time, to Heian. A rebellion occurred in China in the last years of the 9th century, making the political situation unstable.
The Japanese missions to Tang China was suspended and the influx of Chinese exports halted, a fact which facilitated the independent growth of Japanese culture called kokufu bunka. Therefore, the Heian Period is considered a high point in Japanese culture that generations have always admired; the period is noted for the rise of the samurai class, which would take power and start the feudal period of Japan. Nominally, sovereignty lay in the emperor but in fact, power was wielded by the Fujiwara nobility. However, to protect their interests in the provinces, the Fujiwara, other noble families required guards and soldiers; the warrior class made steady political gains throughout the Heian period. As early as 939 CE, Taira no Masakado threatened the authority of the central government, leading an uprising in the eastern province of Hitachi, simultaneously, Fujiwara no Sumitomo rebelled in the west. Still, a true military takeover of the Japanese government was centuries away, when much of the strength of the government would lie within the private armies of the shogunate.
The entry of the warrior class into court influence was a result of the Hōgen Rebellion. At this time Taira no Kiyomori revived the Fujiwara practices by placing his grandson on the throne to rule Japan by regency, their clan, the Taira, would not be overthrown until after the Genpei War, which marked the start of the Kamakura shogunate. The Kamakura period began in 1185 when Minamoto no Yoritomo seized power from the emperors and established the shogunate in Kamakura; when Emperor Kanmu moved the capital to Heian-kyō, which remained the imperial capital for the next 1,000 years, he did so not only to strengthen imperial authority but to improve his seat of government geopolitically. Nara was abandoned after only 70 years in part due to the ascendancy of Dōkyō and the encroaching secular power of the Buddhist institutions there. Kyōto had good river access to the sea and could be reached by land routes from the eastern provinces; the early Heian period continued Nara culture. Kanmu endeavored to improve the Tang-style administrative system, in use.
Known as the ritsuryō, this system attempted to recreate the Tang imperium in Japan, despite the "tremendous differences in the levels of development between the two countries". Despite the decline of the Taika–Taihō reforms, imperial government was vigorous during the early Heian period. Kanmu's avoidance of drastic reform decreased the intensity of political struggles, he became recognized as one of Japan's most forceful emperors. Although Kanmu had abandoned universal conscription in 792, he still waged major military offensives to subjugate the Emishi, possible descendants of the displaced Jōmon, living in northern and eastern Japan. After making temporary gains in 794, in 797, Kanmu appointed a new commander, Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, under the title Sei-i Taishōgun. By 801, the shōgun had defeated the Emishi and had extended the imperial domains to the eastern end of Honshū. Imperial control over the provinces was tenuous at best, however. In the ninth and tenth centuries, much authority was lost to the great families, who disregarded the Chinese-style land and tax systems imposed by the government in Kyoto.
Stability came to Japan, but though succession was ensured for the imperial family through heredity, power again concentrated in the hands of one noble family, the Fujiwara which helped Japan develop more. Following Kanmu's death in 806 and a succession struggle among his sons, two new offices were established in an effort to adjust the Taika–Taihō administrative structure. Through the new Emperor's Private Office, the emperor could issue administrative edicts more directly and with more self-assurance than before; the new Metropolitan Police Board replaced the ceremonial imperial guard units. While these two offices strengthened the emperor's position temporarily, soon they and other Chinese-style structures were bypassed in the developing state. In 838 the end of the imperial-sanctioned missions to Tang China, which had begun in 630, marked the effective end of Chinese influence. Tang China was in a state of decline, Chinese Buddhists were persecuted, undermining Japanese respect for Chinese institutions.
Japan began to turn inward. As the Soga clan had taken control of the throne in the sixth century, the Fujiwara by the ninth century had intermarried with the imperial family, one of their members was the first head of the Emperor's Private O
Minamoto no Yukiie
Minamoto no Yukiie was the brother of Minamoto no Yoshitomo, one of the commanders of the Minamoto forces in the Genpei War at the end of the Heian period of Japanese history. In 1181, he was defeated at the Battle of Sunomatagawa by Taira no Shigehira, his forces were defeated once more at this Battle of Yahagigawa, but the pursuit was called off when Tomomori fell ill. Yukiie was able to join Minamoto no Yoshinaka in besieging the capital city in the summer of 1183. Taira no Munemori was forced to flee with the young emperor while the cloistered emperor joined Yoshinaka. For a time, Yukiie plotted with Minamoto no Yoshinaka against the head of the clan, but when Yoshinaka suggested kidnapping the cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa, Yukiie betrayed him, revealing his plan to Emperor Go-Shirakawa, who in turn revealed it to Yoritomo. Yukiie, former Governor of Bizen allied himself with Minamoto Yoshitsune, under imperial orders, against Yoritomo. Yukiie was captured and killed in 1186, on orders from Yoritomo
Siege of Nara
Following the 1180 Battle of Uji, in which Minamoto no Yorimasa fought a small Taira army with the help of monks from the Mii-dera and other temples, the victorious Taira sought revenge. They burned the Miidera temple, before moving on to Nara, where they "set fire to the monastic complexes of Kōfuku-ji and Tōdai-ji."The Taira were opposed by warrior monks from nearly every major monastery and temple in Nara. Taira no Shigehira and Tomomori, both sons of Kiyomori, head of the clan, commanded the siege; the monks dug ditches in the roads, build many forms of improvised defenses. They fought with bow & arrow, naginata, while the Taira were on horseback, giving them a great advantage. Despite the monks' superior numbers, their strategic defenses, their enemy succeeded in destroying nearly every temple in the city, including the Kōfuku-ji and Tōdai-ji. Only the Shōsōin survived; the Heike Monogatari laments the destruction the Tōdai-ji's Daibutsu: In all, 3,500 people died in the burning of Nara.
Turnbull, Stephen.'Japanese Warrior Monks AD 949-1603'. Oxford: Osprey Publishing