Episode 506 – The Peaceful City

This week in the Revised History of Japan: in a bid to strengthen the power of the imperial family, Emperor Kanmu moves the imperial capital one more time to some newfangled place called “Heian-kyo.” Plus, the political battle between the imperial family and the Fujiwara clan takes a few more twists.


McCullough, William H. “The Heian Court” in The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol II: Heian Japan, ed. Donald Shively and William H. McCullough

Adolphson, Mikael S. “Oligarchy, Shared Rulership, and Power Blocs” in Japan Emerging: Premodern History to 1850, ed Karl Friday.


A 16th century painted portrait of Emperor Kanmu.
A selection of Kanmu’s calligraphy in Chinese. This particular piece is a poem memorializing the Buddhist thinker Saicho (about whom more next week).
An early 19th century painting of Emperor Ninmyo’s main consort Fujiwara no Junshi.
Heiankyo in miniature model form, from the Kyoto Heiankyo Soseikan museum. The temple in the foreground is Saiji in the southwest end of the city.
A historical marker on the site of the former imperial palace in Nagaokakyo.