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The Beginnings of a State under the Ritsuryo System

"The Beginnings of a State under the Ritsuryo System"

Heiseikan Japanese Archaeology Gallery  September 22, 2021 (Wed) - March 21, 2022 (Mon)

Lidded Jar
Found in Ibaraki City, Osaka, Nara period, 8th century (Important Cultural Property)

In 701, a system of law and administration (ritsuryo) modeled after Tang China was established in Japan under the emperor. A new imperial capital was founded at Nara in 710, with the following 74 years known as the Nara period. During this period, large-scale projects such as the construction of national roads and government-administered Buddhist temples were undertaken. Such events were preceded by the dispatch of envoys to China from the 7th century. These envoys brought the latest institutions, religions, technology, and cultural objects to Japan, contributing greatly to the political and cultural reforms that followed.

Buddhism in particular affected Japan. One Buddhist tradition that spread through society, beginning with the emperor and powerful aristocrats, was cremation. This section displays vessels for cremated remains, items buried with the deceased, and epitaphs noting individuals’ achievements.

Roof tiles, which were introduced to Japan at the end of the 6th century, were initially used for Buddhist temples. After an earlier imperial capital was established in 694, their use was extended to the imperial palace and government buildings. When Emperor Shomu ordered the construction of government-administered temples across Japan in 741, the production of roof tiles gained momentum in the provinces. This section also exhibits distinctive tiles from various regions, ranging from Tohoku in the north to Kyushu in the south.

Major Work(s) on Exhibit 6 results
Designation Name Amount Creation Excavation Period Acquisition Ownership Comment
Important Cultural Property Lidded Jar Found in Ibaraki City, Osaka Nara period, 8th century J-35627
Highlight Round Eave Tile, Design of Lotus flower From the ruins of Asuka-dera, Asuka-mura, Nara Asuka period, 6~7th century J-35079
Decorative Roof Tile with a Lotus Flower Asuka period, 7th century J-24248-1
Ridge-end Tile, Lotus flower design From Yamamura Haiji Temple site, Yama-cho, Nara-shi, Nara Asuka period, 7th century J-35460
Highlight Five-storied Stupa of Fired Clay Found at Tamako-machi, Higashimurayama-shi, Tokyo Nara period, 8th century J-25396
Highlight Ridge-end ornament Found at Tosaka (Takaida) Temple Site, Osaka Asuka - Nara period, 7th - 8th century J-25363