Who Designated Kyoto As a Capital of Japan?

Currently the capital of Japan is in Tokyo. However for about 1,000 years, it used to be Kyoto.
And it was in Nara and Nagaoka (in Kyoto Prefecture), before Kyoto was chosen as the capital.

This post explains briefly who chose the Kyoto as a capital and why he did so.

The capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784. But in less than 9 years, Emperor Kanmu decided to move the capital again from Nagaoka to Kyoto. He wanted to be independent from one of the biggest political powers in Nara, which was the temple. However, his loyal servant, Fujiwara no Tanetsugu was killed right after he moved the capital. It was a shocking event for the emperor and he purged several important figures from his court, including the prince Sawara.

The prince denied the suspicion and chose to starve to death. After this event, Kanmu’s family members suddenly started dying one after another, which made people believe that they were haunted.

Then Emperor decided to move the capital to regain the structure and power. The location of modern day Kyoto City was chosen as the new capital and called “Heiankyo”. In this way, the capital was moved to Kyoto in 794 and stayed here until 1869.

This is a very brief summary, however it is still useful and worth knowing for those who are considering visiting Kyoto.

There is a dedicated section for historical figures in Kyoto e-Guidebook. It is now available on Amazon sites.

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