The Century of Reforms in Japan

The century of reforms (around 600 to around 700)

Shōtoku-taishi strongly promoted Buddhism and its spread. He founded the Hōryūji temple and is considered to be the initiator of the reforms that began at that time: the top government was reshaped, administrative facilities were created, the Chinese calendar was introduced, chronicles were created and embassies with China were intensified. Shōtoku-taishi is also considered to be the author of the “Constitution in 17 Articles” (604). Soon after his death and that of Soga no Umako(626), the contrasts between Soga no Umako’s descendants and the circle around the later Emperor Tenji (38th Tennō 661-672), in which the later so-called Fujiwara no Kamatari (* 614, † 669) played a decisive role in a coup d’état: in 645 the members of the Soga family were killed or turned off and the Empress Kōgyoku (35th Tennō 642-645) was forced to resign. The Taik reforms announced by edict the following year continued the transformation in the spirit of Shōtoku-taishi. The aim was to set up a centralized administration based on the Chinese model. The land became state property and could therefore be periodically assigned to the families for cultivation. The law was codified, the tax system organized, among other things. more. The structure of the nobility underwent radical changes under Emperor Temmu (40th Tennō 672-686). His grandson Mommu (42. Tennō 697–707) brought the various reforms to a close in a closed system. In the Taihōcodex (701), in its annotated version of 833, almost all of it was preserved, all public and many private areas were regulated. A decisive factor in the codification was Fujiwara no Fuhito (* 659, † 720), son of the ancestor of the family, Fujiwara no Kamatari. The head of the administration was formed by the Grand Chancellery and the eight ministries; the empire was divided into 66 provinces with 592 districts. The then (de jure until 1870) valid establishment plan for civil servants and employees contained a total of almost 10,000 positions.

The Nara Period (710-784)

Empress Gemmei (43rd Tennō 707-715) ordered the relocation of the residence from Fujiwara (near today’s Nara) to Heijō-kyō (now Nara); this metropolis, presumably based on the model of the capital of the Chinese Tang dynasty, Ch’ang-an, became the first permanent capital of Japan in 710. On the instructions of the Empress, the oldest surviving monuments in Japanese literature were created, and Fujiwara no Fuhito was instrumental in creating them. The writings of this time include the “Chronicle of old incidents” (Kojiki, 712) and the descriptions of the province of Fudoki (from 713). A revision of the Taihō Codex (718) as well as the first of the official “Six Empire Stories” (Rikkokushi): Nihon-shoki (Nihongi, 720). The increasing prosperity of the court nobility led to the cultural heyday in the Tempyō period (in the narrower sense 729-770): Emperor Shōmu (45th Tennō 724-749) built the Tōdaiji temple with the large Buddha statue (consecrated in 752). The oldest Japanese anthology of poetry, Manyōshū, emerged only a little later. The influence of the Buddhist clergy on political events had become very strong. This was clear from the rise of the priest Dōkyō († 772). His usurpatory behavior was probably one of the reasons why Emperor Kammu (50. Tennō 781-806) wanted to remove the court from the vicinity of the clergy and initiated a relocation of his residence. In 784 he moved to Nagaoka. But as early as 793 the emperor prepared another relocation: the new capital Heian-kyō was to be built near the village of Uda.

The Century of Reforms in Japan


Sapporo, capital of the island (prefecture) Hokkaidō, Japan, on the edge of the Ishikara plain, (2018) 1.97 million residents.

Sapporo is the Catholic bishopric. In addition to several private universities, there are four public universities, including the Hokkaidō University (founded in 1876), numerous museums (including the Ainu Museum) and the botanical garden of the Hokkaidō University. The city is a popular winter sports center and the economic center of the island. The most important branches of industry are the food, timber, printing and publishing industries. Otaru serves as the outer port on the Sea of ​​Japan. According to ethnicityology, Sapporo is an important Japanese railway junction connected to the island of Honshu through the submarine Seikan tunnel. The subway has existed since 1971.

The central axis of the city is the 105 m wide and 1.3 km long Ōdōri, the main street with the most important administrative buildings and public facilities, among others. the Hokkaidō Museum of Modern Art (1970) and the Nakamura Memorial Hospital (1980). For the annual snow festival in February, huge sculptures made of snow and ice are erected on the Ōdōri.

Founded in 1869, Sapporo was laid out according to plans by American architects. The city hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics.