Nara : The Capital of "Inner Peace"
"In Nara, as in Olympia, art is the reflection and the desired agent of orderly harmony in the world; it is called yin yang or cosmos. "
André Malraux in the obsidian head
On the side of a gently sloping valley, in the plains of Yamato, flourished the cradle of arts and letters. Nara has the charm of a provincial town, the sweet tranquility of a beautiful area. The foyer of Buddhism promoted, until the middle of the sixth century, the state religion of the archipelago, the capital of ancient times despite fires and vagaries of history, and preserved treasures. The ancient imperial seat is still fascinating.
The Empress Gemmei (661-721) established in 710 the first permanent capital of the empire of Japan, Heijô-kyo, the present-day Nara. The city is plotted on a chessboard layout, according to the principles of Chinese geomancy. Until 784, the imperial city was the cultural, political, spiritual and economic capital, shining in all its glory. The Buddhist "six sects" are said to have strongly influenced Nara emperors in their political decision making. The ascendancy of the religion reached such a point that it was decided to move to the end of the eighth century the capital to Heian-kyo, now known as Kyoto .
Birth of a style
Here, the expressionist style of forms shaped by master carvers influenced the island empire and always exalts the Buddha's teaching. At that time, Japanese artists eschewed Chinese and Korean styles. They created a powerful new expression.
Nara deserves more than a brief visit. Eight sites are listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. Among them, the temple Todaiji , erected for the country's peace and prosperity of the people, safeguarding the largest wooden building in the world, uplifting complex Kofukuji or the Shinto shrine Kasuga Taisha . The vast city park, the Nara Koen focuses on pagodas, temples and shrines officiating as the guardians of all spiritual memory. The evocative power of art bursts into a restrained radiance.
For even more Nara, we also surveyed the neighborhoods, for example, Naramachi, with its preserved old houses holding shops and restaurants, getting lost in a maze of alleys, almost by chance discover a shrine ... and enjoy the time.