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About expanding the territory in the 8th century

As the national governmental system was established, the Imperial Court gained stable political power. Therefore, they started to make an effort to expand the territory.
In the 8th century, the Court began to subdue the northern part of the main island of Japan’s archipelago where native people called Emishi lived.
Along the Japan sea side, Dewa-no-Kuni was established and Akita castle was built, while on the Pacific Ocean side, Mutsu-no-Kuni was established and Taga castle was built. Each castle was used as a political center and a military base against the Emishi.   


About economy in the 8th century

The Court prompted expansion farmland by ordering the creation of iron farming tools and improving the irrigation system.
In addition, mining gold and copper was started. Moreover, the technology of sericulture, raising silkwarms, and weaving luxury cloth was spread by the government experts.
These were useful for increasing productivity and government's tax revenue.


About administrative districts "Koku-fu" in the 8th century

In those days, the whole country was divided into about 60 Koku.
The central city in each Koku was called the Koku-fu, where many buildings for politics, ceremonies, offices and officer’s houses were built.
Each Koku-fu became a political and economic center in the region.
In addition, in the middle of the 8th century, Kokubunji-temple which was a branch of Todaiji-temple was built near each Koku-fu, and then it became a cultural center as well.


About roads in the 8th century

In those days, the whole country was divided into the 8 administrative districts. One of these was called Kinai which was around Kyoto.

The other 7 districts were called Do, such as Tokai-do, Sanyo-do. Government roads from the capital to the 7 districts were maintained and station offices were built every 16 kilometers on these roads.

The offices kept horses for use by government messengers, who could also use these offices as hotels. In each district, roads connecting to local stations were built. These roads created transportation network.


About new coins in the 8th century

In 708 AD, Musashi province, today's Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa area, sent copper as a tribute to the Court.

Then the Court minted copper coins and silver coins called WadoKaichin.
It was the second time to mint coins in Japan's history.
The Court encouraged people to use coins, but only people around the capital used the coins and most people in other areas traded by bartering crops and cloth.
The coins were mainly used as payment for building the capital.


About Heijo-kyo

In 710 AD, the Genmei Emperor moved the capital from Fujiwara in Kyoto prefecture to the northern Nara basin.  The new capital was called Heijyo-kyo. And the period from 710 AD to 793 AD is called the Nara period.
The capital’s structure is called the jobo-system. Roads in the city run from east to west and north to south created a grid pattern.
The city was divided into two parts by a main road running through north to south in the center of the city. The road was called Suzaku-Oji.
The east area of the road was named Sa-kyo which meant left side of the capital and the west area was named U-kyo which meant right side of the capital.
The system was learned from the structure of Changan which was the capital of Tang China.
The palace called Heijyo-kyu was located in the north central area of the city. In the palace, there were several buildings. One of them was a building called Dairi which was the Emperor's living place and another buildings called Chodo-in and Daikyoku-den were used as political offices and ceremonial places.
About 100,000 people lived in the city. There were houses for nobles, officers and commoners in the city. In addition, the city contained several major temples such as Gangoji-temple Kofukuji-temple and Todaiji-temple.
Government-run markets were established in the city and these markets were managed by public officers called Ichi-no-sukasa. People exchanged local products such as crops, vegetables and ceramics in the markets. Public officers sold their wage in-kind, such as threads and cloth and bought things they needed in the markets.


About the envoy to the Tang Dynasty

In 618 AD, China became unified under "the Tang Dynasty" which replaced "the Sui Dynasty".
"Tang Dynasty" established a big Empire and governed a vast portion of Asia, so it influenced neighboring areas.
The communication between "the Tang Dynasty" and western Asia progressed, therefore the capital of "theTang Dynasty", Changan present day Xian, developed an international culture.
In the 8th century, a delegation of Japanese envoys to the Tang Dynasty was dispatched about once every 20 years.
The envoys included ambassadors, students and scholar monks.
At the peak, one delegation had about 500 members and they sailed to China in 4 ships.  
However, ships frequently failed to reach their destination, because the technology of ship-building and sailing had not yet matured.
The envoys introduced advanced political systems and international culture into Japan.   
Some envoys such as Kibi-no-Makibi, and Genbo were given important posts by the Shomu Emperor and obtained strong influence in the Imperial Court.
On the other hand, another envoy Abe-no-Nakamaro became trusted by Tang's Emperor that he became a high ranking officer in the Tang Dynasty.
He was eager to return to Japan, but his wish was never realized. He passed away in Tang China.
In the late 9th century, the envoy was cancelled because Michizane Sugawara who was a high ranking officer and a great scholar suggested canceling it.
He judged that the dangerous trips to the Dynasty no longer yielded enough value, because the Tang Dynasty was already declining by the time.


About the class system in the 8th century

Common people were divided into two classes, ordinary people and lowly people.
The lowly people were further divided into two groups.
One group belonged to the government and the other group belonged to temples or local lords.
Percentages of the lowly people were several percent, but some big temples and wealthy local lords had hundreds of lowly people.


About compulsory military service in the 8th century

One out of three or four adult males would be drafted for national military service.

These men received military training in their region, and then they worked as security guards for the governmental offices or coast guards at Kyusyu for three years.

The military service was very heavy burden for people, because they basically had to pay their own expenses such as weapons, uniforms and food.

Moreover their family lost a major contributor to their faming forces.

«About taxes in the 8th century

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