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September 2018


About moving the capital in the late 8th century

The Konin Emperor, who ascended the throne in 770, tried to improve the Imperial government system, by simplifying the procedures for administration and finance, and by decreasing the burden on common people.
In 781, the Kanmu Emperor ascended the throne, his father was the Konin Emperor.
The Kanmu Emperor took over the Konin Emperor's political reformation and also tried to decrease the power of Buddhist monks, because they often interfered with politics.
In order to promote the reformation and concentrate power to the Emperor, he moved the capital to Nagaoka in Yamashiro, suburb of today’s Kyoto, in 784.
However, the Kanmu Emperor's right-hand man, Tanetsugu Fujiwara, who was a leader of establishing the capital in Nagaoka, was assassinated in 785.
Prince Sawara, who was a younger brother of the Kanmu Emperor, was forced to take responsibility for the assassination.
The prince was stripped of his claim to the throne and expelled from the Imperial Court. He committed suicide on the way to Awaji-island where he was banished.
In addition, old families such as Otomo and Saeki were also forced to take responsibility for the assassination.
People believe that the prince and these old families were victims of a political conspiracy by the Fujiwara family, because the assassination occurred when the Fujiwara family was trying to reinforce their power.
After the incident, many bad things happened, for example, the Kanmu Emperor's mother passed-away , the Kanmu Emperor's son got a disease and an epidemic of disease broke out.
People said that those tragedies were caused by the angry ghost of Prince Sawara. Due to the social instability, the construction of the capital in Nagaoka was very slow.
In 794, the Kanmu Emperor moved the capital to Kyoto.

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