The Nara Period in Japanese History begins in 710 when the capital was moved to Heijo-kyo (modern Nara) and ends in 794 when the capital moved to Heian-kyo (modern Kyoto).

The Nara Period is notable for an increasing adoption of Chinese ideas, culture, and technology. Chinese Confucian ideals were imitated in the establishment of the ritsuryo system of bureaucratic governance. The crude adaptation of the Chinese writing system to the Japanese spoken vernacular led to the composition of the earliest written texts in Japanese History, the Kojiki (712) and the Nihon Shoki (720), and contact with Chinese culture inspired a flowering of the art and liturature known as the Tempyo culture. Japanese poetry appeared for the first time in the Manyoshu anthology (759).

Chinese-style Buddhism established enduring roots as well, gaining official state recognition under Emperor Shomu, who ordered Buddhist temples constructed in every province. The spectacular opening ceremony for Shomu's great temple at Todaiji attracted 10,000 Buddhist priests and functionaries from as far away as India, Thailand, and Afghanistan. And in 788, Buddhist preacher Saicho established the great Enryakuji temple at Mount Hiei, which would eventually become the most powerful temple in Japan.

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