Structures pointing to a second capital in Osaka unearthed

Archaeologists unearthed structures dating back more than 1000 years at a site of Higashi-Yuge ruins in Yao, Osaka Prefecture, Japan. These remains offer a hint on the existence of a second capital in Osaka, Yuge-no-miya,  that is known only through eighth-century chronicles.

Overview of the site (by Yao municipal board of education)

Excavations uncovered pits dug in the ground for massive wooden pillars, along with evidence of an extensive trench. The square-shaped pits measure between 60 centimetres and 80 cm. Experts believe that pillars 20-25 cm in diameter were sunk into the holes. The pits are lined up in the four points of the compass. The trench is about 10 meters long, 16-20 meters wide and 1 meter deep. Coupled with a 60-meter-long trench found nearby last summer, it is thought that they formed part of an artificial canal measuring some 600 or 700 meters in total length. It is believed that this other capital was purportedly built at the behest of female Emperor Shotoku, who ruled from 764 to 770 during the Nara Period (710-784 AD). She is known to history for favouring a Buddhist monk named Dokyo, who died in 772 having attained great power under her patronage. Dokyo won court favour through his devoted prayers for her health after she fell seriously ill, for which the emperor later promoted him to the highest rank among Buddhist monks. According to the researchers the recent discovery of the canal may help unravel the mystery. Earlier this year archaeologists unearthed the first evidence of a huge pagoda for Yugedera temple at the Higashi-Yuge site. The temple was built by Dokyo there before his fall from grace following the death of the emperor. Both Yuge-no-miya and Yugedera are mentioned in “Shoku Nihongi”, the imperially commissioned history text on the Nara Period.

(after Yao municipal board of education & Asahi Shimbun)

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