KASHIHARA, Nara -- The archaeological remains of what may have been the residence of a noble have been excavated at Fujiwarakyo, the ancient capital of Japan from 694 to 710, the prefectural institute announced on Oct. 2.
According to the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, the site is located about 2 kilometers away from what was the center of the ancient castle town. The size of the plot, which measures about 130 meters on each side, suggests that it may have belonged to a noble. To date, plots of this size -- granted to members of the aristocracy -- were all found close to the center of the ancient capital. The latest discovery suggests that nobles may have lived further from the capital's center than originally thought.
The remains were unearthed during excavation ahead of the construction of a new campus of Nara Medical University. Traces of what may be the main part of the residence measured about 13.5 meters from east to west and 5.4 meters from north to south. Signs of a gate, fence and annex were also found.
Hitoshi Hayashibe, a deputy director of the National Museum of Japanese History, said that based on the location of the plot, "there could have been no rule in Fujiwarakyo that the nobility were to be given lots for their residences near the imperial palace like in Heijokyo (the ancient capital after Fujiwarakyo)."
Some archaeologists, however, hold the view that the remains were not of a noble's residence. Tsuyoshi Ozawa, a professor at Mie University, paid attention to the structure believed to have been the gate and said, "I guess that it was a kind of government office."
(Japanese original by Hiroshi Fujiwara, Kashihara Resident Bureau)