Nara, Nara

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Nara
奈良市
Core city
Nara City
From top left: Wakakusayama Mountain Burning, Great Buddha of Todai-ji, Yakushi-ji, Todai-ji, Kasuga Shrine and a deer in Nara Park
From top left: Wakakusayama Mountain Burning, Great Buddha of Todai-ji, Yakushi-ji, Todai-ji, Kasuga Shrine and a deer in Nara Park
Flag of Nara
Flag
Location of Nara in Nara Prefecture
Location of Nara in Nara Prefecture
Nara is located in Japan
Nara
Nara
Location in Japan
Coordinates: 34°41′N 135°48′E / 34.683°N 135.800°E / 34.683; 135.800Coordinates: 34°41′N 135°48′E / 34.683°N 135.800°E / 34.683; 135.800
Country Japan
Region Kansai
Prefecture Nara Prefecture
Government
 • Mayor Gen Nakagawa
Area
 • Total 276.84 km2 (106.89 sq mi)
Population (January 1, 2010)
 • Total 368,636
 • Density 1,331.58/km2 (3,448.8/sq mi)
Time zone Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)
Symbols
- Tree Quercus gilva
- Flower Nara yaezakura
- Bird Japanese Bush Warbler
Address 1-1-1 Nijō-ōji, Nara-shi, Nara-ken
630-8580
Phone number 0742-34-1111
Website www.city.nara.nara.jp

Nara (奈良市 Nara-shi?) is the capital city of Nara Prefecture located in the Kansai region of Japan. The city occupies the northern part of Nara Prefecture, directly bordering Kyoto Prefecture. Eight temples, shrines and ruins in Nara, specifically Tōdai-ji, Saidai-ji, Kōfuku-ji, Kasuga Shrine, Gangō-ji, Yakushi-ji, Tōshōdai-ji, and the Heijō Palace remain, together with Kasugayama Primeval Forest, collectively form "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara", a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Etymology

There used to be a variety of transcription for Nara by Heian period. 乃楽, 乃羅, 平, 平城, 名良, 奈良, 奈羅, 常, 那良, 那楽, 那羅, 楢, 諾良, 諾楽, 寧, 寧楽 and 儺羅.

Various theories have been suggested over the origin of the name Nara, and here are five relatively famous ones. The second theory by Yanagida is said to be most dominant one today.

  • There is the idea in the Nihon shoki that Nara was derived from narasu (to flatten). The book says, in September in the tenth year of Emperor Sujin, "then, leading selected soldiers, (the rebels) went forward, climbed Nara-yama (hills lying to the north of Heijō-kyō) and put them in order. Now the imperial forces gathered and flattened trees and plants. Therefore the mountain is called Nara-yama." Though the narrative itself is a common folk etymology and few researchers regard it as historical, this is still considerable as the oldest surviving testimony and the viewpoint from linguistic connection with the next theory by Yanagida which follows it.
  • The idea that Nara stands for flatland is also popular. The notable folklorist Kunio Yanagida stated in "The Study of Place Names".1 A terrain laying on relatively easy slope in hillside, which is called ta(h)ira in the Kanto and hae in the south of Kyushu, is called naru. Narasu (verb), narashi (adverb), and narushi (adjective) are its transformations. Actually transcription of Naru in kanji, such as "平", "阝 plus 平" or "坪", all involve 平 (flat), thus "the letters prove the meaning of the word." In addition to it, since 平地 (flatland) is pronounced naruji in 因幡志 (the Book of Inaba, 1795), Yanagida inferred that the word had been used as a common noun there until the modern period. Nara and Naro are its variants. And actually, the Nara was also written 平 or 平城 as shown above. The theory is adopted by Nihon Kokugo Daijiten (the largest dictionary of Japanese language), various dictionaries for place names,2 history books on Nara3 and the like today, and it is regarded as the most likely.
  • The idea that Nara is derived from nara (Japanese for "oak, Quercus spp.") is the next most common opinion. This idea was suggested by a linguist, Yoshida Togo.4 This noun for the plant can be seen as early as in Man'yōshū (7-8th century) and Harima-no-kuni Fudoki (715).
  • Then, there is the idea that Nara is a loan word from Korean nara (나라 : country, nation, kingdom). This idea was put forward by a linguist Matsuoka Shizuo.5 In the Old Korean language, however, almost nothing is known today besides some vocabularies. The first appearance of nara is as late as 15th century, such as in Yongbieocheonga(1447), Wolinseokbo (月印釋譜. 1459), Beophwagyeongeonhae (法華經諺解. 1463) 6 and there is no evidence that proves the word already existed as far back as the 7th century. These books used narah (나랗), an old form of nara in Korean, and its older form might be reconstructed *narak. Beckwith infers the Korean narak derives from the late Middle Old Chinese 壌 (*nrak, earth), from early *narak, and has no connection with Goguryoic and Japanese na.7 See also the next theory. Kusuhara also points out this hypothesis cannot account for the fact there are lots of places named Nara, Naru and Naro besides this Nara.8
  • There is the idea that Nara is akin to Tungusic na.9 In some Tunguisic languages such as Orok (and likely Goguryeo language), na means earth, land or the like. Also in Old Japanese, it is seen as in nawi furu, nawi yoru (earth shakes = earthquake).10

History

Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784, lending its name to the Nara period.

The temples of Nara, known collectively as the Nanto Shichi Daiji, remained powerful even beyond the move of the political capital to Heian-kyō in 794, thus giving Nara a synonym of Nanto (南都 "The Southern Capital"?).

In 2010, Nara celebrated the 1,300th anniversary of its ascension as Japan's imperial capital.11

Modern Nara

In the modern age, as the seat of the prefectural government, Nara has developed into a local center of commerce and government. The city was officially incorporated on February 1, 1898.

Geography

The city of Nara lies in the north end of Nara Prefecture, directly bordering itself to Kyoto Prefecture in its north side. The city is 22.22 kilometres (13.81 mi) from North to South, from East to West. As a result of the latest merger, effective April 1, 2005, that combined the villages of Tsuge and Tsukigase with the city of Nara, the city now borders Mie Prefecture directly to its east. The total area is 276.84 square kilometres (106.89 square miles).12

The downtown of Nara is on the east side of the ancient Heijō Palace site, occupying the northern part of what was called the Gekyō (外京), literally the outer capital area. Many of the public offices (e.g. the Municipal office, the Nara Prefectural government, the Nara Police headquarters, etc.) are located on Nijō-ōji (二条大路), while Nara branch offices of major nationwide banks are on Sanjō-ōji (三条大路), with both avenues running east-west.

The highest point in the city is at the peak of Kaigahira-yama at an altitude of 822.0 m (2,696.85 ft) (Tsugehayama-cho district), and the lowest is in Ikeda-cho district, with an altitude of 56.4 m (185.04 ft).13

Climate

The climate of Nara Prefecture is generally temperate, although there are notable differences between the north-western basin area and the rest of the prefecture which is more mountainous.

The basin area climate has an inland characteristic, as represented in the higher daily temperature variance, and the difference between summer and winter temperatures. Winter temperatures average approximately 3 to 5 °C (37 to 41 °F), and from 25 to 28 °C (77 to 82 °F) in the summer with highest readings reaching close to 35 °C (95 °F). There has not been a single year since 1990 with more than 10 days of snowfall recorded by Nara Local Meteorological Observatory.

The climate in the rest of the prefecture is that of higher elevations especially in the south, with −5 °C (23 °F) being the extreme minimum in winter. Heavy rainfall is often observed in summer. The annual accumulated rainfall totals as much as 3,000 to 5,000 mm (118.11 to 196.85 in), which is among the heaviest in Japan and indeed in the world outside the equatorial zone.

Spring and fall temperatures are temperate and comfortable. The mountainous region of Yoshino has been long popular for viewing cherry blossoms in the spring. In autumn, the southern mountains are also a popular destination for viewing fall foliage.

Climate data for Nara, Nara (1981~2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 18.9
(66)
23.9
(75)
25.9
(78.6)
30.5
(86.9)
32.7
(90.9)
35.8
(96.4)
37.3
(99.1)
39.3
(102.7)
36.9
(98.4)
32.0
(89.6)
26.8
(80.2)
21.7
(71.1)
39.3
(102.7)
Average high °C (°F) 8.7
(47.7)
9.6
(49.3)
13.4
(56.1)
19.8
(67.6)
24.1
(75.4)
27.2
(81)
30.8
(87.4)
32.6
(90.7)
28.2
(82.8)
22.2
(72)
16.5
(61.7)
11.4
(52.5)
20.4
(68.7)
Average low °C (°F) −0.2
(31.6)
−0.1
(31.8)
2.3
(36.1)
7.4
(45.3)
12.5
(54.5)
17.5
(63.5)
21.8
(71.2)
22.6
(72.7)
18.8
(65.8)
12.1
(53.8)
6.4
(43.5)
1.9
(35.4)
10.3
(50.5)
Record low °C (°F) −7
(19)
−7.8
(18)
−5
(23)
−2.4
(27.7)
1.4
(34.5)
7.3
(45.1)
12.2
(54)
12.8
(55)
7.7
(45.9)
2.3
(36.1)
−2.6
(27.3)
−6.6
(20.1)
−7.8
(18)
Precipitation mm (inches) 49.6
(1.953)
63.3
(2.492)
103.2
(4.063)
97.7
(3.846)
143.5
(5.65)
188.8
(7.433)
165.1
(6.5)
111.8
(4.402)
163.3
(6.429)
111.1
(4.374)
71.4
(2.811)
47.3
(1.862)
1,316.1
(51.815)
Snowfall cm (inches) 2
(0.8)
4
(1.6)
1
(0.4)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1
(0.4)
8
(3.1)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.5 mm) 7.9 7.9 12.3 10.6 11.3 12.9 11.8 8.6 11.5 9.8 8.3 7.7 120.6
Avg. snowy days 1.4 1.9 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 4.8
 % humidity 69 69 68 65 69 75 77 74 77 77 76 72 72.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 116.7 115.5 147.4 180.3 184.8 143.5 162.7 205.4 150.3 154.5 134.5 127.3 1,822.9
Source #1: Japan Meteorological Agency14
Source #2: Japan Meteorological Agency (records)15

Demographics

As of 2005, the city has an estimated population of 373,189 and a population density of 1,348 persons per km². There were 147,966 households residing in Nara. The highest concentration of both households and population, respectively about 46,000 and 125,000, is found along the newer bedtown districts, along the Kintetsu line connecting to Osaka. There were about 3,000 registered foreigners in the city, of which Koreans and Chinese are the two largest groups with about 1,200 and 800 people respectively. And about 1,200 deer in Nara in 2005.1213

Landmarks

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii, iv, vi
Reference 870
UNESCO region Asia-Pacific
Inscription history
Inscription 1998 (22nd Session)

Deer in Nara

Deer roaming in Nara Park in autumn.

According to the legendary history of Kasuga Shrine, a mythological god Takemikazuchi arrived in Nara on a white deer to guard the newly built capital of Heijō-kyō. Since then the deer have been regarded as heavenly animals, protecting the city and the country.16

Tame Sika Deer roam through the town, especially in Nara Park. Snack vendors sell "shika sembei" (deer biscuits) to visitors so they can feed the deer.

Education

As of 2005, there are 16 high schools and 6 universities located in the city of Nara.

Universities

Nara Women's University is one of only two national women's universities in Japan.

Primary and secondary education

Public schools

Public elementary and junior high schools are operated by the city of Nara.

Public high schools are operated by the Nara Prefecture.

Private schools

Private high schools in Nara include the Todaiji Gakuen, a private school founded by the temple in 1926.

International relations

Twin towns/sister cities

Nara, according to its own official record, has three sister cities in Japan and six sister cities overseas.1718

In Japan

Outside Japan

References

  1. ^ 柳田国男 YANAGIDA Kunio (1936), 『地名の研究』 (The Study of Place Names), 古今書院, pp.217-219
  2. ^ e.g. 楠原佑介 KUSUHARA Yūsuke (1981), 『古代地名語源辞典』 (The Dictionary of Ancient Place Name Etymology), 東京堂出版.
  3. ^ e.g. 斎藤建夫 編 SAITŌ Tateo ed. (1997), 『郷土資料事典 : ふるさとの文化遺産. 29(奈良県) 』 (The Dictionary of Native Place Data. Vol. 29. Nara Prefecture.), 人文社.(1997),
  4. ^ 吉田東伍 YOSHIDA Tōgo (1907), 『大日本地名辞書 上巻』 (The Dictionary of Place Names in the Great Japan, Fuzambo, Vol.1), 冨山房, pp.190-191.
  5. ^ 松岡静雄 編 MATSUOKA Shizuo ed. (1929), 『日本古語大辞典』 (The Great Dictionary of Old Japanese), 刀江書院, p.955. Previous to Matsuoka, KANAZAWA Shôzaburô (1903) pointed out the possibility of influence from Korea. Both were, however, comparing Old Japanese to Modern Korean, not Old Korean.
  6. ^ 劉昌惇 (1964), 李朝語辭典 (The Dictionary of Words in the Joseon Dynasty), 延世大学校出版部.
  7. ^ Beckwith (2007): Koguryo, the Language of Japan's Continental Relatives, Brill Academic Publishers, 2004. 2nd ed., 2007. p.176
  8. ^ Kusuhara (1981)
  9. ^ One of the earliest assumption for this is seen in 奈良市 編 Nara ed. (1937), 『奈良市史』 (The History of Nara, Nara)., 奈良市.
  10. ^ 宮腰賢ほか編 MIYAKOSHI Masaru et al. ed. (2011), 『全訳古語辞典』 (The Dictionary of Old Japanese with Complete Translation) 第4版, 旺文社.
  11. ^ Tabuchi, Hiroko (2010-01-03). "Happy 1,300th to Nara, Japan". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  12. ^ a b "City Profile of Nara". Nara City. 2007-04-02. Retrieved 2007-04-02.  For more details and latest figures, navigate to the equivalent Japanese page at the official homepage [1]
  13. ^ a b "奈良市統計書「統計なら」平成17年版(2005年版)(Nara City Statistics, Year 2005 Edition)" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-04-02. 
  14. ^ "平年値(年・月ごとの値)". Japan Meteorological Agency. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  15. ^ "観測史上1~10位の値(年間を通じての値)". Japan Meteorological Agency. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  16. ^ "奈良のシカの歴史 (The history of deers in Nara)" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-04-02. 
  17. ^ http://www.city.nara.nara.jp/b_hp/english/kokon/kuryu/index.htm
  18. ^ Vladimir, Russia recognizes Nara as one of its sister cities, while Nara does not.Sister cities of Vladimir
  19. ^ "Canberra's international relationships - Canberra's international relationships". www.cmd.act.gov.au. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 

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