Naniwa-kyo Capital (a capital established in Osaka City of ancient Japan) (難波京)
Naniwa-kyo Capital was a capital established in Osaka City of ancient Japan. The palace was built during the Asuka period (the Zenki Naniwa no Miya Palace [the Early Naniwa no miya Palace]), however, the existence of the capital has not been confirmed. It is strongly thought that the Zenki Naniwa no Miya Palace functioned as the capital together with the Koki Naniwa no miya Palace (the Late Naniwa no Miya Palace) which was built during the Nara period.
It was mentioned in "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) that the King of Wa was living at the royal palace built in Naniwa, located at the eastern end of the Seto Inland Sea, which was a major traffic route in ancient Japan. It was also mentioned in "Nihonshoki" that Emperor Nintoku started the palace in Naniwa during the Kofun period (the Tumuli period), and Emperor Kotoku established Naniwa no Nagara no Toyosaki no Miya Palace in the Asuka period.
However, it is thought that these palaces were just the Emperors' residences (Miya) and were not the capitals which were the central cities of the state. The existence of the Naniwa no miya Palace in the Asuka period has been confirmed with the exploration by Tokutaro YAMANE and others who excavated the Daigokuden ruins; however, the existence of the capital and surrounding region, the center city, has not been confirmed.
In 726 during the early Nara period, Emperor Shomu ordered FUJIWARA no Umakai to build the Rikyu (an Imperial Villa) with tiled roofing at the Naniwa no miya. In 744, the transfer of the capital from Kuni-kyo Capital to the Naniwa no miya Palace was carried out. It is thought that the capital city surrounding Naniwa no miya, that is, Naniwa no kyo, was constructed around the same time. The excavation revealed that many ditches, which were stretching to the east, west, north, and south directions (Seihoi), existed in a wide area around the Koki Naniwa no Miya Palace in the Nara period and many structural sites were also placed at Seihoi. Moreover, many people were thought to live there because many types of earthenware, including pieces with ink writing, were excavated from ditches. Furthermore, there is a record ("Shoku Nihongi" [Chronicle of Japan Continued]) which indicated the supply of residential lands to government officials. These findings confirmed that the existence of Naniwa-kyo was almost certain.
Emperor Shomu returned to the Heijo-kyo capital in 745, the following year after the transfer of the capital; however, Naniwa-kyo prospered as the second capital city (Baito) and as a port for a Japanese envoy travelling to the Tang Dynasty China. After the capital was transferred to Nagaoka-kyo, Naniwa-kyo as the Baito was discontinued and the history of Naniwa-kyo was over following the establishment of Settsu Kokufu (provincial office of Settsu Province).