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History of Japan



Tenpyō (天平 ?) was a Japanese era name (年号, nengō, ?, lit. "year name") after Jinki and before Tenpyō-kanpō. This period spanned the years from 729 through 749. The reigning emperor was Shōmu-tennō (聖武天皇 ?).[1]


Change of era

  • 729 Tenpyō gannen (天平元年 ?): The new era name was created to mark an event or series of events. The previous era ended and the new one commenced in Jinki 6, on the 5th day of the 8th month of 729.[2].

Events of the Tenpyō era

  • 740 (Tenpyō 12): The capital is moved to Kuni-kyō.[3]
  • 741 (Tenpyō 13): The Emperor calls for nationwide establishment of provincial temples. Provincial temples ("kokubunji") and provincial nunneries ("kokubunniji") were established throughout the country. [4] The more formal name for these "kokubunji" was "konkomyo-shitenno-gokoku no tera" (meaning "temples for the protection of the cournty by the four guardian deities of the golden light"). The more formal name for these "bokubunniji" was "hokke-metuzai no tera" (meaning "nunneries for eliminating sin by means of the Lotus Sutra").[4]
  • 743 (Tenpyō 15): The Emperor issues a rescript to build the Daibutsu (Great Buddha), later to be completed and placed in Tōdai-ji, Nara.[5]
  • 743 (Tenpyō 15): The law of Perpetual Ownership of Cultivated Lands (墾田永代私財法) issued
  • 744 (Tenpyō 16): Naniwa-kyō announced as capital.[6]
Ground-plan of Heijō-kyō (Nara)
  • 745 (Tenpyō 17): The capital returns to Heijō-kyō (Nara), construction of the Great Buddha resumes.[7]
  • 749 (Tenpyō 20): After a 25-year reign, Emperor Shōmu abdicates in favor of his daughter, Takano-hime, who will become Empress Kōken. After his abdication, Shomu took the tonsure, thus becoming the first retired emperor to become a Buddhist priest. Empress Komyo, following her husband’s example, also took holy vows in becoming a Buddhist nun.[8]


  1. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, p. 67-73; Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 272-273; Varley, H. Paul. Jinnō Shōtōki, pp. 141-143.
  2. ^ Brown, p. 273.
  3. ^ "恭仁宮跡の発掘調査 (Excavations on the Kuni Palace site, Kyoto Prefectural Board of Education)" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-03-14.  
  4. ^ a b Varley, pp. 141-142.
  5. ^ Varley, p. 141; Brown, p. 273.
  6. ^ Titsingh, p. 71.
  7. ^ Titsingh, p. 72.
  8. ^ Varley, p. 143.


External links

Tenpyō 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th 15th 16th 17th 18th 19th 20th 21st
Gregorian 729 730 731 732 733 734 735 736 737 738 739 740 741 742 743 744 745 746 747 748 749

Preceded by:

Era or nengō:

Succeeded by:



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