Nara was Japan's first permanent capital. The city was built in the year 710, and was originally known as Heijo. There had been no permanent capital previously because the custom had been to vacate the capital after the emperor's death. By the eighth century, however, there was an entrenched imperial bureaucracy, and moving the capital with each new emperor was no longer practical.
The city became the center of Japanese Buddhism, and many of the country's oldest Buddhist temples are located in Nara.
Nara is close to both Osaka and Kyoto. It is considered one of the cities of the Kansai district.
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