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Dazaifu: The Distant Court

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Chapter Summary

As an administrative centre Dazaifu was second in importance only to Kyoto, and to be governor was the highest post in the realm outside the imperial seat at Heian. The importance of ceremony and diplomatic protocol were always paramount, with close attention paid to ensuring that the style and level of culture on display would reflect favourably on the Yamato state when these guests reported back to their own courts. A key element in the Dazaifu Headquarters' role as a centre of diplomatic exchange was the Tsukushi Lodge, a lavishly appointed guesthouse close to the shore of Hakata Bay. Diplomatic relations opened in the early seventh century when the Yamato court sent its first embassies to the Sui capital at Chang'an. The decline in Tang power and the increasingly lawless conditions in the seas off the Kyushu coast transformed Dazaifu's place in Heian Japan.

Keywords: Chang'an; Dazaifu; Hakata Bay; Heian Japan; Kyoto; Sui capital; Tang power; Tsukushi Lodge; Yamato state



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