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The Nara period (奈良時代, Nara jidai) of the history of Japan covers the years from AD 710 to 794.[1] Empress Genmei established the capital of Heijō-kyō (present-day Nara). Except for a five-year period (740–745), when the capital was briefly moved again, it remained the capital of Japanese civilization until Emperor Kanmu established a new capital, Nagaoka-kyō, in 784, before moving to Heian-kyō, modern Kyoto, a decade later in 794.

Japanese society during this period was predominately agricultural and centered on village life. Most of the villagers followed Shintoism, a religion based on the worship of natural and ancestral spirits named kami.

The capital at Nara was modeled after Chang'an, the capital city of the Tang dynasty.[2] In many other ways, the Japanese upper classes patterned themselves after the Chinese, including adopting the Chinese writing system, Chinese fashion, and a Chinese version of Buddhism.