Japan’s first official capitol was located at Nara (Heijo) about the year 710. It was based upon the Chinese capitol design of Ch’ang-an as dictated by Confucian order in a grid system with broad avenues and main gates at the cardinal points of the compass. The Japanese took what they needed to know from a book.
This “Nara” period witnessed the height of Sinification with the importation of ideals on laws, economic and political structures as well as cultural advances in medicine as well as the trades. Religion too was greatly impacted.
Prior to this time, there was no capitol per se and nobles lived within their own domains. These new institutions promised order, secured the dynastic family’s place under heaven and would eventually pave the way for vassals to emerge as the warrior class. In other words this was a much bigger deal than … “if they build it people will come…” However, there was a small problem. The Chinese had purposely left out some important details about the city’s layout. Nara therefore due to a myriad of problems including water and sewer drainage was relocated to Kyoto in good part because the “gokui” or secret teachings were not transmitted and understood at time of construction dooming the effort before it was even started.
Historians discussed the needs to move because of other concerns but Nara was not habitable and would soon be eclipsed with the move to Kyoto.