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News: Japan
The pits in the ground suggest the ancient structure in Asuka, Nara Prefecture, measured at least 19.2 meters west to east. Photo Credit: The Asahi Shimbun/Yoshinori Mizuno.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

Ancient banquet hall found in temple compound in Japan

Dating to the Asuka Period

An ancient structure found in Japan, dating to the Asuka Period, was probably part of a banquet hall compound. Evidence in “Nihon Shoki” (The Chronicles of Japan), an official history of Japan from the 8th century indicate the existence of such a structure for the nobility. The book includes a description of banquets held in the square in the late seventh century for people invited from remote areas in the kingdom.

The discovery was made in the Asukader Seiho site, west of the old Asukadera temple, which is thought to have been the first Buddhist temple founded in Japan. The building was probably built when Asuka served as the nation’s capital.

Researchers found pits for 16 wooden pillars in the northwest of the archaeological site dating probably to the seventh century. The pits are 90cm x 135cm and based on the location of the pillars researchers can estimate the original dimensions of the banquet hall, which probably measured at least 19.2m west to east and 4.8 metres south to north.

According to Kanekatsu Inokuma, professor emeritus of archaeology at Kyoto Tachibana University, in Nihon Shoki there are stories of banquets held for the Emishi and Hayato people, from today’s Tohoku and soutehrn Kyushu region correspondingly, with Sumo tournaments for entertainment.

NOTES