It's hard playing second fiddle when you used to be first chair. Just ask Nara, Kyoto's underpraised southern neighbor.

In 710, Japan's seat of power settled in Nara, on the plains of the Yamato Province. While previous centuries had seen the capital move after the death of each emperor, Nara was to be the permanent place from which Japan's rulers governed their domain.

Over the years, Nara's political and religious clout grew, and the area became populated with powerful Buddhist temples and monasteries. In 794, however, the capital city decamped once more. This time it moved just up the road, to Kyoto, where it would stay for 1,000 years, gradually overshadowing the former glory of its neighbor.