Conspicuous Construction: New Monuments to Imperial Lineage in Modern Kyoto


ACLS Fellowship Program


History of Art and Architecture


Founded in 794 as the imperial city, Kyoto was designed as the center of Japan, politically, economically, and culturally. The ensuing millennium witnessed the vacillation of imperial authority until a decisive break occurred around 1869 with the permanent relocation of the sitting emperor to Tokyo. The identity shift to ex-capital paradoxically motivated the city to newly prioritize imperial time and memory. This project examines the use of new architecture to remember a long history in modern Kyoto. Specifically, it concentrates on the city's creation of cultural monuments to celebrate imperial continuity in a century that physically disengaged the emperor from Kyoto but ideologically bound imperial history and credence to the city, anointing it the genius loci of Japanese high culture.