The Monumentalism of Hindu-Buddhist Kingship in Medieval Japan


Kyoto’s urban landscape was completely reimagined in the late fourteenth century through the ambitious building projects of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408). This talk examines these projects with the aim of identifying the guiding principles that inspired the warrior-aristocrat’s monumental aspirations. Recent discoveries about the locations, compositions, and functions of the two great temple-palace complexes of Muromachi and Kitayama reveal an unmistakable subscription to Hindu-Buddhist idioms of kingship. The findings make possible an expanded view of political plurality in medieval Japan and inspire compelling comparisons with the mandalized urban landscapes of Southeast Asia. 

Speaker Bio 

Matthew Stavros, PhD  The University of Sydney 

Matthew Stavros is an historian of Japan at the University of Sydney and former director of the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies. He is the author of Kyoto: An Urban History of Japan's Premodern Capital (University of Hawai'i Press, 2014) and over a dozen articles on Kyoto’s architectural and urban history. His research focuses primarily on the material culture of premodern Japan and eastern Asia, with particular interest in cities, buildings, and monuments. He trained in architectural and urban history at Kyoto University and read history at Princeton University where he earned a PhD. He teaches modern and classical Japanese language, Japanese history and historiography, and more broadly on the histories and cultures of East and Southeast Asia. 


A recording of this seminar is available here 


The ANU Japan Institute Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Japan Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 



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