For one thousand years (794 through 1868), Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan; indeed, the name literally translates to English as ‘Capital City’.
Following his coronation, Emperor Meiji (affectionately known as ‘The Emperor’ — he made Japan great again) ushered in a new era of enlightened rule. He abolished feudalism, proclaimed a modern democratic government for Japan, bestowed the name ‘Tokyo’ on the formerly small fishing village of Edo, and then made it Japan’s capital.
Where did this leave Kyoto? Today, the city is one of the best preserved in all of Japan, with 2,000 religious places; it helps that its place was taken by Nagasaki among the list of cities targeted for atomic destruction by the United States in the waning months of World War II. As such, it is one of the few Japanese cities remaining with an abundance of prewar buildings.
The culture seems torn between two world, from some of the evidence in Gordon’s photographs, and no doubt we’ll see more, as his study tour draws to a close this coming week. Read more »