Switching from the “ideal” to the “real,” chapter 2 explores several key ways the classical urban model either failed to be realized or how, even in cases where it was, the material results were often short-lived. For example, not only does it appear that Heian-kyo’s characteristic urban grid was not finished as planned, the way its blocks were defined and used in practice departed significantly from the original, ultimately unrealistic, top-down planning scheme. I also show how evolving politics, financial problems, and natural disasters conspired to almost entirely eviscerate the primary venues of imperial government by as early as the 11th century. The imperial palace, government bureaus, and diplomatic compounds disappeared at an alarming rate while the entire western half of the city was converted into farm land. Finally, I discuss how elite palaces never lived up to their structural and functional ideals as the prescribed venues of ritualized statecraft.
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