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KyotoAn Urban History of Japan's Premodern Capital$
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Matthew Stavros

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838799

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838799.001.0001

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Inside/Outside, Public/Private

(p.75) 4 Rakuchū-Rakugai

Matthew Stavros

University of Hawai'i Press

Despite profound changes, throughout the medieval era, the capital elite continued to reinforce the notion that Kyoto was an exclusive domain where public authority reigned supreme. Chapter 4 explores the medieval discourse on capital exclusivity, which conveys an impulse to insulate the city from the growing influence of temples and warriors. In this context, precisely where Kyoto’s boundaries were drawn became an important question, and a difficult one to answer due to so much physical change. The dilemma helps explain the emergence of the notions of “Rakuchu-rakugai,” meaning “the capital and its surroundings.” I argue that the articulation of “Rakuchu-rakugai” in the 13th century was indicative of a powerful impulse among the traditional elite to reinforce notions of an inviolable realm where traditional state authority remained unchallenged. In the second part of chapter 4, I argue that the dichotomy of medieval power mapped neatly onto the “Rakuchu-rakugai” geographic binary. The most striking finding of this section shows how the most powerful figures in Kyoto’s premodern history consistently built and used Rakugai complexes as the bases from which to rule from behind the scenes. It was this trend that led to the creation of many of Kyoto’s most important architectural monuments, including Byodoin, Shirakawa, Kinkakuji, and Ginkakuji.

Keywords:   Rakuchu-rakugai, betsugyo, Byodoin, Shirakawa, Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji

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