Monument, Shrine, Power Spot: Heian Jingū’s Multi-Layered Signification

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


In 1895, Heian Jingū was festively inaugurated as a testimony to Kyoto’s bygone days as the nation’s capital. A close look at its founding story reveals a complex narrative that touches not only on doctrinal issues such as the unprecedented deification of past emperors, but also on material aspects such as the government’s creation of a blueprint for new shrines. Moreover, it helps explain how a major imperial shrine (kanpei taisha) in the emerging Japanese nation state could be so replete with Chinese symbolism and why in later years at least one of its designers expressed great disappointment at the end result. Finally, it appears that today exactly those China-derived elements play a crucial role in Heian Jingū’s popularity.
PeriodNov 8 2018
Held atColumbia University, United States
Degree of RecognitionInternational