Examining cultural production in the city of Kyoto in two periods of political transition, this book promises to be a major step forward in advancing our knowledge of Kyoto’s history and culture. Its chapters focus on two periods in Kyoto’s history in which the old capital was politically marginalized: the early Edo period, when the center of power shifted from the old imperial capital to the new warriors’ capital of Edo; and the Meiji period, when the imperial court itself was moved to the new modern center of Tokyo. The contributors argue that in both periods the response of Kyoto elites—emperors, courtiers, tea masters, municipal leaders, monks, and merchants—was artistic production and cultural revival.
As an artistic, cultural and historical study of Japan's most important historic city, this book will be invaluable to students and scholars of Japanese history, Asian history, the Edo and Meiji periods, art history, visual culture and cultural history.
This innovative and eloquent history of a transitional age in Japan reframes the relationship between culture and politics. Like the collection of meibutsu, or "famous objects," exchanging hostages, collecting heads, and commanding massive armies were part of a strategy Pitelka calls "spectacular accumulation," which profoundly affected the creation and character of Japan's early modern polity. Pitelka uses the notion of spectacular accumulation to contextualize the acquisition of "art" within a larger complex of practices aimed at establishing governmental authority, demonstrating military dominance, reifying hierarchy, and advertising wealth. He avoids the artificial distinction between cultural history and political history, arguing that the famed cultural efflorescence of these years was not subsidiary to the landscape of political conflict, but constitutive of it. Employing a wide range of thoroughly researched visual and material evidence, including letters, diaries, historical chronicles, and art, Pitelka links the increasing violence of civil and international war to the increasing importance of samurai social rituals and cultural practices. Moving from the Ashikaga palaces of Kyoto to the tea utensil collections of Ieyasu, from the exchange of military hostages to the gift-giving rituals of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Spectacular Accumulation traces Japanese military rulers' power plays over famous artworks as well as objectified human bodies.