Kyoto/ Bibliography

There are several journals that I find particularly interesting and relevant to our research topic. Here I will discuss two pieces of them.

  • Japanese ‘Occidentalism’ and the Emergence of Postmodern Architecture

This article discussed how “the Japanese”, as cultural opposite to “the Western”, gave rise to the reflection on western modernism and the emergence of post modernism. The ” Japanese Space” somehow offered a new chance to develop an alternative to western modernism due to Japan’s rootedness in its traditional culture. As the ancient capital of the Japan, Kyoto was discussed widely as a representation of this “rooted”, static  nature.  It is mentioned in the article that in 1934, Bruno Taut emphasized the ‘‘timeless’’ spirit of historic Japanese architecture, such as the seventeenth-century Katsura Palace in Kyoto, which he saw as a predecessor of modernism. The Metabolists found new means of interpreting and extending tradition. The appeal of their ‘‘modern rootedness’’ was profound in the eyes of many Western critics because it appeared to simultaneously engage in a cosmopolitan discourse and connect to local culture.

  • Outside the glass case: The social life of urban heritage in Kyoto

This article discussed how the cultural heritage in Kyoto, more specifically, the  kyo-machiya is revitalized and developed into an important role in the social life of Kyoto. People always assume that the cultural heritage in a city will easily be petrified and obsolete. However in the case of Kyoto, the historic town houses (kyˆo-machiya)  have found a new appreciation in the competition of the modern high rise buildings. They are not fixed but allowed to evolve in the new era. Their history is well documented and not distorted. They were once close to distinction but they are brought back again. Their significance is recognized not only for its traditionality but other substantive aspects. More importantly, this is not a top down heritage propaganda  enforced by the government  but rather initiated by the people, the citizen.



BRUMANN, C. (2009) Outside the glass case: The social life of urban heritage in Kyoto. American Ethnologist. 36 (5). p.277-299.

URBAN, F. (2012) Japanese ‘Occidentalism’ and the Emergence of Postmodern Architecture. Journal of Architectural Education. p.89-102

2 Comments on “Kyoto/ Bibliography

  1. As the article mentioned, the kyo-machiya was nearly distinct in 19th century because of its weakness in fire prevention, shock-proof, also due to high price to maintain. According to survey in 2010 conducted in Kyoto, there was 10.5% of kyo-machiya remained empty among 47,735 of them. However, the Kyoto City Landscape Architecture Center actively promotes the cooperation among government, citizens and commercial/ business sectors, which successfully helped kyo-machiya merge into the new-era (20th century till now). Now kyo-machiya is mainly reprogrammed into restaurants, cafeterias, souvenir shops, hostels. Also, there is a foundation to provide financial aid to maintain these old town houses.

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