Treib, M. and Herman, R. (2003) A Guide to The Gardens of Kyoto. 

Japan: Kodansha International

(p. 27 – p.53)

Making the Landscape of Kyoto

“The new government called for progress and industrialization. Although Kyoto was not affected to the same extent as Tokyo and other port cities, it too was touched by the winds of the new era. Some foreign styles intruded upon tradition, although new models, such as Murin-an by Ogawa Jihei, remained desirable. With time came streetcars, electricity, and even more ruinously, the automobile. Kyoto’s atypical grid plan make mechanized transportation somewhat easier than in the complex, near-radial structures of other cities, such as castle towns. But modernization also brought problems of pollution and crowding to the somewhat fragile buildings and gardens of historical Kyoto.”


Significant changes in terms of political power and cultural institution of Japan took place in 1867, where the new era, Meiji, began. The coronation of the Emperor Meiji allowed Tokyo to become the capital city of Japan. Tokyo’s great potential to provide economical support for the country, however, it cannot be compared with Kyoto – the essence of ancient Japanese culture and the beauty of buildings (such as machiya), gardens and temples, these are the things that make Kyoto irreplaceable. But the erosion of time, modernization and industrialization again brought changes to Kyoto, and now its tradition and the essence of Japanese culture seem to be contaminated? Or it could bring some certain positive impact, by combining the tradition and new elements from time to time?

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