The seminar's members, representing the full range of academic disciplines that bear upon the study of Japan and including Japan specialists from government, business, and the nonprofit sectors, meet regularly to discuss scholarly papers on all aspects of modern Japan, from history, literature, art, and the performing arts to politics, economics, social issues, and the US-Japan bilateral relationship.

Seminar: #445

Founded: 1960

Apr 9, 2008

May 9
Herman Ooms (UCLA)

Multiple Choice: Justifications for Rulership in the Tenmu dynasty, 650-750.

Political ideology in ancient Japan was not limited to divine imperial ancestry as spelled out in the "Kojiki" and "Nihon shoki". Mytho-history constituted only one phase or layer of multiple ways of symbolizing Yamato's new ruling authority; and vertical sacralization was only half of its message. Posthumous names for rulers also reveal alternate, patterned ways in which individual reigns were conceived and represented. Daoist symbols were used; some rulers presented themselves as servants of the Buddha. Finally, the new palace-cities of Fujiwara-kyo - and Heijo-kyo - were designed to give spatial expression to the nature of politico-religious rule. This paper analyzes the plurality of these symbolics centered on the Tenmu dynasty.
Discussant: Davie Lurie (Columbia)