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Kyoto: An Urban History of Japan's Premodern Capital is now available from the University of Hawai'i Press.


Kyoto was Japan’s political and cultural capital for over a millennium before the dawn of the modern era. Throughout most of that period, it was home and ritual center to the emperor, the focal point of both warrior and sectarian politics, and the seat of the country’s most successful industries. It was also among the world’s largest cities. Despite being a place of both Japanese and world historical importance, the physical appearance of old city has remained largely unknown... until now. 

Kyoto: An Urban History of Japan's Premodern Capital
 explores Kyoto’s urban landscape across eight centuries, beginning with the city's foundation in 794 and concluding at the dawn of the early modern era in about 1600. Richly illustrated with original maps and diagrams, this panoramic examination of space and architecture narrates a history of Japan’s premodern capital in a way useful to students and scholars of institutional history, material culture, art history, religion, and urban planning. Japan specialists are introduced to new ways of thinking about old historical problems while readers interested more broadly in the architecture and urban planning of East Asia will benefit from a novel approach that synthesizes textual, pictorial, and archeological sources.

Matthew Stavros is a historian of early Japan at the University of Sydney and the editor of PMJS: Premodern Japanese Studies. He trained in architectural and urban history at Kyoto University and read history at Princeton University where he earned a PhD in East Asian Studies. He teaches on all periods of Japanese history and historiography, research methods in Asian Studies, classical Japanese, and more broadly on the histories and cultures of East Asia. Matthew is a native of Michigan and a citizen of Australia. For more on the author, visit