Monuments & Mandalas in Medieval Kyoto

The strategic creation of palaces and temples helped Ashikaga Yoshimitsu 足利義満 (1358-1408) infiltrate and eventually dominate warrior, imperial, and religious spheres of influence in Kyoto. More important, he leveraged the allusive power of architecture and urban planning to forge an anthropocosmic connection between himself and the divine. I suggest that Yoshimitsu—like his counterparts in the premodern Buddhist centers of Angkor, Bagan, and Borobudur—sought to transform Japan’s medieval capital into an expression of sacred geography, thereby advancing his aim of attaining a status synonymous with dharma king.

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