Extensively researched with ample references to premodern primary sources, to the secondary literature published in Japanese and other languages, and to the latest archaeological discoveries, Ellen Van Goethem's first book should have been positioned as a pathbreaking study on this “phantom capital” (p. 1), located just south of the Heian capital (Kyoto) and used between 784 and 794 by Emperor Kanmu (r. 781–806). But maybe because the author had so much information to convey, the book quickly unravels, as it lacks a sharply focused, compelling argument that drives the narrative from start to finish. As for the treatment of the research, the author does not offer a critical, in-depth interpretation of her evidence. I wish that Van Goethem could have indicated what she thought was most significant, instead of listing a series of important developments relating to a particular topic in a manner that can be, at times, encyclopedic. But...
Skip Nav Destination
Book Review| May 01 2009
Nagaoka: Japan's Forgotten Capital
Nagaoka: Japan's Forgotten Capital. By Ellen Van Goethem.
368pp. $170.00 (cloth).
Journal of Asian Studies (2009) 68 (2): 642–644.
Yoko Hsueh Shirai; Nagaoka: Japan's Forgotten Capital. Journal of Asian Studies 1 May 2009; 68 (2): 642–644. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S002191180900103X
Download citation file: