Kyoto: A Cultural History



Kyoto: A Cultural History
John Dougill
242pp



Just a short review this time, and a bit of a break from straight J-lit to take a look at a historical/cultural/religious guide to Kyoto

A very good overview of history and culture in the former long running capital of Japan, though certainly not a Guide Book, so do not open it expecting details of all the sites opening and closing times.

Instead, Dougill gives us a sample of numerous parts of the city, often connecting history and culture to place. This means that a reader can position themselves into enjoying a much more interactive/intellectual tour, in which they can truly enjoy the things they see. Nijo Castle's beauty is only amplified by knowing when and why it was built and what took place there, and this is true with the endless places that people rush through everyday in Kyoto. 

The style bounces a bit between authoritative and personal... but not too much to be bothersome, and the personal touches may actually allow for more of a connection to anyone not yet familiar with the city. Those already knowledgable will be able to add, or at the very least, organize a lot of insightful information about how the capital came to be. As someone who has spent a combined few months walking/cycling the sites, this book gave me at least a few, "Oh, yeah, of course that's the reason" moments, as I enjoyed the information within. 

Recommended especially for those who have gotten through the Kyoto chapter of their guide book, or have some knowledge of either Kyoto, Japanese Religion, or its history, as this isn't quite for a pure beginner, but works better as a guide to putting things in a straight line in your head. If all this information were new, that might be a big step. 

Again, recommended and I hope everyone can read it and experience its topics first hand.




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