Talk:List of National Treasures of Japan (residences)

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Explanation / Clarification needed[edit]

When reading this article, it is rather striking how skewed the statistical distribution of these "National Treasures" is, with no explanation. Say for example, if North America had

City National Treasures
New York 17
Washington, DC 2
Toronto 1
Boston 1

it would seem rather weird and biased, and thus in need of explanation. Is there some reason for a governmental bias towards Kyoto? Or are there actually just no notable residences anywhere else (i.e., Kyoto and surrounding area really is where all the famous residences were, and no important or significant residences existed in the rest of the country)? I find this hard to understand, and clarification in the article would be good, if not a necessity. Do people knowledgeable in this subject area (i.e., not me) have any comments?

Peace and Passion   ("I'm listening....") 19:15, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

Some ideas:

  1. Kyoto was the capital and seat of the imperial court from 794 until 1868. From what I understand, the organization of the state was very centralized.
  2. Another factor is that Kyoto, unlike other cities in Japan, was spared major destruction by earthquake, fire or war. Interestingly, the Ōnin War, the last major incident in Kyoto occured before any of the residences in the list were constructed.
  3. Lastly, the way the National Treasures are inscribed in the list (or database) is not always consistent. Sometimes properties located in one place are joined in one list entry. In the shrine list for instance, rooms located in the same building are joined into one entry. For the residences however some entries consist of just a room. The Ninomaru Palace is a contiguous structure comprising many of these room-only-entries. If they had used the same reasoning as for the shrines, there would be just one entry "Ninomaru Palace" instead of eight. Possibly also some of the rooms at Nishi Hongan-ji are located in one building which would reduce the number of entries for Kyoto even more.

To summarize, yes, Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan. Nara, capital from 710 to 794, is another one but has older structures, mainly temples from the 8th century and before. The palace in Nara is largely gone, so no residences to nominate there. Possibly the custom to have residential rooms in temples (Nishi Honganji, Ginkaku-ji, Mii-dera, ...) developed later, when the Nara temples had lost their influence. By the way, the Agency responsible for the designation is located in Tokyo, so I would expect rather a Tokyo focus than a focus for Kyoto. Also many of the other National Treasure lists have entries concentrated in the Kansai region in which both, Kyoto and Nara are located.

I agree that the article needs to be improved. Also the remarks column is a bit empty at the moment. Unfortunately I don't have much time at the moment and am busy with getting List of National Treasures of Japan (sculptures) up to featured list level and there is still one list (the sword list) to be created. If you are interested in Japanese art, architecture or history, you might want to help out here. I'd be very happy if you did :-) bamse (talk) 21:50, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

Damn, that was a quick, thorough, and well-thought-out response. I'm impressed. Thanks. Too bad it would probably be really difficult to find reliable sources synthesizing the list and it's "bias" (I don't mean it as a "negative" bias, but rather a "historically-necessary" bias) as aptly as you have done above.
Peace and Passion   ("I'm listening....") 02:35, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
I corrected the number of treasures by checking the registration numbers. All structures of Ninomaru Palace are connected and listed with the same registration number. Therefore I changed the count for Ninomaru Palace from "8" to "1". bamse (talk) 11:52, 18 November 2009 (UTC)