Heian Jingū: Monument or Shinto Shrine?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The founding of Heian Jingū in 1895 is usually explained in very simple terms: it was established to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the move to the Heian capital and was, therefore, dedicated to the city’s founder, Kanmu Tennō. A closer look at the shrine’s founding story, however, reveals a much more complex account that illustrates the fits and starts of State Shintō in the third decade of the Meiji period. By disentangling the standard narrative of Heian Jingū’s founding, this article touches not only on doctrinal issues such as the deification of past emperors, but also on material aspects such as early attempts at reconstructing long-lost structures and the Meiji government’s creation of a set of plans that regulated the appearance of newly erected shrines. Doing so will help explain how the design of this major imperial shrine could deviate so significantly from the stipulated template and be so replete with Chinese influences at a time when the relationship between the two countries was one of outright hostility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
JournalJournal of Religion in Japan
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

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  • Activities

    • 5 Invited talk
    • 2 Oral presentation
    • 1 Participation in conference
    • 1 Visiting an external academic institution

    Commemoration and Deification: The Creation of Heian Jingū

    Ellen Van Goethem (Speaker)

    Feb 11 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    Monument, Shrine, Power Spot: Heian Jingū’s Multi-Layered Signification

    Ellen Van Goethem (Invited speaker)

    Nov 8 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    University of California at Santa Barbara

    Ellen Van Goethem (Visiting researcher)

    Apr 2018Mar 2019

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesVisiting an external academic institution

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