Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient Japan: The Tenmu Dynasty, 650–800, by Herman Ooms, is an ambitious and ground-breaking study that offers a new understanding of a formative stage in the development of the Japanese state. The late seventh and eighth centuries were a time of momentous change in Japan, much of it brought about by the short-lived Tenmu dynasty. Two new capital cities, a bureaucratic state led by an imperial ruler, and Chinese-style law codes were just a few of the innovations instituted by the new regime. Ooms presents both a wide-ranging and fine-grained examination of the power struggles, symbolic manipulations, new mythological constructs, and historical revisions that both defined and propelled these changes.
October 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3235-3 / $48.00 (CLOTH)