Ellen Van Goethem specializes in the history and archaeology of the Asuka, Nara, and early Heian periods. Her primary focus is on Kanmu Tennō (r. 781–806), on the layout of Japan’s ancient capital cities (kyūto), and on inscribed wooden tablets (mokkan). She has also published on site divination (geomancy, fengshui, shijin sōō) in premodern East Asia and on the influence of fengshui thought on contemporary Japanese architecture. Her current research, an institutional and social history of Heian Jingū, builds upon her earlier work. In this project, she investigates issues related to the reconstruction of long-lost buildings, the deification of emperors, the presence of Chinese cosmological symbolism in Shinto shrines, and changes in perceptions of Heian Jingū since its founding in the late nineteenth century.
Ellen Van Goethem