Recently, Kyoto has become one of the most popular touristic destination in Asia, attracting each year a growing number of visitors. This development has a double-faced consequence: greater efforts for the preservation of major historical sites, and at the same time a faster demolition of typical cityscapes and traditional neighborhoods not strictly tied to touristic routes. The aim seems to revert large portions of the urban space into more profitable and market-oriented facilities: hotels, parking lots, luxury apartments. Drawing both on previous theories from the critical heritage studies field, especially those that re-evaluate the necessity of forgetting and destroying as an unavoidable part of the heritagization process itself, and both on the original idea of “textual heritage” proposed by the author, this paper aims to reflect on practices of valorization, demolition and “rewriting” of both the urban spaces of Kyoto, from an interdisciplinary point of view that sees the city as a textual palimpsest embodying past memories and cultural practices. Is it possible to compare processes of collation and reconstruction of premodern texts and manuscripts – for example a modern critical edition of The Tale of Genji – with the recover of historic vernacular architectures in a city like Kyoto? How the expertise of philologists in seeking and reconstructing the textual archetype may inform the way citizenship of historical cities is felt, negotiated, and reconstructed in the present? Can the concept of Classics contribute to imagining new ways to preserve historical cities in the 21th century?


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