This essay examines the relations between two distinctive photographic projects in prewar Japan: the photographic records of the imperial progresses from 1872 to 1886 and the photographic commemoration of the emperor’s sacred trace during the subsequent half-century. Together, these photographic projects re-present and re-make local landscapes through the mediation of the emperor’s sacred gaze, thereby providing a ground for new knowledge and political subjectivity in early twentieth-century Japan.

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