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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Book Review: What is Japanese Architecture?

英文版 日本建築ガイド

What is Japanese Architecture

japanese-architectureTraditional Japanese architecture—ranging from Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, private residences, castles, to teahouses—ranks among the most beautiful in the world. From the great temples, such as Horyuji and Todaiji, to private homes, classic Japanese building is justly famous.

Beyond this, though, few people can distinguish Japanese architecture from Chinese or Korean or even Southeast Asian architecture. Things get more muddled when comparing two different types of Japanese buildings.

This text, however, goes a long way towards rectifying that problem. Construction, design, carpentry, and the background of Japanese architecture, from prehistory to the middle of the nineteenth century, are laid out concisely in this work.

In addition, there are more than 300 drawings that help the novice to have a better understanding of the buildings. Moreover, there is a section on religious structures, residences, castles, and places of entertainment.

The writers go over the details that distinguish buildings, and also discuss the historical conditions and the people that influenced them.

Japan's three historical capitals—Nara, Kyoto, Edo (Tokyo)—are discussed in terms of building style and technique. In addition, the following building types are highlighted: the mansions of the court nobility, the castles and residences of the samurai aristocracy, the homes of village elders, dwellings of the common people, educational institutions, and places of entertainment such as theaters, red-light districts, teahouses, and country villas.

A wonderful primer.

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