Japan-ness in Architecture
One of Japan's leading architects examines notions of Japan-ness as exemplified by key events in Japanese architectural history from the seventh to the twentieth century; essays on buildings and their cultural context. Japanese architect Arata Isozaki sees buildings not as dead objects but as events that encompass the social and historical context - not to be defined forever by their everlasting materiality but as texts to be interpreted and reread continually. In Japan-ness in Architecture he identifies what is essentially Japanese in architecture from the seventh to the twentieth century. In the opening essay, Isozaki analyses the struggles of modern Japanese architects, including himself, to create something uniquely Japanese out of modernity. He then circles back in history to find what he calls Japan-ness in the seventh-century Ise shrine, the twelfth-century Todai-ji Temple and its sixteenth-century reconstruction, and the seventeenth-century Katsura Imperial Villa. the West's concept of architectural permanence and in the repetition of the ritual an alternative to modernity's anxious quest for origins. He traces the constructive power of the Todai-ji Temple to the vision of the director of its reconstruction, the monk Chogen, whose imaginative power he sees as corresponding to the revolutionary turmoil of the times. The Katsura Imperial Villa, with its chimerical spaces, achieved its own Japan-ness as it reinvented the traditional shoin style. And yet, writes Isozaki, what others consider to be the Japanese aesthetic is often the opposite of that essential Japan-ness that was born in moments of historic self-definition; the purified stylisation - what Isozaki calls Japanesquisation - lacks the energy of cultural transformation and reflects an island retrenchment in response to the pressure of other cultures. autobiographical account, these essays, written over a period of twenty years, demonstrate Isozaki's standing as one of the world's leading architects and pre-eminent architectural thinkers.
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aesthetic Amitabha ancient Japanese Arata Isozaki archi architects Big Buddha Bruno Taut Buddhist building century Chinese Chogen columns composition concept construction context culture Daibutsu-den daibutsu-yo decorative discourse Edo period elements Emperor Tenmu Empress Jito Enshu Enshu-gonomi essay expressed external gaze garden gods Greater East Asia hall Hamaguchi Hiroshima Horyu-ji imperial Ise Jingu Ise Shrine Ise's Ishimoto Japan Japanese architecture Japanese taste Japanese tradition Jinja Jodo-do Jodo-ji Jomon Katsura Imperial Villa Katsura Villa Kenchiku Kenzo Tange Ko-shoin Kojiki Kyoto later mandala Meiji modernist Nandai-mon Nara nation nature Nihon origin Palace Pavilion plaza pond precinct problematic of Japan-ness Pure Land rebuilding reconstruction ritual roof sacred samurai sense Shin-goten shinden-zukuri shogunate shoin shoin-zukuri space stone structure Sung Sutemi Horiguchi Tange's Taut's tea ceremony Teahouse tearoom tecture teikan style temple tenno tion Todai-ji Tokyo Trans ture urban wayo wayo-ka Western Yasuhiro Ishimoto