Monday, June 5, 2017

The Art of Japanese Architecture by Michiko and David Young

The Art of Japanese Architecture is a wonderful journey through the history of buildings in Japan. The book traces the origins of what we see today right back to pre-historic times. 

It's amazing to see influences traced back hundreds and even more than 1,000 years. It says something about the timeless nature of Japanese design.

The story is a lesson in Japanese culture - and how much it's always been about taking in other cultures and making them Japanese. The blending of the native Shinto and imported Buddhist architecture is the perfect example.  

I learned a few really interesting things too. Like that fact that the design of Shinto shrines started with rice storehouses. And in our era of conceptually planned everything, I was amazed to leant that the temple complex at Nikko had the leading artist of the day work out a complex colour scheme for the site - multiple buildings and paths climbing a mountain side. Never would have suspected this - sounds pretty modern for the 1600s.

The Art of Japanese Architecture also reinforced my view on eBooks of a certain kind - titles like this one that depend heavily on pictures and sidebar stories. I happened to have copies of the book and the ebook. I started electronically but at times the pictures and accompanying text just seemed out of place (and too small). Going to the printed copy the text and graphics were anchored on the pages - and the context was so much clearer.

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