Japan-ness in Architecture

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Overview

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 analyzes 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, reconstruction of the twelfth-century Todai-ji Temple, and the seventeenth-century Katsura Imperial Villa. He finds the periodic ritual relocation of Ise's precincts a counter to the West's concept of architectural permanence, and 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 born in moments of historic self-definition; the purified stylization — what Isozaki calls"Japanesquization" — lacks the energy of cultural transformation and reflects an island retrenchment in response to the pressure of other cultures.Combining historical survey, critical analysis, theoretical reflection, and autobiographical account, these essays, written over a period of twenty years, demonstrate Isozaki's standing as one of the world's leading architects and preeminent architectural thinkers.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Drawing on both his own extensive experience as a practicing architect and a broad grasp of world history, Arata Isozaki takes on the century-old debate over what is (or should be)'Japanese' about Japanese architecture. This self-reflective critique is fresh and timely, and in the process provides provocative arguments about the shape of all Japanese history."—Henry D.

Smith, II, Professor of Japanese History, Columbia University

"Iconoclastic and erudite, opinionated and insightful, wily and contrarian this exciting book should be widely read not only by architects, but by anyone interested in Japan.

Isozaki's essays are at once autobiographical and oracular; the collection, written over decades and discussing buildings spanning centuries, establishes his personal struggle with being Japanese in a global era as one that offers provocative insight into the culture of Japan yesterday, today, and tomorrow." Dana Buntrock , Department of Architecture, University of California,Berkeley

"Iconoclastic and erudite, opinionated and insightful, wily and contrarian — this exciting book should be widely read not only by architects, but by anyone interested in Japan.

Isozaki's essays are at once autobiographical and oracular; the collection, written over decades and discussing buildings spanning centuries, establishes his personal struggle with being Japanese in a global era as one that offers provocative insight into the culture of Japan yesterday, today, and tomorrow."—Dana Buntrock, Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262516051
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 2/25/2011
  • Pages: 376
  • Sales rank: 1,411,639
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Arata Isosaki is a leading Japanese architect. His works include the Museum of ContemporaryArt, Los Angeles, the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, the Volksbank Center am Postdamer Platz inBerlin, the Team Disney Building in Orlando, and the Tokyo University of Art and Design.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Toshiko Mori vii

Preface ix

Translator's Note xvii

Part I Japan-ness in Architecture 1

1 Japanese Taste and Its Recent Historical Construction 3

2 Western Structure versus Japanese Space 23

3 Yayoi and Jomon 33

4 Nature and Artifice 47

5 Ka (Hypothesis) and Hi (Spirit) 59

6 Ma (Interstice) and Rubble 81

7 Fall and Mimicry: A Case Study of the Year 1942 in Japan 101

Part II A Mimicry of Origin: Emperor Tenmu's Ise Jingu 117

8 The Problematic Called "Ise" 119

9 Identity over Time 133

10 Archetype of Veiling 147

11 Fabricated Origin: Ise and the Jinshin Disturbance 159

Part III Construction of the Pure Land (Jodo) Chogen's Rebuilding of Todai-ji 171

12 The Modern Fate of Pure Geometric Form 173

13 Chogen's Constructivism 179

14 The Five-Ring Pagoda in Historical Turmoil 183

15 Mandala and Site Plan at Jodo-ji 189

16 The Architectonics of the Jodo-do (Pure Land Pavilion) at Jodo-ji 195

17 Big Buddha Pavilion (Daibutsu-den) at Todai-ji 205

18 Chogen's Archi-vision 213

19 A Multifaceted Performance 217

20 Brunelleschi versus Chogen 223

21 Chogen/Daibutsu-yo and Eisai/Zenshu-yo 227

22 Three Kinds of Hierophany 231

23 Raigo Materialized 235

24 A Non-Japanesque Japanese Architecture 239

Part IV A Diagonal Strategy: Katsura as Envisioned by "Enshu Taste" 245

25 Katsura and Its Space of Ambiguity 247

26 Architectonic Polysemy 269

27 Authorship of Katsura: The Diagonal Line 291

Glossary of Names, Buildings, and Technical Terms 307

Notes 319

Index 341

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