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Japanese Architecture

I wanted to go to Japan because I liked the idea of walking in buildings that are older than my country.

I wanted to see a country that was shaped before the Industrial Revolution.
Before man became convinced that he could overcome anything that nature threw at him.

Back when man adapted his life to the world, rather than the world to his life.

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Matsumoto-jo, finished in 1597

Of course Japan is now one of the countries that drives mans' assault on nature.  That is part of what makes Japan so interesting. The technologies of Tokyo exist next to 200 year old wooden sushi restaurants. The shinkansen zooms past medieval temples. Japanese office workers observe age old shrine superstitions on their way to the karaoke booth.

Anyway, the countries of Asia hold many forms of architecture that exhibit how gracefully man was once able to deal with the challenges that nature provides. The stilt houses of Thailand and Malaysia. The compounds of Bali. The earthen shelters of China. And the wooden structures of Japan. 

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Kumano Nachi Taishi, 1848

Forbidding castles. Towering temples. Elegant gates. Warm, welcoming inns. Sturdy farmhouses. Adaptable homes.

Japan evolved an answer to every housing need. No cookie-cutter approach needed. Standing or sitting in any of these structures feels right. Frank Lloyd Wright said that any building should look like it grew out of its' environment. And Frank Lloyd Wright loved traditional Japanese architecture.

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Traditional Japanese Farmhouse

Of course, these are not so common now.

Glass windows, electric lighting, air-conditioning, central heating, and insulation have eliminated most of the advantages of the traditional Japanese house. And so ushered in efficient, square, cement Western boxes.

Yet, anyone who has sat on the veranda of a Japanese house, looking into the garden, enjoying the breeze that blows through the open shoji screens, knows instinctively which design is true to its' environment.

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Tsuji in Tomo-No-Ura, a Traditional Fishing Town

I hope I live long enough to see Asian countries reject the western housing concept that they have embraced (fat chance). This architecture designed for Northern climates makes no sense in most of Asia, anymore than a Thai stilt house belongs in Minnesota.

A place for everything, and everything in its' place.