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20th Century Japan in 20 Buildings

Author/EditorBarr, John (Author)
ISBN: 9781848225725
Pub Date01/03/2022
BindingHardback
Pages288
Dimensions (mm)250(h) * 190(w)
£45.00
excluding shipping
Availability: Available to order but dispatch within 7-10 days
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There is a long history in the West of viewing Japan through the twin lenses of orientalism and exoticism. Following the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and the re-opening of Japan after a long period of self-imposed isolation there has been a succession of commentators who have sought to present Japan as somehow 'other' and not susceptible to ready understanding. Too often the study of Japanese architecture has followed this pattern or has been presented as a series of visual images that are explained as if they emerged from some unique alchemy of sensitivity and mysticism.

This book argues that Japanese modern architecture emerged from identifiable events: political, social, economic, historical events, and is as susceptible as any other architecture to analysis and criticism in these terms. Episodic rather than encyclopaedic, it does not describe every twist and turn in the development of modern Japanese architecture, but rather, it examines twenty buildings spanning the 20th century and places them in the context of the political, social and economic, as well as the historical and cultural factors that shaped both them and modern Japan. Each building has been chosen because it reflects a major event in the development of modern Japan and its architecture.


In this way, the author provides a more rounded understanding of the development of modern architecture in Japan and the circumstances from which it emerged and offers lessons that are still of relevance. As it entered the modern era, Japan was faced with the necessity of accepting an influx of Western technology in order to catch up. With imported technology came new and different ideas and values. Could the Japanese adopt the technology imported from the West while retaining their own culture and values? How could they identify those values and should they try to retain them or embrace new and different values? In the early 21st century, where we have seen the growth of the Internet and globalisation alongside an increase in nationalism around the world, these should be familiar questions. In a sense we are all Japanese now.

There is a long history in the West of viewing Japan through the twin lenses of orientalism and exoticism. Following the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and the re-opening of Japan after a long period of self-imposed isolation there has been a succession of commentators who have sought to present Japan as somehow 'other' and not susceptible to ready understanding. Too often the study of Japanese architecture has followed this pattern or has been presented as a series of visual images that are explained as if they emerged from some unique alchemy of sensitivity and mysticism.

This book argues that Japanese modern architecture emerged from identifiable events: political, social, economic, historical events, and is as susceptible as any other architecture to analysis and criticism in these terms. Episodic rather than encyclopaedic, it does not describe every twist and turn in the development of modern Japanese architecture, but rather, it examines twenty buildings spanning the 20th century and places them in the context of the political, social and economic, as well as the historical and cultural factors that shaped both them and modern Japan. Each building has been chosen because it reflects a major event in the development of modern Japan and its architecture.


In this way, the author provides a more rounded understanding of the development of modern architecture in Japan and the circumstances from which it emerged and offers lessons that are still of relevance. As it entered the modern era, Japan was faced with the necessity of accepting an influx of Western technology in order to catch up. With imported technology came new and different ideas and values. Could the Japanese adopt the technology imported from the West while retaining their own culture and values? How could they identify those values and should they try to retain them or embrace new and different values? In the early 21st century, where we have seen the growth of the Internet and globalisation alongside an increase in nationalism around the world, these should be familiar questions. In a sense we are all Japanese now.

John Barr is an architect with over 30 years of experience working in Japan. In 1992, he became the first British architect to qualify as a registered architect with a first class licence in Japan and established his own practice in Kobe. He was admitted to the Architectural Institute of Japan in 2002 and has been lecturing on Japanese architecture at the University of Strathclyde since 2012.

Introduction; Prelude : 1868 And All That; Movements and Manifestos; The Finance Minister and the Colonel; Interlude: Putting Lipstick on the Gorilla; Empire and War; The Last Japanese Building; Alternative Facts; New Reality New Friends; Interlude : All Things to All Men; A Tale of Two Governors; Towards a Japanese Machine; Welcome Back; The Naked City; Sticking It to The Man; (Artificial) Landlords; Interlude: The Sumo Wrestler in the Room; Just to Look Without Trying to Prove Anything; The Rise of High Rise; A Dense Nothingness; New Religions; The Cathedral and the Blue Sheet City; Storyville; Castles in the Air; Deja Vu All Over Again; Notes; Bibliography

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