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Japanese Architecture,
Design and Visual Arts


              o understand the basic principle of Japanese Architecture and design, one will need to embark on                        learning the culture, philosophy and way of life. Architecture is an art form but unlike a painting or a sculpture, the purpose of Architecture is not only to be looked at but to be experienced, to be felt and to be lived. A basic approach is to be aware of mind, body and space. The relationships between these three and their qualities. The Japanese occupying ideas and how they contribute to the qualities of mind, body and space.

In Japanese philosophy, the mind has no form, however it is an integral part of the body. The mind collects the information, the body experiences the physical sensations of space and the environment. The health benefits of space surroundings are highly considered. If one is to walk through a garden surrounded with bamboo trees, the effects of the experience may bring calmness, peacefulness, it may even lower one’s blood pressure.

pervasive characteristic of Japanese architecture and various arts is the understanding of the natural world as a source of spiritual insight and an instructive mirror of human emotion. Following this train of thought, it is no surprise that Buddhism and small off shoots of religious principles are shown in their way of life. It is perceived that nature and its manifestations such as waterfalls, old trees, mountains, rocks are abodes of spirits and their personification. 


Imported Buddhist notions of transience were thus merged with the indigenous

tendency to see nature as the Divine Teacher.

Union with the nature is also an element of Japanese architecture. Elements such as long verandas and multiple sliding panels offered a direct link to the pleasing views of nature—although today, nature is often carefully arranged and fabricated rather than wild and real. Given that Japan had a strong exposure to Buddhism, branches such as Zen Buddhism, Shinto and similar principles have been adapted into Architecture, Visual Arts and Designs. The ideal work of art or architecture, unweathered and pristine, was ultimately considered distant, cold, and even grotesque. This sensibility was also apparent in tendencies of Japanese religious iconography.



Japan has a fascinating and multifaceted culture; on the one hand it is steeped in the deepest of traditions dating back thousands of years; on the other it is a society in a continual state of rapid flux, with continually shifting fads and fashions and technological development that constantly pushes back the boundaries of the possible. Japanese people appear to be one of the most socially and ethnically homogenous groups in the world. Japanese workers have associated themselves primarily with the company they work for - a businessman will introduce himself as "Company name no Takahashi-san" (I am Company's Mr Takahashi). By extension, we might get the idea that a Japanese person subordinates the self to the objectives of society. However, in 2008 Japanese politician Nariaki Nakayama declared that the statement of Japan is "ethnically homogenous”, "one people, one race" idea was politically incorrect. Since the 1970s there has been a steady inflow of Brazilians of Japanese descent, and this group now make up 5-10% of the population in some industrial towns in Japan. These days the younger generations speak only Japanese and not the language of their forebears.

Today new challenges lay ahead, younger generations are facing a dramatically different working culture in which a job for life is no longer guaranteed. Consequently, the identification of the self with the company is weakening. Japanese companies now routinely outsource work and lay off workers who may have been with the company for decades. In a highly competitive job market where learning fluent English is seen as one of the keys to success, more and more young Japanese people are studying abroad - mainly in the USA.



Mindfulness is very much an integrated practice in Japanese culture. It is based on the idea of being aware of the present moment without judgement. The space we can create can also encourage us to be mindful. Providing simple and calming features offers abundance of spaciousness. This spaciousness allows the mind to experience peace, and mindfulness; causing the body to absorb the information in a positive way. These are the basic qualities, relationships between mind, body and space.

You will see in some traditional architecture more natural elements such as wood or part of the earth was very much an integral part of temples and other building constructs. The cycle of the seasons was deeply instructive and revealed, for example, that immutability and transcendent perfection were not natural norms. Everything was understood as subject to a cycle of birth, fruition, death, and decay.

Interior Design and Visual Arts


Japanese interior design can be described as Zen - a school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition rather than ritual worship or study of scriptures. Steeped in thousands of years of tradition, this ancient style, known as “Kanso”

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