Japan: The Informal Contained

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2000-10-01
  • Publisher: Ellipsis London Pr Ltd

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A concise one-volume history of one of the world's great architectural traditions, illustrated throughout in color. The history of the people of the Japanese archipelago has been molded by an idiosyncratic conservatism, admitting or even forcing change, but supplementing rather than supplanting existing institutions. The same characteristics have shaped the development of architecture with foreign influences and forms, principally from China, absorbed and gradually transformed. This long tradition of transformation is the subject of Japan: the informal contained. The Japanese are the masters of the assymetrical and the direct relationship between building and nature. The former can be seen in the contrast between the first imperial cities, laid out on a formal grid under the influence of Tang China, and the organic growth of towns in and around the precincts of forts and castles as foreign influence receded. As Chinese influence waned and ritual was elaborated, moreover, the native predilection for informality and studied simplicity achieved its full expression in both shrine and house. Zen Buddhism, introduced during a period of military rule in the thirteenth century, also lead to the development of garden design, not a literal reproduction of nature, but abstraction calculated to elicit a subjective response. Both architecture and garden design are covered. 130 illustrations, most in color. About the A History of Architecture series: An on-going 25-volume series stretching from the earliest signs of settlement in the Euphrates and Jordan valleys to the stylistically and technologically sophisticated buildings of the present day. Each volume sets the buildings described and illustrated within their political, social and cultural contexts, exploring architecture not only as the development of form but as an expression of the civilizations within which it evolved. The series focuses on the story of the classical tradition from its origins in Mesopotamia and Egypt, through its seminal realization in Ancient Greece and Rome, to the Renaissance, neo-classicism, eclecticism, modernism and post-modernism. This thread is supplemented with excursions to Asia and the Islamic world. Great gifts; compact and collectable.

Table of Contents

heijokyo (nara)
heiankyo (kyoto)
kamakura and muromachi
momoyama and edo
glossary 231(8)
bibliography 239(2)
index 241

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