Modern architecture of Japan: features, history and interesting facts

Modern architecture of Japan: features, history and interesting facts
Modern architecture of Japan: features, history and interesting facts

Modern, as well as ancient, the architecture of Japan demonstrates the uniqueness and phenomenality of this state, which originate from ancient times. Over the past decades, the architects of the Land of the Rising Sun have become winners of the Pritzker Prize, which is considered the most prestigious in this field. This allowed Japanese art to evolve from an exotic oriental school to a trend-setting phenomenon in world architecture.

History of Japanese architecture

The main feature of the architecture of ancient Japan is the construction of structures exclusively made of wood, with a bulky massive roof and light, fragile walls. This is due to the humid and warm climate of the islands, which often receive fairly heavy rainfall, as well as periodic earthquakes.

Temple buildings in Japan are divided into 2 types based on religion: Shinto and Buddhist. Structurally, these buildings were built according to Chinese traditions, but adapted to the local culture.

Japanese architecture

The main features of the ancient architecture of Japan:

  • The main material is wood, which is abundant in local areas. Thanks to her, the buildings withstand all the vagaries of nature well, they are easily disassembled and transferred to another place.
  • Strong gable roofs that stand up well to torrential rains and curved cornices are Chinese-influenced but more elegant.
  • All buildings fit perfectly into the landscape, temples are most often located in the park or raised above the water on stilts.
  • Ancient architects built not separate objects, but entire complexes.

An example of such a building can be any place of worship, consisting not only of their main temple, but also of the main gate (torii), a treasury, a library, a multi-tiered pagoda and a temple for sermons.

Famous Ancient House And Footpath

Architecture of the Middle Ages

As the Buddhist religion spread, Japanese city planners were inspired by China's experience in planning and building cities. Already in the 8th century in the cities of Kyoto and Nara, the streets were laid parallel and perpendicular to each other. The emperor's palace has always remained the center, and the palaces of the rich and noble inhabitants, government buildings were built symmetrically and were located in the direction from north to south.

The houses of aristocrats and nobility were distinguished by their splendor and monumentality. These palaces still display traditional Japanese architectural forms and details, dominating the surrounding landscape. You can verify this by looking atphoto attached to the article.

A characteristic feature of the architecture of medieval Japan is the tiered style, which was used in both religious and secular urban planning. The Zen style reached its peak in the 14th century, when several pavilions and other structures were built, decorated with gilded roofs. In their construction, stone was widely used, from which ten-shu towers and other buildings were erected.

Modern Concept Japan Architecture

Japanese temple architecture

The heyday of secular and religious architecture in Japan fell on the 13th-14th centuries, when the Golden and Silver Pavilions, Kiyomizu Temple, Nijo Castle, etc. were built.

golden temple

With the arrival of Buddhism in the Land of the Rising Sun, another construction technique also spread. The foundation of the temple was no longer wooden piles, but a stone foundation. Religious complexes in Japan also served as monasteries in which monks lived and studied. According to tradition, the temple should merge with the surrounding park, with the tall and straight trunks of the surrounding trees. Inside, its center is a "rock garden" designed for reflection and concentration.

The most famous ancient temples in Japan: Shinto Ise and Izumo, the Buddhist complex Horji (Nara), the Todaiji ensemble. The latter is the largest wooden structure in the world, reaching a height of 48 m, equal to a modern 16-storey building. It has a base measuring 60 x 55 m and is the "earthly home" of the giant Daibutsu (Big Buddha).

Todaiji Temple

Common features of Chinese and Japanese architecture

Despite the external influence, the architecture of the countries of the East has always remained traditional and almost unchanged for many centuries, starting from the pre-class era of the development of society. The main form of buildings in the architecture of China and Japan is a pavilion house, covered with a roof hovering over the building with curved ends.

The inner space of the house is a continuation of the natural environment, creating a common composition with the outer bypass (veranda). The layered roof and sculptural decoration (dragons and other figures) are intimately connected by movement to the surrounding trees in the garden and their foliage. The exterior coloring of Chinese and Japanese buildings has always been bright and colorful.

The garden near the house is an indispensable attribute of the architecture of the countries of the East, an intermediate link between nature and the pavilion. It is dominated by curves and winding lines of coastlines, stone passages and groups of trees.

Buddhist temple

National Japanese gardens (shindens) are smaller, they often use the symbolism of the location of raw stones that depict animals, and the soil in them is necessarily covered with moss, but not with grass.

Japanese garden and tea house

Gardening art reached its peak in Japan at the end of the 15th century, and such an area always belonged to a Buddhist temple located in the mountains. Purity and simplicity, silence and self-deepening, elevation above everyday affairs - these are the main features of Japanese shinden. In the middle of the garden is a house designed forritual tea drinking.

Tea houses, or chashitsu, are the national architectural heritage of Japan and the main attribute of the ceremony of the same name, which traditionally reflects "severe simplicity" and "the spirit of reconciliation." The history of their construction dates back to the 15th century, but then they were poor huts of local wise men, and therefore they looked more simple and modest. Only bouquets of flowers, old paintings and scrolls with philosophical statements served as decorations.

tea house

In total, in the architecture of Japan, you can count more than 100 types of tea houses, both poor and richer, reminiscent of fabulous painted caskets. A beautiful garden is usually laid out around such a building, which is necessary to create an atmosphere of inner harmony and peace. At the entrance, a low door was made so that it was possible to enter only by kneeling down. The interior design reflects the national character and aesthetic laws of Japan, with an important place given to the niche in which the scroll is placed for discussion during the ceremony.

Residential buildings

Dwelling houses on the Japanese islands were always built in 1-2 floors and had a simple form, and they were always placed with a facade to the south. Inside, sliding partitions and windows were used, a certain ratio of rooms in the interior was maintained. There has always been a patio in the middle of the house, surrounded by high walls.

Protruding cornices with a ridge at the top were made on a gable thatched roof, which was performed in accordance with local traditions. In front of the house, a covered portico was built, similar to a veranda. From-a small additional part of the roof (hisashi) protruded under the eaves in this place. The entrance was marked with sliding screens (shoji) separating the veranda from the interior space.

Traditional house in Japan

In the windows, according to tradition, instead of glass, matte paper was inserted to let in subdued light, the binding was made of bamboo or wood. The inner screens were made with a binding of thin wooden strips and decorated more brightly. All rooms were connected to each other, but they could be separated with the help of sliding screens. Traditionally, there was almost no furniture in the interior.

Urban residential buildings of the 19th century. already very different from small apartments, located under a large common roof and having separate entrances. Modern residential buildings in Japan often still use wooden structures and partition systems.

Modern house interior

Modern architecture in Japan: the essentials in a nutshell

The National School of Architecture in Japan is considered a newcomer to the global architectural process and has existed for just over 100 years. It first made itself known during the construction of the Yeegi Olympic Stadium (architect K. Tange, 1964), which was built to host sports games.

Japan's modern architecture has both distinctive and international features, attracting more and more attention from experts around the world. There are three main directions:

  • the first includes all star architects already recognized all over the world: T. Ando, ​​K. Kuma, T. Ito, S. Ban;
  • to the second - architects known only in highly specialized circles: T. Nishizawa, S. Fujimoto, employees of the Bau-Wow studio;
  • young novice architects.

Achieve popularity Japanese architects are building objects in Europe, China, Australia, Africa and Asia. The main features of their style: the harmonious interaction of internal and external spaces with the use of the properties and characteristics of natural materials.

Modern architecture in Tokyo

Japanese architects and their work

Wood and paper continue to be the main building materials used in Japan's contemporary art of architecture. More than 50% of all residential buildings are built on the basis of wood structures. Kengo Kuma, the winner of several awards in the field of architecture, is considered the leading specialist in this field. His works (the console of the Wooden Bridge Museum or the Sunny Hills Pavilion in Tokyo) demonstrate the great skill of using wooden structures to decorate the space.

Another woodworker is Taira Nishizawa. Known as the creator of the grate in the gym in Tomochi, the building of the Sunn Pu Church, whose roof is made of raw wood chips in the form of a multi-layered surface.

Architecture by Kengo Kuma

One of the famous representatives of modern Japanese architecture is Ban, who creates unique paper structures using one of the ancient national building materials, the cheapest and most environmentally friendly.

More modern materials (reinforced concrete,glass and plastic) is used in his art by the architect Toyo Ito, who built the Torres Porta Fira building (Barcelona, ​​Spain), the Tama University Library (Tokyo) and the Sendai Media Library (Japan).

Library building, University of Tokyo


The goal of modern architecture in Japan, according to the famous architect Taira Nishizawa, is to create unique forms and structures in such a way that the building, people and environment are in harmony. All architects of the Land of the Rising Sun in the 21st century are striving to fulfill this goal.

Popular topic