Overview of japanese architecture

Japanese Architecture

Japan has an attention-grabbing number of buildings that exhibit completely different japanese architecture types from humble farm homes to grand imperial palaces. They embody a few of the world’s oldest surviving wood buildings in addition to daring, trendy creations. The affect from the Asian mainland was defining over many centuries till western types had been adopted from the late 1800s. In the present day, Japanese architects play outstanding roles in contributing to world architectural tendencies.

Buildings had been historically inbuilt wooden – partially due to the abundance of timber and as a result of materials’s comparatively good resistance to earthquakes. Sadly, many buildings had been misplaced by the centuries to pure disasters, the humid local weather, fires and wars. Efforts have been made to protect some monumental buildings together with temples, shrines, palaces and castles, of which many are very outdated and require periodic renovations. Moreover, efforts are ongoing throughout the nation to reconstruct some misplaced buildings of significance.

Many constructions exhibiting previous architectural types are these days widespread vacationer websites. They’re unfold throughout the nation, some surviving in complete preserved districts or cities, whereas others had been moved to open air museums.

6 elements of Japanese traditional architecture

An outline of a few of the predominant traits of conventional Japanese architecture.

Earlier than you balk on the reductiveness of the title, we’re properly conscious that the complexities of Japanese conventional architecture can’t be distilled into a brief article. Tomes have been written in regards to the origin, types and options of Japan’s outdated buildings; the nation’s architectural custom is as lengthy and deep as its personal historical past. On this submit, all we’ll attempt to do is provide you with an summary of six key traits of conventional Japanese buildings — homes, particularly. We’ll depart shrines, colleges, temples and castles for one more day. 

After we speak about “conventional Japanese buildings,” we’re referring to these inbuilt what roughly constitutes the Edo period (the 17th to mid-19th centuries) and a bit past. It was from the 19th century that Japan began incorporating trendy Western influences in its architecture. Within the nation’s very early years, building was formed by Chinese language and different Asian concepts. Japanese homes have progressed from pit-style dwellings to spacious, refined constructions over the course of centuries.


By far essentially the most outstanding function of conventional Japanese buildings is the dominance of wooden. This was most popular over stone and different supplies, partially due to the ever-present threat of earthquakes. In outdated Japanese homes, wooden was given nice respect and never hid by paint or different coatings; it was utilized in its pure kind in order that the grain could possibly be appreciated. 

In some buildings, nails haven’t even been used — Japanese craftsmen developed alternative routes of connecting components of the home. The roof, which tends to be thatch (older) or tile (extra trendy), usually has a mild curve and is supported by posts and lintels. 

Screens and sliding doorways

Outdated Japanese homes relied on movable screens (shoji) and sliding doorways (fusuma) to divide and re-divide rooms as wanted. The screens are typically mild and papered, permitting some pure mild (and shadows) into the rooms. Heavier shutters had been typically used to shut off the surface of the home. Glass home windows weren’t a function.

The screens and sliding doorways, nonetheless utilized in homes in the present day, had been a few of the first architectural exports from Japan to achieve reputation within the West.


Whereas it arguably enters the realms of interior design and adorning, tatami is a giant a part of conventional Japanese architecture. Usually manufactured from rice straw on the centre, with a overlaying of sentimental rush straw, tatami mats had been used for a big a part of the flooring in homes, offering a tender floor on which to sit down and sleep (cushions and futons had been utilized in lieu of chairs and beds).

The delicate scent of tatami blends with the wooden to create a novel scent that defines conventional Japanese homes. Wander round one and also you’ll see what we imply.

Tatami mats stay widespread in the present day, with many new flats and homes having at the very least one tatami room.


Older Japanese homes are likely to have a raised wood veranda that runs across the exterior fringe of the home. That is referred to as an engawa and is like an out of doors hall. In days passed by it was typically sealed off by the aforementioned heavy (storm) shutters. You’ll see engawa in anime and Japanese motion pictures; characters typically sit on the veranda and look out into the backyard (which is a complete different dialog).


Japanese homes, even in the present day, all the time have a sunken house between the entrance door and the remainder of the home. This space, which is taken into account soiled (and really is), separates the house from the surface and is the place footwear are positioned (normally on a rack or in a shoebox) earlier than getting into. A genkan has lengthy been a sensible means of maintaining the household residing house clear.

Relationship with nature

Japan’s Shinto and Buddhist beliefs influenced architecture proper all the way down to the residential degree, with buildings reflecting a robust emphasis on people’ relationship with nature. That is evident within the concentrate on pure mild in outdated homes, in addition to the usage of wooden in its uncooked kind. It additionally comes by within the strategic design of homes to supply good views into the pure world and the change of seasons therein. 

Whereas not certainly one of our prime six, one other function of old-style Japanese architecture is the inclusion of sunken fireplace referred to as an irori, over which a pot could be hung.  Individuals would collect across the irori for heat and dialog. These are typically nonetheless present in rural inns in the present day.

Many cities have museums devoted to the preservation of outdated types of architecture — you possibly can go and see in 3D what conventional buildings had been like. Good examples embody the Fukugawa Edo Museum in Tokyo and Shirakawa Village in Gifu Prefecture.