The Lesson of Japanese Architecture

The Lesson of Japanese Architecture

The Lesson of Japanese Architecture

The Lesson of Japanese Architecture


Since the first appearance of this book some eighteen years ago, the interest of the Western World in Japanese architecture has greatly increased, and there have been many demands for a new edition. Many changes have occurred during this period, not only throughout the world as a whole, but particularly in Japan. The greatest of these was caused by the destruction in the war of thousands of edifices, many of which are recorded in the first edition, and used as examples to illustrate points the author wished to make. In this revised edition, therefore, two attempts have been made; first, to bring up to date the data of buildings recorded here. second, to add a few examples calculated to augment the points set forth in the book. Some of these did not find a place in the first edition and others have been built since it was published.

1: page 16

Whether or not a part of the western precinct of the Horyuji Monastery, including the middle gatehouse, half of the encircling corridors, the Kondō (Sanctuary) and the five-storied pagoda, was a remnant of the original Horyuji established in A.D. 607 has been a subject of heated discussion among Japanese scholars for nearly half a century. But the problem was practically solved by an excavation conducted by Dr Mosaku Ishida in 1939. The excavation revealed that the plan of the old Horyuji compound, with an area of 660 square feet, was found to be over-lapping that of the present Horyuji, showing that the original Horyuji, which was established by Prince Regent Shotoku, had been destroyed by fire in 670, as recorded in the eighth-century History of Japan, and that the present Horyuji was built about 710. It may be pointed out, however, that the buildings mentioned above remain the oldest specimens of wooden structure in the world.

These remarks are applicable also to the Kondō of the Horyuji Monastery, page 26. In spite of the sad destruction of the wall paintings of the Kondō by the fire which occurred in January 1949, in outward appearance the building, contrary to report, continues to stand as depicted here. Prior to the catastrophe the building had been dismantled for renovation, except the ground floor, in order to allow appointed artists to continue making copies of the wall paintings. The damage done by the fire was confined to the interior of the Kondō, including pillars and wall paintings. All the sculpture of the Buddhistic deities and baldachins had been previously removed to a place of safety.

2: page 16

The three-storied pagoda of the Horinji temple was struck by lightning and burned to the ground on July 21, 1944.

3: page 22 and page 37

The original building of the Golden Pavilion, Kinkakuji Temple, was completely destroyed by fire in 1950. This building was set on fire by a young lunatic priest who, it was said, fell in love with the beautiful building and tried to commit a double suicide with it, but when the . . .

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