Customer Reviews: Building the Japanese House Today
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on February 25, 2006
For anyone who has dreamed of building a Japanese style house, this book is a must! The book takes you through the construction of a building from start to finish. All the things the customers and builders had to consider in construction. (From design, to permits, to materials,to assembly and finally finishing) This is a good way to get an idea of what building a traditional or westernized version of a Japanese house would entail, in terms of time and resources. It would also provide a neat book for house design to see the way traditional Japanese design styles have been incorporated to fit into American style homes.

One of the authors, Len Brackett, is the owner of East Wind which does Traditional Japanese Architecture and Woodworking. The beautiful woodwork this company does is extraordinary!! Len spent more than 5 years in Japan as a temple carpentry apprentice. The book also included an interesting chapter describing him time there. For more information on East Wind, (and to get a better idea of what the book describes) try visiting their website
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on September 7, 2006
Superbly illustrated with photography from Aya Brackett, Building The Japanese House Today by Peggy Landers and Len Brackett is an outstanding collection of beautiful and decorative architectural designs drawn from the Japanese traditional and contemporary architectural ideas and ideals. Deftly co-authored to provide a wealth of usable and informed perspectives, Building The Japanese House Today offers such particulars as preliminary design decisions for building a Japanese home; design directions based on living with or without furniture a chart showing the relative proportions of components of the traditional house; lumber selection, drying and milling; design and construction of a Japanese bath; technical drawings showing how to make traditional architecture conform to western building codes; sources and contacts for materials and craftsmen; and twenty pages of professional plans and diagrams to guide readers through the simple and elegant procedures of construction. A core addition to any professional or academic library Architectural Studies reference collection, Building The Japanese House Today is very highly recommended for non-specialist general readers searching for a knowledgeable and "user-friendly" study of domestic Japanese architecture.
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on April 24, 2008
I should like to urge anyone contemplating the making of a house today to pause and study this book. Live with it for awhile before you proceed. Building a house is more than a personal satisfaction. It is an opportunity to create a work of serene and lasting beauty.

It is only rarely that a book falls into your life as a genuine revelation. Building the Japanese House Today is such a book. It is as if a gentle breeze from the East scattered all the remains of the broken promises of modernism, and replaced them with the new-worldly grace of this centuries-old traditional architecture.

Len Brackett is a Californian who served a full apprenticeship with one of the finest temple carpenters in Japan twenty-five years ago. Upon his return to the United States he set up shop building classical Japanese houses in the San Francisco Bay area and elsewhere.

Mr. Brackett quickly discovered that his clients had their own ideas, and that modern building departments and locally available materials made other requirements. It was then he began a kind of second builder's apprenticeship--to Making it Work in America Today. This book details the results: structures and spaces of a rare, ethereal beauty, at once classically traditional and yet surprisingly modern, descended directly from the Japanese.

Four hundred years ago, when the first Europeans laid eyes upon traditional Japanese houses, they described them as so fine they seemed to have been built by the hands of angels. Such exactly describes the impression one has of Mr. Brackett's houses. They succeed better than any houses I know at marrying an old world architecture with the opportunities of new world modernity. They are traditional Japanese houses, certainly. But they harmoniously agree with the lives we live today.

The book is straightforward. It tells the simple story of a modest building built by an honest craftsman. But what almost explodes off its pages is the possibility it represents of a new-made house culturally and spiritually worth living in.

Anyone interested in traditional Japanese architecture will be interested in Mr. Brackett's book. But I hope it finds in time a much wider circulation among those whose interests lie closer to home. It is a book about living, about what it means to lead a beautiful life that is true to our time, and how such a life may take shelter and sustenance from the house in which we live.
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on August 4, 2008
Building the Japanese House Today fills a void that has frustrated me for several years. It is difficult enough to find english language books on traditional Japanese architecture, much less those that have practical application in today's society. This book is a case study of one building project.

If this book has a flaw, it is that it reads too much like an advertisement for East Wind, Inc., the timber framing company whose work is featured in the book. That said, there is enough technical and philosophical discussion to make this an excellent companion volume to, say, Heino Engel's Measure and Construction of the Japanese House.

This book is no DIY manual, but there is more than enough information to make this book a valuable addition to the library of an armchair architect or timber framing student.
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on October 2, 2010
Having seen Brackett's website, I bought this book thinking it was going to have floor plans (which is what I really wanted) for actual traditional Japanese style houses as well as more pictures and information detailing his Traditional, Westernized and Hybrid Japanese house designs, but the book was mostly just about building a guesthouse and only has one floor plan for the said guesthouse.

The information about the technical stuff (heating, etc), construction process and building materials was very good though.
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on October 30, 2013
This is the book for you. There is also another one, Traditional Japanese Architecture: An Exploration of Elements and Forms" by Mira Locher which is an excellent companion book. These books delve into the actual building of a home the "Japanese" way, from choosing woods to joints, to mats to tea rooms to.... infinity and beyond! Everything you need to know about Japanese home architecture is covered or so it seems... (I say that because I'm not finished with either but am using them side by side). Excellent material. What else can I say.
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on June 3, 2009
I have had the privilege of meeting Lenny Brackett and visiting his shop/compound in northern California. He is without question one of the foremost western experts on traditional Japanese construction, and is widely recognized as such even in Japan. If you are interested in Japanese architecture or are passionate about this form, this is a most own treasure on the subject.

Lenny's main focus since returning to the US has been creating a synthesis of Traditional Japanese design and modern western living. His idea was that although the function and form of Japanese style is perfect in its own right, today it is not suitable for most westerners who can afford the outrageous costs of construction.

Most westerners do not want a Spartan home devoid of furniture that requires sitting on the floor (though it is much healthier), or a house that stays rather cold in the winter. They also want modern conveniences like a quality western kitchen as opposed to a fire pit and a proper bath/shower. Lenny has taken all these considerations and created a building style that retains traditional construction methods, aesthetics, and detail that meets the western standard.

The book is filled with high quality color photos detailing his buildings, and mostly focuses on a large guest house he built in California with superb detail. I should also note Lenny, I believe, is the first designer to incorporate AutoCad into this type of design, and his clients receive a detailed silk bound book of the plans before construction.

The section talking about wood is worth the price of the book alone. Lenny is a master (of many things) wood connoisseur and an avid collector of outstanding pieces. He maintains a large collection of various woods that offer different properties and visuals, and employs them where appropriate in his construction to show off their unique qualities. The Japanese have been hip to wood quality for a long time, but the western market has been slow to catch on. The best wood for the joinery and timber frame construction is Hinoki, known locally as Port Orford Cedar. This is a soft and warm wood that is very workable.

Lenny also shows off his incredible tool collection and demonstrates their use in creating the highly intricate joinery, for which he is a true master. One interesting thing is that the Japanese hand plane can shave the wood so fine, that Hinoki produces a glass-like smooth surface and is therefore never sanded or stained but left to cure and darken naturally. The results are truly magical, and the book illustrates this through countless examples.

You can check out Lenny's website at [...] This is easily my favorite book on the subject and I have given many copies to friends over the years. I highly recommend it.
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on June 19, 2008
This book is full of the most beautiful pictures of close up japanese residental architecture. It goes into tradational japanese rooms and how to adapt it to fit modern day needs. It goes through building materials and intricate explanations on elevation levels, roofs, sliding doors, japanese bath and more. It's definitely worth the price if you're interested in japanese architecture or plan to have a japanese style house.
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on March 10, 2010
As a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright I have been fascinated by the proportions of Japanese homes for some time now. Frank Lloyd Wright was inspired by the buildings he saw in Japan and you can see the influence clearly in many of his buildings. How to learn how it was done without going to Japan and studying there personally escaped me, until I found this book.

This book is a splendid outline of not only how a traditional Japanese home is designed but how it is built from the ground up. No detail is too small and the knowledge about how the wood used is collected and prepared for use will leave you with a great deal of respect for the materials used and the craftsmen who work with them. Home built in this style will last for centuries.

I doubt I will ever actually build a home with these materials, the place I live would not be friendly to an exposed wood frame, but the style tips and information have been invaluable. A must for any lover of great architecture.
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on March 3, 2015
I absolutely love this book. Len Brackett and Peggy Landers Rao are making the jewel-like beauty of this most ancient building practice lovingly clear to readers, and Aya Brackett's inspired photographs draw us righ into these thoughtful, lovely houses, and even, inbto the hearts and minds of those who with skill and wisdom build them. This is more than a book to me, it is a constant source of profound inspiration.
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