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The Art Of Japanese Joinery Paperback – June 1, 1977

34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Japanese (translation)

About the Author

Kiyosi Seike, Professor of Architecture at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, is also an active architect both in Japan and abroad. He has published numerous books and articles on architecture in both Japanese and English.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Weatherhill/Tankosha; 1st edition (June 1, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0834815168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0834815162
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Iain Lowe on October 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
The photographs and many diagrams in this book (most of the book in fact is gorgeous glossy photos of the different joints described) expose and beautifully illustrate the Japanese people's many intricate forms of joinery. The author explains the basic concept behind each joint but does not provide details on how to make the cuts that form it. The joints illustrated here are those most commonly used by Japanese "carpenters" and provide an excellent basic overview of what the joints look like and how they fit together. Readers looking for a how-to book will prefer "The Complete Japanese Joinery" by Hideo Sato and Yasua Nakahara.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By G. Conner TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I inherited this book from my father and enjoyed perusing it from time-to-time. I loved that book dearly, and so, decided to share it with others by donating it to our local library.

Another reviewer was correct that it is not a typical "how-to" book, but it is an inspirational art book of classic Japanese joinery. The reason there is little "how-to" information here is because there are so many ways to accomplish these joints; by machine, entirely by hand, or with jigs and many combinations thereof. Also, the only people interested in this type of work are those who simply find it fascinating or are expert craftsmen. In either case, extraneous "how-to" info is not needed.

The book is beautiful, unique, and about an arcane subject, so it has high merit solely in that respect. If you love this type of thing, it is for you and highly recommended. Gorgeous photographs of intricate, hand-crafted joinery are intriguing for some of us woodworkers, even if we never intend to use these joints. And for those of who have made some of these joints, the excellent examples provide a high benchmark for grading our own efforts.

Most of the joinery in this book was cut by hand with traditional Japanese hand tools: Dozuki saws, chisels and wooden planes. Part-time "Home" craftsmen may find these examples inspiring, intimidating or outright depressing in comparison to their own work. My father was a world-class craftsman ( a violin repairman and pattern-maker) so he made many of these joints just for practice, although the methods he chose would undoubtedly differ from traditional Japanese woodworker's ways.

The few joints in here that I found practical use for were the construction joints that help isolate vibration while maintaining structural integrity.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sam Spangenberg on April 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
Excellent historical and technical information.
Very well illustrated with photographs and drawings (orthographic projections).
Table of contents, no index.

This book should appeal to many individuals with a very wide range of construction interests, including architect, designer, carpenter, cabinet maker and artist. In fact Japanese woodworkers guilds, again refining ancient Chinese practices, have created a practice that is as much art as technology in designing and making both joints and the tools to create them. Information on the tools is brief but the variety alone would necessitate another complete book.

This presentation of Japanese joinery represents fully only a few (48) of the many joints created by Japanese woodworkers since 200 BC (perhaps 400 remain "common"), however each presentation includes sufficient pictorial, historical and descriptive detail to understand the incredible skills that were necessary for this evolution of useful joinery.

How serious you feel about architecture, design or cabinetry is not genuinely important to the reader of this book. All readers will acquire some new appreciation for incredible craftsmanship and a stimulated interest in the Japanese technology that remains alive in the oldest wooden structures remaining on Earth.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ronin on June 3, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want to learn about Japanese joinery this is an excellent choice. If you want to make Japanese joints, then I would say this should be an essential companion book to "The Complete Japanese Joinery" by Hideo Sato & Yasua Nakahara, which is a much more hands on how-to treaty.

There are some nice b/w photos of temple architecture in Nara & shimane, followed by 57 beautiful b/w photos of various complex joints all crafted with expert precision. The text describes the function, splicing, and connecting of joints.

Again this is not a technical manual per se, but if you are interested in the subject there is limited choices and I personally love this book.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By K. Shigemitsu on October 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is good for a coffee table display book since it has descriptions of several various joints and nice black&white photos. But if you are planning to create the joints for yourself, you will need a different book since there are no details given about the creation of each joint.
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Format: Paperback
Leafing through this small book is an enlightening and humbling experience for a western woodworker, and I still feel a small shiver of anticipation whenever I pick it up.
The Japanese island chain enjoys a temperate maritime climate, and historically was heavily forested. However, unlike Europe and China where both stone and good clay for brick making were abundant, Japan's volcanic soil offered few material resources suitable for large-scale masonry building projects. It did, however, support a diverse and flourishing variety of trees and other plants suited to a different type of building - the post and lintel construction that forms the basis of wood & timber architecture. Building with wood on the earthquake-prone Pacific Rim required sophisticated joinery design and techniques, and traditional Japanese carpentry developed to meet the challenge. This book documents and showcases some of the results.
Stunning, spare, black and white photography and excellent illustrations complement the book's text. Kiyosi Seike (1915-2005) was Professor and Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and a practicing architect in Japan and abroad. He enjoyed a reputation as one of the most original and thoughtful residential designers in Japan. He was prolific with both private residential and large-scale commercial and public work.
This is definitely not "how to" book, but rather a welcoming and non-threatening overview of master craftsman level Japanese joinery. It can be enjoyed and appreciated by woodworkers and non-woodworkers alike.
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