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The Art Of Japanese Joinery Paperback – June 1, 1977

4.5 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • The Art Of Japanese Joinery
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  • The Complete Japanese Joinery
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  • Joint Book: The Complete Guide to Wood Joinery
Total price: $47.88
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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 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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This book is wonderful, if you think of the title as "Artful Pictures of Japanese Joinery" or perhaps "Japanese Joinery Art." Saying it the way that it is can be misleading, at least it was for me.

Pages 1-25 are a very cursory overview of the art of carpentry in ancient Japan. Pages 25-88 are full page, gorgeous pictures of different Japanese carpenter's joints. Pages 89-106 are a series of cutaway line drawings of joints, almost an attempt to show you how to do it, but more just to show the complexity of the joints themselves.

But nowhere are there clear, explicit instructions with proportions or techniques to create these joints. This wasn't clear from the description, which is actually quite misleading saying that "even the weekend carpenter can duplicate these bequests from the traditional Japanese carpenter" using this book. That is absolutely not the case, at least for this weekend carpenter.

Great pictures, fantastic art, but a poorly conceived and advertised book for the purpose of making this art. Try The Complete Japanese Joinery instead if you want to make these.
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