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Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings (Dover Architecture) Paperback – June 1, 1961

4.8 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

More than three hundred detailed illustrations by the author provide accurate information on types of houses, interiors of both ordinary and teahouse rooms, floor plans, roof detailing, methods of structure and construction, gardens, decorations, tools, furniture, and fittings.

About the Author

Edward S. Morse, (1838-1925) a zoology professor from Maine, helped introduce modern scientific methods and thinking to the study of zoology, biology, sociology and archaeology at Tokyo University. He was awarded the (Second Degree) Order of the Sacred Treasure and the Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government.
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Architecture
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (June 1, 1961)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486207463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486207469
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #504,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In this excellent primer to the aesthetic of Japanese building design, Edward Morse casts a sympathetic and discerning eye on the constituent principles, parts, and details of traditional Japanese architecture and design. As we are led room by room through Japanese buildings of his time, we acquire an appreciation for the highly imaginitive individual expressions made by artisans of many crafts working within the standardization that gave the style longevity through many generations.
His study ranges from the historical origins of Japanese architecture to covering room floorplans, as has become a staple in introducing Japanese tatami mat rooms since he first wrote this book in the 1886, to lavishing minute attention to the details of various crafts that made the Japanese interior design accessories touchstones of excellence throughout the world. He also provides intimate vignettes of individual design principles, items, materials, and construction utilized throughout Japanese houses, rooms, and tea rooms.
His ability to translate the often fleeting impression of a space into precise identifiable elements makes him a valuable guide to this deceptively simple-looking style of interior design whose rigorous structure and aesthetic guidelines make it one of the great design styles of history. The extensive etchings included in the book provide concise, delightful, and sometimes humorous examples of the principles applied.
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This is a great book which describes in fine detail theJapanese home in the late 1800s. This book captures a period of timewhen the Japanese house still had its unique cultural style and hadn't been excessively influenced by american or european style architecture. The book is clearly written and there are many detailed drawings which illustrate the text's descriptions. It is an interesting book both for its architectural detail as well as for its historical perspective.
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Format: Paperback
I purchased this book simply to get a quick overview of Japanese domestic architecture. The price is always right with Dover books so I just ordered it without any research. What a pleasant surprise to find myself reading a definitive work on the subject a few days later. The text is thoughtfully written and the illustrations skillfully done. As with any well written and illustrated book, color pictures are not overly missed. As a result of this book I find myself much more interested in Japanese architecture than I ever intended to be and heartily recommend it to anyone with an interest in home or interior design.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book about 3 years ago from Amazon. So you'd think that it would be old hat by now. Yet I find myself picking it up at least once every few months to either refer to it for a construction detail or just to look for something new. What a wonderful resource for traditional Japanese design this book is.

Trained as a Zoologist, Morse put his scientific powers of observation and systematic description to work during the 1880's in producing the sketches and text that describes a world of everyday Japanese design right before it was swamped with Western influence and largely disappeared. There are plenty of books that can show you pictures of ancient Japanese temples and teahouses, but what about the method of constructing the roof of an ordinary 19th century Tokyo home? This was stuff that few people thought was worth recording for posterity. Which is why Morse's book is so unique and valuable to us.

Anyone with more than a passing interest in the way that things are built or designed would do well to put this book on their shelf. Interior decorators, architects, DIY types (such as myself), finish carpenters, contractors and furniture makers should all have a tattered, dog-eared copy of 'Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings' within easy reach. It is a constant source of inspiration.
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Format: Paperback
I picked up the Dover paperback edition at a library book sale and was charmed by the author's detailed drawings as much as the description of domestic life in 19th century Japan. Morse originally published this in 1885, barely 30 years after Perry's expedition, and traveled around Japan documenting as many houses and styles as possible (including those of the Aino culture). There are no photographs, but the intricate line drawings and intimate descriptions of functional households -- kitchens and cooking utensils, washing areas, sleeping quarters -- are minutely detailed and thoroughly described in the text. Not just a book for those interested in architecture but history as well.
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"Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings" is a great book. If you've any interest in traditional Japanese architecture, get this book. Edward Morse was an American who went to Japan in 1877 to study brachiopods. He ended up recording a vanishing way of life instead. He tells you how Japanese homes were built and why they were built that way. Not much escapes his eye. In serviceable prose and clear drawings, he tells us about carpenters and their tools, houses, furnishings, privies, fences and gateways, water supplies and gardens. Most of it he compares favorably to American and European counterparts.

Best of all, it's a Dover book and cheap.
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