on July 6, 2004
This is a thought-provoking book. It is immediately accessible with a clear structure and attractive images, but the informative footnotes indicate it also deals with important questions for readers who wish to think more deeply about architecture; and with the aid of the bibliography they will be able to do so. Since the Enlightenment western architects have had some difficulty, or maybe have just been embarrassed, in describing the transcendental nature of their art - usually the result is either an over-bearing rhetoric or a sentimental retreat into poetry. As it has done for at least the last two hundred years, the Japanese tradition provides an insight, by analogy, into issues that concern us all, as inhabitants of our fragile planet.
on July 3, 2004
Rather than being a study of the unique characteristics of Japanese architecture, this book examines universal parameters which many Japanese buildings seem to manifest especially clearly. It helps to explain the unusually wide popular appeal of many traditional Japanese buildings, even among those with little knowledge of their cultural context, and also makes them practically useful to anyone interested in learning from Japanese architecture without importing its formal language. As such, it is a genuinely valuable contribution to contemporary cross-cultural studies, made all the more significant by its direct addressing of the issue of individual human identity in the context of globalization. The book is also visually stunning.