Articles related to Japanese traditional design

The gist of Zen-inspired arts, such as Japanese rock garden or Haiku, is still powerful in today’s designs.  You could call it aesthetics of subtraction. By eliminating any excess frills, carefully and considerately, Japanese traditional design lets ultimate essentials emerge from “less” or “emptiness.”

Horyuji: How do you make wooden buildings that last 2,000 years?

"Wow, is that really what ancient people could do? How could this have been possible?" This is our typical reaction when ...
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Japanese architecture: is it really natural and sustainable?

Kengo Kuma and "natural architecture" Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who recently designed the V&A Dundee Museum in Scotland using locally ...
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Experience the sukiya-zukuri: Setouchi Minato no Yado

Japanese residential architecture has changed significantly over a couple of centuries, reflecting the drastic social transformation in Japan (modernization and ...
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The Japan House Los Angeles

The Japan House Los Angeles opened in December 2017 at the popular Hollywood & Highland Center, a shopping and entertainment ...
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Subtle Snail by Atsushi Wada: TAKEO Paper Show

Atushi Wada started creating animation films when he unwittingly picked up a mechanical pencil someone as he studied art at ...
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Hiroshige’s ukiyo-e through the lens of Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 – 1959) is one of the most prominent architects in modern history, but he was also ...
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Chapter 3-2: Bonsai – the art of condensation

Bonsai is the Japanese traditional art of growing plants in pots which is often dubbed “the art of microcosm” because ...
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Chapter 3-4: Tai’an – Rikyu’s microcosmic teahouse

Images above  Left: Tai-an at Myoki-an, Kyoto  Right: Bamboo vase "Onkyoku" believed to have been made by Rikyu In the ...
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Abundance by absence in music: “Absolutely on Music” by Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa

Seiji Ozawa is a globally renowned conductor who's been active in the music scene for more than half a century ...
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Chapter 4: Abundance by absence

In Chapter 1-3, we discussed the "power of zero" and its manifestation through the act of "subtraction (Chapter 2)" and ...
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Chapter 4-2: Absence on senses

The almost empty kare-sansui garden at Ryoan-ji was so mysteriously abstract and beautiful that it inspired many artists from various ...
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Chapter 2: Abundance by subtraction

One of the most commonly seen “zero” concepts in Zen-influenced art and design is subtraction. There is a Japanese phrase, ...
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Chapter 2-2: Ikebana – the art of subtraction

The current form of ikebana (the traditional art of Japanese flower arrangement) cemented its reputation in the 15th century when ...
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Chapter 2-3: Haiku – the beauty of worlds’ shortest poem

The aesthetics of subtraction can also be found in the haiku, the world’s shortest form of poem. The haiku uses ...
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Chapter 2-4: Effect of subtraction on your satisfaction

What does subtraction really do to us? Imagine the situation where you receive satisfaction from an external stimulus. In this ...
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Chapter 1-7: Discovery of zero = abundance

And, by the way, this is not a new experiment at all. For thousands of years, our ancestors have been ...
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Chapter 1-10: Zazen – empty your body and mind for mind-FULL-ness

We need to put ourselves in the shoes of the tomatoes to understand what happens when we internalize the power ...
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The Many Face of Engawa

The engawa (縁側) are hallway-like strips that surround a suite of rooms in a traditional Japanese house. They are usually ...
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“Simplify!” Steve Jobs’ relentless quest for Zen design

It is well known that Steve Jobs practiced Zen. It influenced his design philosophy and is reflected in Apple's minimalist, ...
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Tofukuji kare-sansui by Mirei Shigemori

Mirei Shigemori (重森三玲) was born in 1896 in Okayama, Japan. After studying and practicing ikebana (the traditional Japanese art of ...
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1000 year-old amusement park: Saiho-ji (koke dera)

If an amusement park is designed to let “another world” emerge – a world of dream/fantasy in which you can ...
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Katsura Imperial Villa (Katsura Rikyu)

Katsura Rikyu (Katsura Imperial Villa) is often considered as the culmination of Japanese traditional architecture.  It was built as a ...
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Demystifying the mysteries of Japanese aesthetics

You must be visiting this page to solve your mysteries about Japanese aesthetics.  You may be interested in knowing more ...
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Kengo Kuma: Our cities need to “ferment”

In his book “自然な建築: Natural Architecture“ (Iwanami Publishing, 2008),  Kuma describes the worlds’ perception towards Japanese architecture.  “Having worked and ...
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Tradition of shoe repair: it’s about renewing relationships

In the main article, we discussed how shoe repair had been part of the vibrant circular economy 300 years ago ...
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Kintsugi: Repair beyond repair

Have you ever tried to fix or repair broken items? If so, why did you do that? If you think ...
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Circular economy 300 years ago

Left:  Kintsugi ceramics  courtesy of Hatoya Right: Repaired geta  courtesy of Kagurazaka Sada The "Circular economy" is an exciting, emerging ...
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Minimalist Ukiyo-e & paints by Hokusai

Hokusai is widely known for his ukiyo-e piece “Great Wave Off Kanagawa,” which heavily influenced French Impressionists.  His bold composition ...
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The history of Japanese aesthetics (1) – Mono no aware that “utsurou”

Zen-influenced art and design is often admired for its unique simplicity and minimalist approach. Although it is just one aspect ...
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Kenya Hara and the aesthetics of “emptiness”

Japanese design is often associated with the simple and minimal. Top left: The Butterfly Stool by Sori Yanagi, Top Right: ...
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Kare-sansui (Japanese Zen rock garden): ultimate beauty of absence

Gardens have been an essential part of every civilization. From the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” to Singapore’s “Garden by the ...
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Bonsai: condensation of nature for your palm

Bonsai is unique among Zen-inspired arts because it has somehow maintained its position as ordinary people's hobby. It doesn't have ...
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Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement): Define ultimate essentials by subtraction

Flowers have always been playing important roles in Japanese culture. Ancient Japanese thought that flowers represented the power of living ...
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Is it color? Or is it absence of color? White: color of Zero

White is the color of Zero.  The concept of Zero originates from old Indian philosophy.  As it expanded its influence ...
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Japanese minimalist design and the influence of traditional Zen art

Minimalism is often associated with Japanese traditional Zen-style design.  Zen style arts and design focuses on eliminating any unnecessary frills ...
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Shou sugi ban, primitive-modern architectural material

Shou sugi ban, or 焼き杉 (yaki-sugi, or burnt cedar), is a traditional Japanese method to burn the surface of cedar ...
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Haramaki, Heattech or MUJI?: waste heat recovery of the people, for the people

Waste heat recovery is one of the measures you can take to improve energy efficiency. For example, a large kiln ...
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Applied Origami, as state-of-the-art engineering

Origami is a Zero art because you only use one piece of paper, and are supposed to make something pretty complicated, ...
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Absence in Ukiyoe: Hiroshige – One hundred of Famous Views of Edo

Zero> Zero design> Japanese traditional design Ukiyo-e boasts its simple and bold composition. Enjoy striking effect of subtraction and absence ...
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Nou (traditional theatre)

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Engawa

Ambiguity is a natural part of traditional Japanese architecture. Helped by moderate climate and a relatively safe living environment, average ...
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Tanada Terrace Office: MUJI x Atelier Bow-Wow House Vision 2016

Tanada Terrace House by MUJI x Atelier Bow-Wow Zero> Zero and Technology> Zero and Architecture > Japanese Architects> House Vision> ...
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Horyuji: World’s oldest surviving wooden architecture

“Wow, is that really what ancient people could do? How could this have been possible?” This is our typical reaction when ...
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Ginkakuji: the labyrinth of wabi-sabi

The Jisho-ji, commonly known as Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavilion), is a villa created and lived by the 8th Muromachi shogun ...
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Origami, the co-existence of art and math

Origami in Japanese means “folding paper.” It’s been a popular pastime for kids for such a long time that people ...
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