Tea ceremony and chashitsu: the ultimate example of Zen design

Experience the sukiya-zukuri: Setouchi Minato no Yado

In scenic/historic Onomichi City, Hiroshima, you can stay at an exquisite, traditional Japanese sukiya-style house renovated by a local business Discoverlink Setouchi. Named Setouchi Minato no Yado, the houses overlook downtown and stunningly beautiful Seto Naikai Inland Sea.

Chapter 3-4: Tai’an – Rikyu’s microcosmic teahouse

“Tai-an” is the ultimate small tea hut, designed by the legendary tea master Sen no Rikyu. According to architect Kengo Kuma: “You won’t understand what Tai-an is all about until you actually crawl into this small hut and experience the very moment when the building, which is almost as small as your body, starts dissolving and enveloping your body softly and lightly, as if it were your clothes.”

Chapter 4: Abundance by absence

Chapter 2-3: Haiku – the beauty of worlds’ shortest poem

Chapter 2-4: Effect of subtraction on your satisfaction

“Simplify!” Steve Jobs’ relentless quest for Zen design

Steve Jobs is known to have practiced the Soto-school of Japanese Zen, and is also known to have loved the kare-sansui garden of the Saijo-ji in Kyoto, which was founded by a prominent Zen priest/garden designer in the 14th century. Find how Jobs leveraged Zen philosophy to design simple and minimal Apple products.

Tofukuji kare-sansui by Mirei Shigemori

Japanese artist Mirei Shigemori (1896 – 1975) infused fresh energy into the traditional Japanese Zen rock garden (kare-sansui). Tofuku-ji Hojo garden in Kyoto is one of the most acclaimed works of his that still survives to this day. Find how traditional and modern, classic and avant-garde blend in his work while maintaining the serenity of Zen.

Katsura Imperial Villa (Katsura Rikyu)

Katura Rikyu (Imperial Villa), built during the 17th century in Kyoto by an aristocrat family, is often dubbed as the culmination of traditional Japanese architecture. Its simplicity is very “modern.” You will be amazed how the fine, subtle lines define architecture so cleanly and potently, and how it dissolves into nature seamlessly but elegantly.

Kengo Kuma: Our cities need to “ferment”

Kengo Kuma leads the world of architecture by focusing on offering new ways to connect our delicate body to nature. What is his view on attractive cities?

Kintsugi: Repair beyond repair

Kintsugi” is a traditional Japanese technique to repair broken ceramics, but it’s something that will change your definition of “repair.” Using glue and gold or silver powder, Kintsugi “heals” injured ceramics and give them new life, embracing the wound. It is fascinating.

Minimalist Ukiyo-e & paints by Hokusai

Kenya Hara and the aesthetics of “emptiness”

Kenya Hara is a Japanese graphic designer who helped cement the philosophy of Japanese brand MUJI by leveraging the concept of “emptiness.” Even though these concepts might appear similar, “emptiness” in Japanese aesthetics is different from Western “simplicity,” observes Hara. Ultimately it has to do with how we perceive our relationship with nature.

Kare-sansui (Japanese Zen rock garden): ultimate beauty of absence

Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement): Define ultimate essentials by subtraction

Japanese minimalist design and the influence of traditional Zen art

If you want to introduce Zen-taste minimalist design, what are the tips? There are several critical Zen aesthetics such as “subtraction”, “condensation” and “absence” that strongly influenced modern minimalist design. Find them through MUJI and other iconic product design.

Absence in Ukiyoe: Hiroshige – One hundred of Famous Views of Edo

Hiroshige Utagawa is known for his strikingly simple, streamlined and highly refined composition. He also employs absence which leaves outstanding impression.