Roll back the clock 1,000 years to the Heian Era to find the origin of the elusive and ambiguous Japanese aesthetics where the aristocrats explored the culture of “mono no aware.” It is amazing to find how much the aesthetic style had changed, but the fundamentals remain the same to this day.
The exhibition “Tadao Ando: Endeavors” held at the National Art Center, Tokyo in 2017 was a comprehensive compilation of Ando’s energetic work that stretches over 50 years, including the replica of the “Church of the Light,” the installation of the Naoshima Project, the Row House of Sumiyoshi, Punta della Dogana and the Shanghai Poly Grand Theatre.
Architect Toyo Ito founded the Omishima Minna-no-Winery in 2015, an inspiring endeavor to convert abandoned orchards in a small, rural yet history-rich island in the Seto Naikai into vineyards, so that the relinquished assets can be transformed into new values and opportunities for the island.
After decades of progressive endeavors exploring new opportunities of urban living by translating the “modern” in a unique way, Toyo Ito is going rural. And there is a profound reason behind this. You will discover how he’s come to see the end of the modern system, and how he is finding a new future on the small island called Omishima in Western Japan, that still retains people’s potential embraced by a unique local environment. Going rural is the new black beyond modernism.
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.
Architect Toyo Ito has been on his journey to re-define the purpose of “modern architecture” through his disaster relief efforts following the Tohoku Earthquake/Tsunami that affected Northeastern Japan in 2011. Learn about his efforts through his “Home for All” project and the Venice Biennale 2012 Japan Pavilion: “Architecture. Possible here?”
In his conversation with Haruki Murakami, Seiji Ozawa explains effective “ma” in music, a Japanese concept that places void in between sequences.
Many daily household items are not a feast for the eyes, and you are not inspired or excited when you use them. But does it have to be that way? The MUJI cooking scale is just beautiful in design and delivers great functionality (and is semi solar-powered). It is inspiring to find how just one aesthetically pleasing cooking scale can uplift your life.
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.
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.
We visited MUJI’s model house in Kanagawa, Japan. The model, the “Wood House,” is a “tiny house” of about 1,000 square feet that delivers edit-ability and flexibility you could never have expected in other homes. The secret? Efficient insulation and no walls that would otherwise have limited your option to leverage each corner of the space. Find out how it works.
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.
The exhibition “The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945” was held at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo in 2017. From Kenzo Tange, Kazuo Shinohara, Toyo Ito, Kazunari Skamoto, Tadao Ando, Kengo Kuma, Kazuyo Sejima and Sou Fujimoto, it delivered a unique narrative on what “modern” meant for the Japanese and their way of living.
Japanese architect Shigeru Ban’s “Projects in Progress,” his second solo exhibition held in Tokyo in 2017, featured La Seine Musicale, the Tainan Museum, The Watch Company (Swatch + Omega), and some disaster relief projects among many other ongoing projects.