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At the core of Shingon worship are the various mandalas , diagrams of the spiritual universe that influenced temple design.

The irregular topography of these sites forced their designers to rethink the problems of temple construction, and in so doing to choose more indigenous elements of design. These were characterized by the use local materials and labor, being primarily constructed of wood, having packed earth floors and thatched roofs. Ujigami Shrine , Uji, Kyoto Built in During the Kamakura period — and the following Muromachi period — , Japanese architecture made technological advances that made it somewhat diverge from its Chinese counterpart.

The Kamakura period began with the transfer of power in Japan from the imperial court to the Kamakura shogunate. During the Genpei War — , many traditional buildings in Nara and Kyoto were damaged. Although less elaborate than during the Heian period, architecture in the Kamakura period was informed by a simplicity due to its association with the military order.

New residences used a buke-zukuri style that was associated with buildings surrounded by narrow moats or stockades. Defense became a priority, with buildings grouped under a single roof rather than around a garden. The gardens of the Heian period houses often became training grounds. After the fall of the Kamakura shogunate in , the Ashikaga shogunate was formed, having later its seat in the Kyoto district of Muromachi.

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The proximity of the shogunate to the imperial court led to a rivalry in the upper levels of society which caused tendencies toward luxurious goods and lifestyles. Aristocratic houses were adapted from the simple buke-zukuri style to resemble the earlier shinden-zukuri style. In an attempt to rein in the excess of the upper classes, the Zen masters introduced the tea ceremony.

In architecture this promoted the design of chashitsu tea houses to a modest size with simple detailing and materials.


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In the Muromachi period they began to have a regular size and be closely fitted together. Ginkaku-ji , Kyoto Built in the 15th century. Pagoda of Negoro-ji in Iwade , Wakayama Built in During the Azuchi—Momoyama period — Japan underwent a process of unification after a long period of civil war. It was marked by the rule of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi , men who built castles as symbols of their power; Nobunaga in Azuchi , the seat of his government, and Hideyoshi in Momoyama.


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By the time of the Azuchi-Momoyama period each domain was allowed to have one castle of its own. All of this was set within massive stone walls and surrounded by deep moats. The shoin style that had its origins with the chashitsu of the Muromachi period continued to be refined. Verandas linked the interiors of residential buildings with highly cultivated exterior gardens. Matsumoto Castle in Matsumoto, Nagano , Completed in Dry stone walls of Kumamoto Castle , Completed in The city grew around these buildings connected by a network of roads and canals.

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By the population had swollen to one million inhabitants. The scarcity of space for residential architecture resulted in houses being built over two stories, often constructed on raised stone plinths. Although machiya townhouses had been around since the Heian period they began to be refined during the Edo period. Machiya typically occupied deep, narrow plots abutting the street the width of the plot was usually indicative of the wealth of the owner , often with a workshop or shop on the ground floor. Tiles rather than thatch were used on the roof and exposed timbers were often plastered in an effort to protect the building against fire.

Edo suffered badly from devastating fires and the Great Fire of Meireki was a turning point in urban design. Initially, as a method of reducing fire spread, the government built stone embankments in at least two locations along rivers in the city.

Japanese architecture

Above the earthen roofs was a timber framework supporting a tiled roof. This colour was made by adding India ink to burnt lime and crushed oyster shell. The clean lines of the civil architecture in Edo influenced the sukiya style of residential architecture.

Their architecture has simple lines and decor and uses wood in its natural state. Hikone Castle in Hikone , Shiga Completed in Hondo of Kiyomizu-dera , Kyoto , Built in Towards the end of the Tokugawa shogunate, Western influence in architecture began to show in buildings associated with the military and trade, especially naval and industrial facilities. After the Emperor Meiji was restored to power known as the Meiji Restoration Japan began a rapid process of Westernization which led to the need for new building types such as schools, banks and hotels.

In Nagasaki , the British trader Thomas Glover built his own house in just such a style using the skill of local carpenters. In Tokyo, after the Tsukiji area burnt to the ground in , the government designated the Ginza area as model of modernisation. The government planned the construction of fireproof brick buildings, and larger, better streets connecting the Shimbashi Station and the foreign concession in Tsukiji, as well as to important government buildings.

Designs for the area were provided by the British architect Thomas James Waters ; the Bureau of Construction of the Ministry of Finance was in charge of construction. In the following year, a Western-style Ginza was completed. Nevertheless, the area flourished as a symbol of "civilisation and enlightenment", thanks to the presence of newspapers and magazine companies, who led the trends of the day. The area was also known for its window displays, an example of modern marketing techniques.

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The "Bricktown" of Ginza served as a model for many other modernisation schemes in Japanese cities. One of the prime examples of early western architecture was the Rokumeikan , a large two-story building in Tokyo, completed in , which was to become a controversial symbol of Westernisation in the Meiji period. The Japanese government also invited foreign architects to both work in Japan and teach new Japanese architects. In , a group of young architects formed the first organization of modernist architects. They were known as the Bunriha , literally "Secessionist group", inspired in part by the Vienna Secessionists.

These architects were worried about the reliance on historical styles and decoration and instead encouraged artistic expression. They drew their influence from European movements like Expressionism and the Bauhaus [42] and helped pave the way towards the introduction of the International Style of Modernism. His writings, especially those on Katsura Imperial Villa reevaluated traditional Japanese architecture whilst bringing it to a wider audience.

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As in the Meiji era experience from abroad was gained by Japanese architects working in Europe. Some architects built their reputation upon works of public architecture. The colonial authorities constructed a large number of public buildings, many of which have survived. In Korea under Japanese administration , public buildings such as train stations and city halls were also constructed in various styles. Although the largest Japanese colonial building, the immense Government-General Building , was demolished in , many colonial buildings have been preserved. These include the former Keijo City Hall, today Seoul Metropolitan Library ; the former Keijo station, today Old Seoul Station ; the former Bank of Chosen, designed by Tatsuno Kingo , today the headquarters of the Bank of Korea ; and the former branch of Mitsukoshi department store, today the flagship of Shinsegae department store.

Many official buildings erected during the colonial period still stand today, including those of the Eight Major Bureaus of Manchukuo, the Imperial Palace , the headquarters of the Kwantung Army and Datong Avenue.

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After the war and under the influence of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers , General Douglas MacArthur , Japanese political and religious life was reformed to produce a demilitarised and democratic country. Although a new constitution was established in , it was not until the beginning of the Korean War that Japan as an ally of the United States saw a growth in its economy brought about by the manufacture of industrial goods. However, it was not until the passing of the Public Housing Act in that housing built by the private sector was supported in law by the government.

In , Tange's winning competition entry to design the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum gave him international acclaim. At this time both Tange and Maekawa were interested in the tradition of Japanese architecture and the influence of local character. This was illustrated at Kagawa with elements of Heian period design fused with the International Style. He was assisted by his three former students: Maekawa, Sakakura and Takamasa Yoshizaka. The design was based upon Le Corbusier's museum in Ahmedabad , and both of the museums are square and raised on piloti. A small group of Japanese designers who came to represent the Metabolist Movement presented their manifesto and a series of projects.

Originally known as the Burnt Ash School, the Metabolists associated themselves with idea of renewal and regeneration, rejecting visual representations of the past and promoting the idea that the individual, the house and the city were all parts of a single organism. Although the individual members of the group went in their own directions after a few years the enduring nature of their publications meant that they had a longer presence overseas.

In the s Japan saw both the rise and the expansion of large construction firms, including the Shimizu Corporation and Kajima. Nikken Sekkei emerged as a comprehensive company that often included elements of Metabolist design in its buildings. The Summer Olympics in Tokyo saw a large boost to new design.