Japanese architecture and the influence of Shintoism and Buddhism

toyo ito 1

For hundreds of years, Japanese architecture has captivated people around the world and they have received great recognition for their distinctive work. This year precisely the pritzker prize It was won by Toyo Ito, a Japanese architect, becoming the 6th Japanese architect in obtaining the so-called “architecture nobel”. With this, Japan has positioned itself in second place with more awards than this, being surpassed only by the United States.

toyo ito 2

The japanese aesthetic, the qualities that Japanese culture value in art, have been a mystery to the people of the rest of the world. Westerners tend to see this as yet another orientalist aspect that cannot be understood. However, the Japanese aesthetic makes sense. Much of Japanese aesthetics, like much of its culture, has its origin in religion. Shintoism and Buddhism are the two great religions of Japan, and once they are understood it all makes more sense.

Ryue Nishizawa

Shintoism is a set of ideas that put a lot emphasis on nature. Probably what most know about Shintoism is the belief of spirits or kamis. Ito has garnered a lot of attention in recent years in part because his work, the Sendai Media Library It is located in the area of ​​the Tohoku earthquake, and yet it was left without damage.

Sendai Media Library

The media library is essentially a great glass cube, which makes it look very fragile. If one saw the media library and thought that one of the greatest earthquakes in history occurred there, there would be nothing left of the building. But the media library resisted. The structure of the building allowed him to endure. An architecture critic said “the media library has a system of beams that make it look like a tree, or like a field of grass blowing in the wind … they allowed the building to move during the earthquake and survive.” Like trees or grass. Ito frequently says that his greatest inspirations are found in nature, usually in the wind and water. It does not speak specifically of Shintoism, but it is not that far off.

Ryue Nishizawa 2

Many architects use nature more explicitly in their work. Another Pritzker Prize winner, Ryue Nishizawa, created a unique house in Tokyo called “Garden & House“. While the elements of nature are not included directly in the structure of Garden & House, all the flora of the house is obvious and is more assimilated with nature than with the concrete and concrete surroundings.

Toyo Ito 3

The buddhism it also plays an important role in shaping Japanese aesthetics. Much of the Buddhist dogma, which is known as “ZenInfluences homes. Even if you are not an expert in Buddhism, you can probably see something and say that it is very “Zen.” It has an aspect of simplicity and emptiness. These elements are emphasized and valued in Japanese Buddhism, and are easy to locate in zen gardens and other traditional places.

Tadao Ando 2

Most Zen gardens are plowed and arranged to look like water or waves or that express some kind of movement. But there are other gardens that are a blank space. Though the trees and patterns stand out, the emptiness, the calm, is also important. Many Japanese architects incorporate these elements into their works. Large spaces of intentional emptiness can be seen.

Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando, another Pritzker Prize winner, uses a lot of emptiness in his works. In Ando’s work you can see large concrete walls covering large areas and with enormous heights. Even the selection of the material was thought out. The concrete, which is flat and uniform, makes the areas look more interesting, rather than drab.