Developing from Chinese influences and evolving largely in isolation, Japan is a 2,000-year-old civilization that epitomizes the concepts of aesthetic beauty, simplicity, modularity, and attention to detail. Relationships to nature are important. Various religions shape activities of daily life and establish rituals that define the overall characters of design.

Motifs and Textiles

Naturalistic Motifs

 Designs derived from nature- Botanical motifs

Geometric Motifs


Curved bamboo

Figurative motifs

Derive from men and women in traditional costumes.


Materials- Since there are numerous forest in Japan, wooden post and beams define the structural framework. Cedar, pine, fir, and cypress are typical building woods. Non-load-bearing walls are of plaster, wood panels, or lightweight sliding partitions. Pillar bases, foundation platforms, and fortification walls are of stone.

Facades- Are defined by structural modules that create dark wooden frames with light rectangular center spaces. In traditional architecture, the shin- kabe( plaster wall with exposed  structure) is typical. On some buildings, the wall area under the eaves exhibits painted decoration in bright colors, such as red, blue, or yellow.

Roofs- Are low gabled, and single or doubled hipped with wide, upturned overhangs to protect walls from rain. Surfaces are typically either shingle or tiled.

Japanese buildings appear as works of art in beautiful environments 

Bulidings include temples, shrines, pagodas, and shops, palaces or castles, town and farm homes


Floor plans in early temples  have a large central space flanked by  smaller spaces or aisles.


 Shrines house the gods, and are located on sacred sites isolated by forest, mountains, and water.


Within the temple complex, they are the momuments

Private Buildings

Site Orientation- The dwelling complex sites within a landscaped garden on the edge of a pool.

Floor plans- They are usually modular based on the Ken, a system derived from the arrangement of structural pillars and tatami mats. These mats are positioned parallel and perpendicular to one another in various configurations. House are generally one or two stories with the important rooms in the rear facing the garden.

Materials- Timber construction dominates in producing the besso and the farmhouse. Castles may be composed of a large complex of wooden building, usually covered with plaster, grouped around a keep or tenshu (main structure) or multistoried complexes of stone.

Facades- Are generally plain and unembellished with repetive modules around the exterior perimeter. Exterior surfaces are either of natural wood, painted black wood, or natural wood infilled with plaster modules.

Windows and Doors- Shoji screens serve as both windows and doors on many Japanese buildings. They shield the outer portions of a building during poor weather.

Roofs- Residential dwellings usually have long, low gable or single- or double- hipped roofs with clay tiles or wooden shingles.

Palaces or Castles


Furniture and Decorative Arts


Storage – Tansu


Porcelains and Ceramics

Ancient Japanese Pottery


Japanese Print

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