Kayabuki roof at Katsura Villa.⠀
Literally meaning ‘roof made with grasses, reefs and straws’, the bamboo framework and natural materials creates a unique pattern in each environment. Although nearly half of the thatching can be dried out and re-used, these roofs only last up to 30 years, and these days are becoming a rare specimen.
Gardener on rainy day at Katsura Imperial Villa, Kyoto.⠀
Walter Gropius wrote to Le Corbusier about the architecture: “Dear Corbu, everything we have fought for is paralleled in ancient Japanese culture... Japanese houses are the best and most modern examples that I know of, and they really are pre-fabricated.”
Tools of the trade at Kagizen, an old Japanese sweets store in Kyoto.⠀
These beautiful sakura and Japanese oak moulds are used to press wasanbon sugar into sweets of various forms. Wasanbon is produced in Awa, Tokushima, and known for its delicate sweetness which melts delicately on the tongue. We’ve always got many excuses for a visit to Kagizen... this is just one of them!
Here an ‘udzukuri’ finished engawa floor, a process in which the softer parts of the wood grain are carved away using a brittle brush. Natural patterns and textures appear revealing the unique history and characteristics of the timber. We love how the udzukuri grooves seem to stimulate and activate the sensations in our feet 🙏🏼
At Shisendo, a place rich with discrete treasures for the senses.
A midday break strolling through the monthly market at Toji Temple in Kyoto 🙌🏼 Said to have begun in 1239 (!) it occurs on the 21st day of each month. It’s an overwhelming but worthwhile experience - selling everything from local modern crafts, antique wares, tools, clothing, food and 🌿 as shown here, all in the grounds of a world heritage site 😳
“When I was in England... one day, when the master and I took a walk in the garden, I noted that the paths between the rows of trees were all thickly covered with moss. I offered a compliment, saying that these paths had magnificently acquired a look of age. Whereupon my host replied that he soon intended to get a gardener to scrape all this moss away.” - Natsume Soseki⠀
Moss is synonymous with the Japanese concept that a certain perishability accompanies all beauty. Prevalent in Japanese gardens, it can also be found almost anywhere that nature has been allowed to take its natural course. Where have you come across the most beautiful moss? 🌿
An unusual post?! Maintenance work at Kyoto Imperial Palace. We actually get a little excited when we see sites hidden and surrounded in scaffolding 😎👍🏼 Why? You might not be able to get that postcard perfect shot, but it’s a rare sight seeing the work that preserves the original beauty and craftmanship. Shout out to those working onsite today 🙌🏼
Though the presence of his noborigama kiln is hard to ignore, Kanjiro Kawai produced and worked with a range of mediums, seeking inspiration from both local crafts as well as those abroad. Shown here is a chair he designed, and 👉🏼🤚🏼 a wooden sculpture he carved himself.
Kanjiro Kawai’s ‘noborigama’ chambered climbing kiln at the rear of his house. Kawai inherited this kiln from a previous owner, and fired most of his work in the second chamber. Firing began from the front chamber and worked its way to the back, requiring up to 2000 bundles of pine 😳🔥
House + Studio love: built in 1937, this gem is Kanjiro Kawai’s house, workshop and kiln in Kyoto. Kawai was one of the founding members of the mingei folk art movement alongside Soetsu Yanagi, and designed his home based on traditional vernacular houses - Japanese ‘minka’ - that he studied from the Hida Takayama region. Stay tuned for more of these wonderful spaces to follow 🙌🏼 (Ps there’s a gift from Soetsu Yanagi in Kawai’s home - see if you can spot it when you visit 😉)
“They’ll last at least 200 years.” - Tatsuaki Kuroda⠀
For your Sunday morning ☕️ 📰 🙏🏼 The words left by the maker of the long Japanese oak tables and benches as they were handed over, since then home to student debates and discussions for almost a hundred years.⠀
A bakery and cafe in front of Kyoto University, there are a lot of things to love about Shinshindo. One of them is the furniture inside made by Kuroda, a woodworker and lacquerware artist - and the first to be awarded a living national treasure status in the craft. Their quiet confidence is hard to convey in photographs - best understood with a ☕️ and book in hand when passing through Kyoto 🙌🏼
“People here build better than anybody else. You may say they build better as a result of some strange manipulation of the market and a lack of democracy and equal opportunity - and I’m all for those things - but you know what? The Japanese build better anyway.” Some interesting words from architect Rafael Viñoly, Part 2 ✌🏼⠀
Tama Art University Library. Often our mind wanders from these architectural forms, to how it was made and the people onsite who made this happen. And of course... who can refrain from touching those crisp corners 🙈
Flowers in bloom 👉🏼 crow taking respite on an early summer’s day, in sculptor Fumio Asakura’s studio rooftop garden in Yanaka, Tokyo🌿
Gardening formed a core part of Asakura’s sculpture school - he considered nature to be an important vehicle for developing the sense of touch, and undertook gardening as a way to intensify his students’ senses.
“However way you take it, my objective of building a house is an undeniably difficult feat. There are so many things to consider - things that are simultaneously clear yet unclear... it’s complex. An atelier, home, retreat, sculpture school, clubhouse for friends, hotel, and place for overseas tourists to visit.”
Sculptor Fumio Asakura’s intentions for his home in Yanaka, Tokyo - with an absolutely 👌🏼 result. Here, a view of the neighbourhood from the rooftop garden.
Sculptor Fumio Asakura’s home + studio in Yanaka, Tokyo. It was built around the same time as Sōetsu Yanagi’s house, in 1935. We love seeing the environment in which people live and work - often equally as telling as the work produced. ⠀
More about Asakura’s philosophy later 😌
YAY or NAY? We’d love to hear your thoughts! 💭⠀
Kigumi Infinity, designed by Atsushi Kitagawara Architects, reinterprets the traditional Japanese wood jointing technique of ‘kigumi’, creating a three dimensional wooden grid consisting only of carved wood. Nearly 70% of Japan is 🌲🌲: an abundant source of softwoods for Japan’s traditional timber architecture, but also often neglected and in need of increased awareness + maintenance.⠀
Initially created for Milan Expo 2015, it has currently been rebuilt for the Japan in Architecture exhibit at Mori Art Museum, where you’ll be greeted with the distinct scent of its hinoki cypress👌🏼