Ancient Japanese Architecture

The robust Japanese Architecture

Japanese Culture Japanese Architecture

Ancient Japanese Architecture

As a testament to the quality of ancient Japanese Architecture, the oldest surviving wooden structures in the world are located in Nara, Japan. Of the 41 buildings constructed during the Asuka period (538-710 A.D.) the most well-known are the Kondo (Golden Hall) and Goju-no-to (Five story Pagoda). These were constructed as a private temple for the Prince Shotoku, a regent and politician in the Asuka period.

Another well known archaeological site from ancient Japan is the Todaiji in Nara prefecture, Japan. The Todaiji was built to function as the headquarters for regional temples built in surrounding provinces. The Todaiji's main building is the Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall) and is the largest wooden building in the world. Inside the Daibutsuden a 16.2m tall Buddha is enshrined. The current statue of the Buddha was built during the Edo period (1603-1868) and only a few fragments of the original remain.

Buddhist Pagoda's in ancient Japan all shared similar characteristics. The wooden walls were thin and vertical. The structures had multiple stories supported by columns made from cypress trees. Thatched roofs were common as well as large doors and windows strategically placed for the best viewing of external gardens or other natural scenery.

Although Buddhism teaches impermanence, Shinto places importance on purity and youth. For this reason many Shinto shrines in Japan are rebuilt every 20 years, often at great expense, to keep them forever new and also forever ancient in their original form. The Ise shrine in Mie, Japan was rebuilt in 1993 and is on its 61st iteration. It is scheduled to be rebuilt in 2013.

The ancient Japanese may not have had access to suitable stone for building, but they were able to build long-lasting structures using wood. Although many famous castles and other well known historical buildings were destroyed by fire in Japan's history, there are many which are still standing today.

About the Author

Alton Trevino lives in Japan and enjoys writing about Japanese history and culture. Please visit the following link to read more about ancient Japan

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