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Modern Japanese Architecture Part 1: From Meiji Restoration to the Pacific War

Explore key elements of modern Japanese architecture and related history with a focus on its Westernization covering the period from 1868 to 1945.

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Starts Aug 3
Ends Oct 31
Estimated 5 weeks
3–5 hours per week
Self-paced
Progress at your own speed
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course
First, we'll begin from the year 1868 with Japan's emergence as a new nation. Its new and increasingly Western-style capital city of Tokyo grew upon the foundations of a far smaller seventeenth-century town called Edo surrounding a feudal castle. Before long, changing building methods and materials foretold a different age. By the turn of the twentieth century, a strong contrast between the old-style, low, wooden, Japanese structures and up-to-date modern buildings, first distinguished by red brick and later by industrially produced materials, was clearly visible to any and all.

We'll discuss the intensive process of Westernization set in motion by Japan's imitation of European and American lifestyles. From that angle, we'll see how architects began to seek out their own version of early twentieth-century Modernism. As a starting point, Japanese practice followed the novel rational and "functionalist" innovations of the Franco-Swiss architect Le Corbusier and the stripped-down and up-to-date approach of Walter Gropius, director of the famous German art school known as the Bauhaus. Meanwhile, Japan had embarked upon educating its own architects, who were no longer the older skilled master carpenters trained on site.

A distinct, if frequently eclectic, style evolved with a few younger Japanese seeking experience abroad. Our course seeks to discuss and illustrate the roots of Modernist building in Japan over approximately three quarters of a century in Part 1.

At a glance

  • Institution: TokyoTechX
  • Subject: Architecture
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Prerequisites:
    No special prerequisites, although some knowledge of modern architectural history could enrich the course experience.
  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • How Japanese architecture came to differ from that of the West
  • A brief cultural history of Japan in the modern period
  • Greater understanding of the works of several prominent Japanese designers
  • Materials and design methods used by architects in Japan
  • Overall goals and constraints affecting early Japanese architects

About the instructors

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