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The Genius of Japanese Carpentry: The Secrets of a Craft [Paperback]

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Item description for The Genius of Japanese Carpentry: The Secrets of a Craft by S. Azby Brown...

0ver a thousand years ago in Nara, Japan, anonymous carpenters erected a number of temples and pagodas for a newly founded Buddhist monastery known as Yakushiji. Not only is one of those pagodas still standing today, but also surviving are the dedication to quality and the technical skill of its builders as seen in the work of modern-day craftsmen. The Genius of Japanese Carpentry focuses on such practicing carpenters, who combine in their work the timeless past and the living present.
What precisely is a Buddhist temple, what a temple carpenter, and what relationship do they have to Japanese woodworkers and carpenters in general? S. Azby Brown raises and answers these questions before taking up the subject that lies at the heart of the book: the construction of the Picture Hall, one of the temples lying within a sub-compound of the Yakushiji monastery. Founded in the eighth century and subject over time to the depredations of fire and warfare, the Yakushiji is now in the midst of a complete renovation that will, by the year 2030, restore its original appearance. As one part of this project, the construction of the Picture Hall has now been completed, employing the methods, the architectural style, and to a large extent the technology of its Japanese historical predecessors.
From the day work commenced on the Picture Hall to the day it was finished, the author was at the site, camera in hand, recording its step-by-step erection: the selection of wood, the fabrication of parts, the detailing, the joint-making, the laying of the foundations, the pillars and beams going into place, installment of rafters and struts, the laying of the roof and roof-tiles, and, finally, the holding of the festive ridge-beam ceremony. In addition to documentary photographs, the book is remarkable for the author's drawings, based on the plans of the master carpenter himself. The combination of photos and drawings so clarifies the process of erection that the ambitious reader might imagine, for one heady moment, that he or she might undertake the building of just such a temple if only provided with the proper tools. While far from the truth, this illusion is eloquent testimony to the lucidity of the author's presentation. While it is thus the construction process itself that forms the center of the book, another important element, the human element, is never slighted. The carpenters themselves are continuously present, patiently going about their work, concentrating on the job at hand. It is perhaps from their example, as much as from the description of the stages of construction, that the modern reader will derive inspiration, discovering a common bond of sympathy that bridges both time and cultural boundaries.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   140
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 7.25" Height: 10"
Weight:   1.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 15, 1995
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770019785  
ISBN13  9784770019783  

Availability  0 units.

More About S. Azby Brown

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Azby Brown is the director of KIT Future Design Institute in Tokyo. After studying architecture and sculpture at Yale College, Brown entered the Department of Architecture of the University of Tokyo under a grant from the Japanese Ministry of Education. After completing his Ph.D., he became an associate professor of architectural design at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology. He is the author of "Just Enough, Small Spaces, The Japanese Dream House, " and "The Very Small Home." He lives in Tokyo.

Azby Brown was born in 1956.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Home & Garden > Crafts & Hobbies > Woodworking > Projects
2Books > Subjects > Home & Garden > Home Design > General
3Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > Building Types & Styles > General
4Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > Building Types & Styles > Residential
5Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > General
6Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Engineering > Civil > Construction > Carpentry

Reviews - What do customers think about The Genius of Japanese Carpentry: The Secrets of a Craft?

Not what I am looking for ...  Sep 27, 2006
I live in Japan and I like cabinet-making. I would love to learn how to make the old furniture I see around me: the joinery, the staining, the tools you use, but it seems all I find is how-tos or picture books about temples and huge structures ...
Temples are fine, but how about small drawers and tables?
Excellent book on Japanese architecture  Aug 25, 2005
This book presents an excellent detailed view of the entire restoration process of the picture hall which is part of Yakushiji temple. I have been marvelled at the bracket (tou-kung) structures in ancient Chinese and Japanese temples but I was not able to find much information about them anywhere. This book not only describes in detail how the bracket system holds the weight of the roof, but also how they are constructed, with detail photos and diagrams of many mortise/tenon joints.
In short, it is just an incredible book that gives you insights into how those Japanese temples were built, without a single piece of nail that holds them together, but yet lasted for centuries.
Fascinating book  Oct 16, 2001
Did you know that wood from trees that were growing on the south-facing side of a mountain has got to be used in the southern-facing face of a Japanese temple, so that it experiences the same weather conditions as it used to and doesn't warp so much? Or that the curving grain of a wood can be used to support a load from above, so the curve neutralises the sagging? This and many other fascinating aspects of the highly refined art of Japanese carpentry are revealed in this book. Every page makes you marvel at its precision, sophistication and sheer ingenuity. Azby Brown writes with clarity and knows how to capture all the interesting details.
A basic book for japanese temple carpentry  Dec 17, 2000
This book is an excellent begin to the study of the japanese temple carpentry, with a lot of tips of the architectural solutions used by the japanese. It shows some history of the japanese temples, but not so deep. Also it is not a how to book, as i said it is a begginers book full with photos of the temple carpenter's workshop and closes of some joints.
Overview of Japanese Joinery in Carpentry and Architecture  Feb 19, 1998
A high-level look at Japanese joinery in carpentry and temple architecture. Good photographs and diagrams. This book would have more meaning to a carpenter as it is not an instruction book to learning and implementing these techniques.

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