World's Most Amazing and Fascinating Buildings: Empires of the East - In Harmony with Nature

The Buddhist temples in Nara were built in about the year 700 and are the oldest surviving wooden buildings in the world.

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World's Most Amazing and Fascinating Buildings: Empires of the East - In Harmony with Nature

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The Japanese have learnt to appreciate the beauty of natural things from a religion called Shinto-the way of the gods. Shinto teaches that simple thing is nature, such as a tree or waterfall, may embody the forces of nature. The Japanese have also learnt from the Chinese. In the sixth century, Buddhism reached Japan from China by way of Korea. Chinese and Korean carpenters brought woodworking skills with them, which the Japanese soon adapted to their own taste. The Japanese Buddhists also embraced the Shinto love of nature. Japanese wooden buildings are very delicate and have complicated details. Houses and temples are designed so they blend into nature, not stand apart from it. The people inside a building never feel cut off from the outdoors. A wall is often built so that it can be pushed to the side to open the room to a garden outside.

Himeji Castle

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Castles were built for the nobility in the sixteenth century. Himeji, in Hyogo, has a tall central tower, or keep, surrounded by smaller towers linked by corridors. Soldiers, called samurai, defended the castle with guns and arrows.

Horyuji Temple Complex

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These Buddhist temples in Nara were built in about the year 700 and are the oldest surviving wooden buildings in the world. This pagoda marks the place where symbolic Buddhist relics are buried and honored. The Golden Hall on the left shelters a statue of Buddha.

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Standing Tall: A mast which stands on a stone over the Buddhist relics, Hold up this pagoda and its five wide roofs supported by brackets.

 

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Brackets: These simple brackets make it possible to build this wall  between the two roofs with just a few wooden posts set far apart.

Phoenix Hall

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This villa in Uji opens onto surrounding gardens and pools. It became a temple of the Pure Land sect of Buddhists, who like to meditate in places that resemble the paradise their faith promises.

Made to Measure

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For centuries, the Japanese have constructed buildings with standard parts made in just a few sizes. The distance between the pillars in a home or tea house fits the standard-size mats on the floor. The frame for each panel of the wall is the same size as a mat. Paper covers each frame to form a panel of the wall. These panels slide to the side to make two rooms into one or they open a wall to the outside.

Did You Know?

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When early Japanese governments moved to a new capital, they ordered that the most sacred temples be taken apart, moved and reassembled at the new location.

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Patrick Regoniel
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deepblue
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Posted on Nov 27, 2010