Friday, October 10, 2008

Excerpt from "Lost Japan" by Alex Kerr

David, this reminded me of what you described happening in Singapore (and Thailand as well.)

"A Japanese friend once said to me, 'I always associated old Japanese buildings with an image of poverty. When I saw Tenmangu I realized for the first time that one could live well in an old house.' The key o the destruction of the city of Kyoto lies in this comment. In the eyes of the city administration, rows of old wooden houses look 'poor'; they are an embarrassment, and should be removed quickly. This is not only true of Kyoto-the same feeling lurks deep in the hearts of people all over Japan. If this were not so, the rampant destruction which has occurred here would have sparked a strong public outcry; but until recently there has been hardly a peep of protest."


David Gould said...

Many thanks for this- how sad- maybe it's a universal problem. Do you know the book by Edward S Morse 'Japanese Homes and their Surroundings'? Written in 1886, but still a good read- a real celebration of the richness of the Japanese vernacular. I always admired what Frank Lloyd Wright did in Japan.
Next weekend I'm taking 6 young architects/students to an island near Singapore to do some measured drawings of some of the few surviving Malay 'kampong' houses- it'll be interesting to see what they think.

Valerie said...

Please post some pictures/thoughts from the trip here, David!

I don't know the book, but it sounds wonderful...In a lot of ways, I think Thailand aspires to follow in Japan's footsteps. The contemporary buildings here of white concrete really speak to that---and in other areas as well. In terms of scientific innovation, my husband has remarked that Thailand is where Japan was not too long ago---and strives to emulate them especially in high-profile fields like robotics.