The land of the Rising Sun






The sun rises everyday in japan well before 5 am and converges directly upon Tokyo with no interruption from the east across the pacific. Japan has benefited greatly from being an island, it has preserved its distinct culture, its resources and beauty all the while making an efficient system to help control the population and density of her people.

Besides an efficient system of infrastructure, networks and transportation, Japan has also continued to pioneer a distinct and multi-faceted network of architectural thought and creation to provide more than just basic function for her people.

Staying at the Andon Ryokon, a small hotel in Tokyo, i first became introduced by the idea of the domestic floor, how the human scale can influence a room, and ultimately how a set of rooms can influence a building. Much different from a western house or dwelling, where you would have separate bedrooms and possibly a bathroom on one floor.

The domestic floor encompasses many rooms and shared bathrooms along with possibly a small kitchen or additional space. This was the layout at the Andon and it is an important idea because it can create community or intimacy but still allow for privacy and it ultimately helps save space in a crowded city like Tokyo. The Tatami mat would be known as the bed in our culture, and one mat is designed to match the height and width of one man who would be found sleeping on the floor.

This mat would be more or less proportional to those dimensions and the Japanese use 4-5 of these mats to create a room. This idea of using “bodies” or the human scale to create a room is very efficient for saving space but connects deeper to architecture by providing a human relationship. In the west or in America, a room is seen to be more private, more spacious, and is firstly not designed directly from the human scale, at least not with direct thought like how the Japanese do.

After learning about these ideas, immediately my outlook on architecture changed completely, sure i could have read this information in a book years from now, but actually living and seeing it firsthand, i realized that a different way of living could be more efficient and effective that could change the way i live back home but furthermore solve many issues that America has in regard to housing, urban planning, and living situations.

The next 5 days in Tokyo before departing for the rest of the country would change my life forever of how i would see and analyze architecture along with being immersed in a different culture. seeing all types of buildings, much smaller in scale, and much more experimental in regard to material and structure provided me with new ideas of what is architecturally possible in a city. The scale of building houses in Tokyo is much much smaller in comparison to America, some houses are the length of doorways and can rise more than three floors.

The cars, streets, and houses are all about half the size of everything in America, this is necessary because of the amount of space Japan has for her people, Thus the scale of the architecture relates to this idea and the human scale via necessity. I also learned that the houses, many of them, dont have living room or certain types of rooms or program in them and that each house is viewed as a room and the city is viewed as the house.

Furthermore if the City is the House, the park or public space becomes the living room, The airport or train station is the entryway and the restaurant or vending machine becomes similar to an aspect of the kitchen. This Idea became more clear and made more sense when i began to observe the different houses and the spaced used. This idea, in relation to the idea of domestic floor and the human scale all reveal the intelligence and distinct indigenous ideas the Japanese have cultivated yet furthermore reveal solutions to greater problems that the world has to face in our contemporary setting.

After seeing many houses and being guided by two professors who have built projects and studied in japan before, my outlook on architecture and what i can build helped me realize whats possible. Both professors helped a great deal explain these ideas to us and provide connections to the local firms we also visited and inside buildings that we would be able to reach without their help.

Ultimately both of them are great men and individuals who set the example but also have helped me as a man and architect see what is possible and achievable. The days in Tokyo were some of the best ive ever had in my life, it has brought a new change and motivation…one i believe that i will continue to understand and use for my professional career and rest of my life.