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Japanese architecture continues to fascinate and inspire architects around the world. It allows you to give a unique style to a building and make it a place of peace and rest . Although the garden or even the danshari also contribute to giving this unique atmosphere to traditional Japanese buildings, the architecture certainly plays a large part. This is why today we want to detail it and analyze it to try to uncover its secrets and allow you to draw inspiration from it for your own buildings.

The origins of Japanese architecture.

Around 2000 years ago, Japanese architecture was very far from what we associate it with today. The houses were simple wooden buildings with a thatched roof and earthen floors.


But the years passed and so did the skills of the craftsmen. Until the 6th century, architecture developed slowly but surely, and we saw the appearance of sanctuaries which constituted the beginnings of the traditional architecture that we know today.

The use of wood.

The use of wood in Japanese architecture began to really be felt from the 7th century. Stone was in fact at that time not the most accessible material and wood having already proven itself in the face of earthquakes, it is the material which becomes the flagship element of constructions such as houses, sanctuaries and even castles. Chinese architectural influence also had a strong influence on this choice which marked the beginning of a long line of buildings which still remain sources of inspiration today.


Among these we can for example cite certain castles which emerged a few centuries later such as Osaka Castle or Himeji Castle. These buildings can easily be compared to the sublime pyramids of Egypt which you can discover thanks to a guided tour by the Egyptologist Laurence Retourné for example. Despite their aesthetic differences, we find in both an enormous amount of architectural thought upstream.

Characteristic elements of traditional Japanese architecture.

When we think of Japanese architecture, we generally think of pointed roofs that span the width. This is indeed one of the main characteristics, just like the massive use of wood that we mentioned previously, but it is not the only one.

Here are some of the other elements that help give Japan such great fame on the subject.

Sliding doors.

More than a simple technique, Japanese architecture is a way of creating an environment, a warm place of tranquility where one feels at ease.


Sliding doors ( fusuma ) help contribute to this environment. They avoid any clicking noise, which prevents disturbing the ambient calm in homes.

The use of wood.

Wood alone has already been the subject of an article as it predominates in construction.

👉 See the article: The use of wood in Japanese architecture.

It allows you to combine both strength, flexibility and detail, which does not displease Japanese craftsmen. Unfortunately, to the great misfortune of some lords and castles, like that of Osaka, they could easily be burned down during times of war.

Tile roofs.

Very large tiled roofs are certainly the most characteristic element of Japanese architecture. They make it possible to give real presence to a simple building by making it an imposing construction.


The genkan .

The genkan is the space that you will find at the entrance to Japanese houses. You put your shoes there so as not to dirty the tatami in the living room, the washitsu .