Zen Spaces in Neon Places
Reflections on Japanese Architecture and Urbanism
Combining two decades of author Vinayak Bharne’s scholarship, fieldwork, and personal experience, this landmark volume evokes the bewildering and contradictory built world of Japan, and weaves together its delicate and raw intellectual textures into a unique reading experience.
Moving across Japanese history in time and space--from its ancient Shinto beginnings to its largest recorded earthquake, and from the spiritual calm of Ise and Ryoanji to the psychedelic consumerism of Shinjuku and Ginza—Zen Spaces and Neon Places is the first book to catch all of the dimensions and sensations of the Japanese built environment: its architecture and urbanism; its historic buildings and cities; its digital streetscapes and mega-structures; its hyper-speed trains and theme parks; and its concurrent cultures of kinky love hotels and contemplative tea ceremonies. Zen Spaces also looks back at the vital defining moments in the culture's recent history--the reforestation policy of the Tokugawa, the entry of European influences, the insinuation of Western democracy, the expansion and collapse of the economic bubble--and the transformative effects they have had on the Japanese built world.
Combining two decades of author Vinayak Bharne's scholarship, fieldwork, and personal experience, this landmark volume evokes the bewildering and contradictory built world of Japan, and weaves together its delicate and raw intellectual textures into a unique reading experience.
"This book is an unabashedly ambitious attempt to critically reinterpret the multi-faceted essence of Japan and its myriad apparently-conflicting cultural reference-points, applying the kaleidoscopic twin lenses of architectural theory and urban practicalities." --Ken Rodgers, Managing Editor, Kyoto Journal.
"This book will fascinate anyone puzzled by the perceived contrasts between Japan s fanatically ordered calm of temple gardens and the eclectic exuberance of building and urban design since the Second World War. It offers a perceptive yet provocative tour around the history and development of Japan s architecture 'as a cultural continuum between the native and the foreign, between tradition and mutation,' tracing developments from Nara to Tokyo, with plentiful asides along the way. If you have ever wondered what the splendor of Todai-ji Temple and the puzzle of Ryoan-ji Temple have to do with Shinjuku Railway Station, then this is the book for you! --Michael Greenhalgh, Professor Emeritus of Art History, Australian National University
"Bharne is a highly perceptive flâneur of the Japanese city. On this elegantly written and thought-provoking stroll - from the early beginnings of Japanese architecture in Ise to the neon-lit street canyons of post-industrial Tokyo - he opens up surprising and fresh perspectives on urban Japan and challenges views that have long been taken for granted." --Christian Dimmer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Urban Design & Urban Studies, University of Tokyo.