Going to university…it is a huge milestone time for all of us: leaving the comfort of your home, meeting tons of strangers, and mostly preparing for another turning point in one’s life, adulthood. It can be both scary and exciting at the same time. Is it even possible to “prepare” for such a change? One high school student decides to tackle this intimidating aspect by packing early… way early. Xinyun( aka Angelina) decided to travel to learn about her chosen career choice, architecture in Japan before starting her university education.
It is her personal observation of the cities, culture, people, and even ice cream shops in Japan, and how they all intermingled to create a distinctive Japanese style with particular attention on building designs. Read this continuing story and comment and ask questions. Xinyun is more than happy to share her experience with you.
After visiting most of the buildings, I come to several conclusions.
Good design comes in small packages
The first one is that all the buildings, even though with old equipment and designs, are very compact. For example, Mayekawa’s bedroom is really small compared to the living room, but under the windowsill boards contain several space heaters, a small table, and a clip lamp. There is a “policebox”, and it is only 13.61 m2 as well. However, it even has a night-duty room with beds and sinks and tables. Effectively using space is not only very useful when space is limited, but also sustainable in the way that it is often efficient, and the materials do not get wasted. Most of the buildings in this park are relatively small, but they are all very useful. They do not give you a crowded feeling, but not large and empty feeling either. I always believe a good design would make people feel comfortable, and those buildings surely accomplish that.
Not all buildings are designed by architect, and maybe it doesn’t have to be.
The second realization is about the nature of architecture. Buildings like “Kodera” Soy Sauce Shop are not designed carefully by a renowned architect—they are built by very ordinary people who have no knowledge of architecture whatsoever. Architecture is not a subject only for people who studied architecture.
“It is the reflection of a person’s experience and the essence of his or her observations.”
It may not look stunning at first sight, but as you explore around the building, you will realize how much consideration they have put in during the designing of the building, which makes those buildings culturally unique and natural.
over AND Function
The third realization comes when I see the interactive area. In most of the buildings, the park have organized some activities so people, especially little kids, would learn more about its background culture. For example, in the kimono store, there is a live show on how kimino are made; in farmhouse there is staff showing how to maintain a fire and explaining how the smoke floats to the roof and the resultant carbon will stabilized the roof made by straws. Those are not things you could learn by browsing the Internet, because it would be very hard to interpret without a more direct way. It also integrates people and buildings together, and makes the place more educational.
Buildings are supposed to flow with its environment.
It should be balanced between practicality and aesthetic.
Since I have not gone to a university yet, I could only imagine what I would probably learn.
“However, I would never think it would teach you creativity—because that is an instinct buried deep in everyone’s mind.”
By education, a person would be more explicit in what kind of effect he or she wants for a certain design, by education a person would learn the proper tool to make imagination into reality, by education a person would have more opportunities to observe and try out ideas, so they would be more experienced instead more or creative.
This is the reason why those unique little buildings were preserved. They are historically valuable because they reflect the living environment of that generation. This is also the reason why Mayekawa’s house is preserved as well. One’s own residence is probably the more unlimited imagination of that architect, and by preserving his or her residence it is preserving the most innate nature—the core—of that person’s design philosophy.
I am really thankful for my host family to find such a good place for me to immerse in architecture. Even though I have visited Japan briefly before, this is the only time I feel like I have known who they actually are. They are famous for their meticulousness, but they are also collectors of historical evidence. The trip is definitely unforgettable, and those buildings would be in my head, reminding me of what I have learned on this trip.