The resurrection of traditional Japanese architecture toward the twenty-first century: The architecture of Shigeru Ban
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Japan's period of self-imposed national seclusion from 1641 to 1854 created an environment where a uniquely Japanese culture could develop, including a singular style of Japanese architecture. However, the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry's black ships in 1868 motivated the fledgling Meiji government to re-open its gates and westernize the country in the name of modernization, in order to avoid colonization. Although the re-opening of the country made this uniquely Japanese culture developed during its years of isolation available to the West, influencing new art movements such as Japonisme, at the same time it also brought on the loss of Japan's national identity and culture as the country became more westernized. The devastation caused during World War II only exacerbated this loss of identity, in particular wiping out much of Japan's architectural heritage and replacing it with Western styles. Eventually, elements of the traditional Japanese style have begun to be picked up again by contemporary Japanese architects. In this thesis I will analyze trends of Japanese architecture since the seventeenth century, from the Japanese style established prior to the Meiji Restoration to the Western-influenced style and back again; the influence of Japan's traditional architecture on the West; and the ideal re-adopting of elements of the traditional Japanese style in contemporary Japanese architecture that Junichiro Tanizaki dreamed of in the 1930s - the architecture of Tadao Ando and Kengo Kuma, and with special attention to the, particularly in the architecture of Shigeru Ban.