Art, Life, and Nature in Japan by Masaharu Anesaki

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Art, Life, and Nature in Japan
Masaharu Anesaki
(Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn.: 1971)

Originally published by Marshall Jones Company, Boston: 1933

READ: December 2005

This is a slightly weird book, only put into its proper context once you remember it was originally written in 1933. When I started reading it, I found it had a strange "the War never happened at all" tone (and I know, as a general comment, that the Japanese can be all too quick to forget history sometimes), then I remembered its original publication date!

The book is based on a series of lectures given at Harvard University (even earlier than 1933, as a matter of fact) by Masaharu Anesaki, a professor at Tokyo Imperial University. It is a wonderful description of Japanese art of all kinds, though largely focused on architectural forms in Japan. This, of course, tied in closely with my Art History essay topic on the importance of nature in Japanese religious architecture; Anesaki focusing on exactly that for the bulk of the book. It is well-written and easy-to-read, and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in traditional Japanese culture and/or architecture.

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