Good Reading : July 2005
46 goodreading What is Japanese about a Japanese house? Is it the natural materials and colours that are used or the simple flexible spaces devoid of unnec- essary fur niture and decorations? Or is it the way the homes are integrated into the gardens emphasizing that special relationship with nature? As Japan Style reveals, it’s all of these things and more. Though you could easily just turn the pages and look at the lavish photographs of the exteriors and interiors of the 20 homes featured here – homes which range from a 180-year-old minka farmhouse, to a Kyoto townhouse, a home in the harsh snow country, and a cottage shaped by old memories – you will get a much richer understand- ing of the Japanese approach to design and living, if you take the time to read Geeta Mehta and Kimie Tada’s text. For though the peak of perfection is a home that has eliminated the inessentials, it’s the little things that reveal so much about the houses and their owners and you may miss them if you skip the informative and fascinating text. This is a book to linger over, maybe even inspire you to rethink the way we live and remember that a house is not simply timber or bricks and mortar but a home for the soul. coffee table less is more This home was originally built as a simple rental house for holiday- makers. On opening the wooden sliding door the first thing that catches the eye is the flower arrangement, giving the room a sense of fomality. Behind is the drawing room and the enawa corridor which protects it from strong sunlight, and provides a transitional space between the indoor and the garden. Staircases were rare in traditional Japanese architecture. Instead, a step chest was used to provide access to upper floors. Removable drawers and a closet under the steps provided much needed storage space. The chests are unique to Japan.