Travel Quote Tuesday | Japanese Culture and its Relationship with Nature

“When you look at Japanese traditional architecture, you have to look at Japanese culture and its relationship with nature. You can actually live in a harmonious, close contact with nature – this is very unique to Japan.” ~ Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando is a renowned Japanese architect, unusually self taught, with no formal training in architecture. He was inspired by the design of Frank Lloyd-Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Tokyo during a high-school trip there, and quickly put aside a short career in boxing to pursue architecture and design. He learned to draw in night classes, and studied interior design via a correspondence course, supplementing this with visits to buildings designed by renowned architects. He was still in his twenties when he established his design studio Tadao Ando Architects and Associates in his home city of Osaka.

Ando’s architectural style has always been strongly influenced by the Japanese Buddhist concept of Zen, which focuses on simplicity and an awareness of life. His building projects (all around the world)  have an emphasis on clean lines, open internal spaces and a modesty of external ornamentation. Concrete and glass are used to great effect, creating architecture that appears paradoxically weightless despite the heaviness of its building materials.

As his quote describes, there is an inclination in Japanese traditional architecture to respect and integrate man-made structures with nature; this is particularly true in religious architecture, and echoed in Ando’s modern style. Whether he is designing a religious, residential or other public space, Ando imbibes the space with spirituality as well as functionality, aiming to help people experience the spirit and beauty of nature through architecture.

This very Japanese approach to building design – both traditional and modern – is something I particularly love about Japan.

“When you look at Japanese traditional architecture, you have to look at Japanese culture and its relationship with nature. You can actually live in a harmonious, close contact with nature – this is very unique to Japan.” Tadao Ando

This is Hikone Castle, in Japan. The timing of our one day visit could not have been better to enjoy sakura (cherry blossom) at its peak within the castle grounds. Read my tips on how to plan a trip to Japan for cherry blossom season.

More Kavey Eats Travel Quotes.

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18 Comments to "Travel Quote Tuesday | Japanese Culture and its Relationship with Nature"

  1. Lisa

    I’ve still not made it to Japan, but it’s one of my dream destinations. Tado Andao is someone completely new to me, but this quote is so powerful, and very true too! I’ve seen enough photos of Japanese architecture to understand the importance of its connection to nature.

  2. Anne

    I’ve never heard of this architect but I found his story fascinating. I’d love to visit Japan during cheery blossom season. It looks so pretty

  3. Anu

    All ancient cultures used to live in harmony with nature, taking benefits of living with it & without destroying it. It is when we started apeing the architecture of others and mindlessly building it in our environments that we lost the game. I seriously hope these quotes on Japanese architecture inspire some modern-day architects to re-think design for the ever warming globe.

  4. Jen Morrow

    I am so impressed by professionals that are largely self taught and can supplement via online courses. Frank Lloyd Wright is a good architect to inspire modern lines. I love how Japanese architecture is so open and inviting.

  5. Amar singh

    Beautifully post and great thinking. Love nature and Japan has plenty to offer that way. The story itself is so interesting. Japan is on my list to co er and this surely makes me want to visit all the more.

  6. Indrani

    Japan is very high on my dream destination list. Love their architectural style and how they are planned to be in harmony with nature. Good you could enjoy the cherry blossoms too.

  7. Shaily

    Wow! What a lovely post! Japan is on my bucket list and my desire to visit the country has grown stronger after reading this article. I would so love to visit these buildings that connect to the energies of Nature and the architecture that appears weightless even with the heavy building materials. I like the quote by Tadao Ando. It says a lot about the Japanese culture.

  8. Clarice

    I have always been fascinated with the Japanese culture and it is one of the main reasons why it is still my favorite destination. Thank you for sharing about these. They are very interesting and good-to-know.

  9. Tracie Howe

    You have to love Japan’s respect for nature and the desire to integrate it into the architecture. “Harmonious” is the perfect word to describe this. Lovely quote!

  10. Allison

    I’ve always loved Japanese architecture. Nature is always a huge surrounding so I can see how that relationship is tied together.

  11. Elaine Masters

    I haven’t read about this relationship between nature and architecture in Japan. It feels like a Shinto connection and resonates deeply with me. I so appreciate Japanese respect for the natural world.

  12. Layla

    This really gives me the drive to visit Japan finally! I enjoy cultures that respect nature and live with the value of it in everyday life! thanks so much for the lovely post and info.

  13. Marvi

    I’ve always admired how innovative Japanese architecture can be yet are in complete synchronisation with nature and its elements… I’ve never heard of Tadao Ando’s works though, but his story is very inspiring indeed!

  14. Ami Bhat

    I love the way you share your interpretation of these quotes. This one in particular, was so lovely to read. The concept of zen and how it is applied in the Japanese way of life is quite a lesson for all of us.

  15. Suruchi Mittal

    I loved the quote by Tadao Ando and his vision. It is great to design and build something which is a representation of pure nature. Still have to visit Japan, and I am sure I will see the architecture differently now.

  16. Jennifer Melroy

    It terms of modern construction, I agree with this quote but I look at some of the building in the US National Parks, they blend nicely with the landscape. I do love how the buildings in Japan will blend with the trees.


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