Greek and Japanese Architecture For a great many years, architecture has been a breaking point for different artistic eras in history. Some of the most famous works of art have been chapels, temples, and tombs. Among the most dominant and influential eras of great architecture are the sophisticated, stoic Greece-Roman periods and the more mystical, elemental Japanese eras. These two very distinct and very different eras have more in common than you may realize.

When work began on the Parthenon in 447 BC, the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. Work on the temple continued until 432; the Parthenon, then, represents the tangible and visible blossoming of Athenian imperial power, impaired by the damages of the Peloponnesian War. Likewise, it symbolizes the power and influence of the Athenian politician, Perkiness, who championed its construction (Stokstad). Using a great number of different means of architectural development, i. e. groin vaults, barrel vaults, pedestals and the like, the Greeks dramatized their buildings and filled them with magnificent images.

Using the great artistry of the times, they sculpted, painted and decorated the monuments with great fervor and passion, all for the love of design, composition, and dynamic proportions. The graceful, smooth lines and elegant sculpture of the round, are reminiscent of another era of excellent architecture, the Japanese era. From the beginning of this century, Japanese architecture has influenced many western architects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Bruno Taut, and Walter Gropius. Its landscape architecture has long inspired park and garden designers on every continent. Currently, Japan's modern architecture is having a striking influence on global architecture. Japanese architecture is a inherent part of Japanese culture, and even Tokyo's most modern "high-tech" buildings draw their inspiration from old Japanese design.

Japan's ancient castles and palaces, timber houses, tatami-mat tea rooms and Zen gardens, Shinto shrines, and Buddhist temples, as well as the latest shopping centers, sports facilities, residential complexes, office towers, department stores, and high-tech structures are some excellent examples of Japanese Architecture (hku hist 2. hku. hk). Japan is described as a country of wood, and the reverence of natural materials. The depths of the love and admiration that the Japanese people have for wood are famous, which is similar to the Greek love of pristine marble and its smooth surfaces. This can be seen in an old Japanese expression "plants and trees all have something to say", Japanese believe that trees have a soul and say they can sense spirits, or "kami", within them.

It is trees that form the core which nurtures the sensibilities about nature held by the Japanese people. It is thus natural for architecture in Japan to be based on wood. Many structures are made of wood, ranging from shrines and temples to palaces and homes, and in doing so grand structures have been created (Stokstad). Castles and palaces dating from the end of the 16 th century, including Oda Nobunaga's Az uchi Castle and Toyo tomi Hideyoshi's Osaka Castle and Jurakudai Palace, are tall castle towers that rise into the sky at the center of groups of magnificent buildings executed in the Shoin style, decorated with carvings and wall paintings done on gold backgrounds. In some of these castles, tea rooms with plain thatched roofs were favored, with the rooms made as small as could be built. These two elements of magnificence and plainness jointly formed the tastefulness of the Mom oyama period (1568-1600).

However, these two factors by no means contradict one another: the basic principles are the same, and in a sense what developed was a double-layered structure where the inside and outside were one and the same (web). Similar to the Greeks, the Japanese artisans stressed the importance of both functionality and beauty in there designs for buildings. Each culture, although completely different, both inherited a great deal of respect for design. The Greeks used intricate sculpture and carvings to enhance the look and texture of their architecture, as the Japanese.

As seen in the By odo-in of the Heian period of Japan, also called the Phoenix Hall for its adoration the mystical bird, gracefulness and detail play a major part in the design and implementation. Built for the Fujiwara family in the eleventh century, this palace converted to a temple, houses a great deal of sculpture of the round like that of the Greek Parthenon. Every angle and curve has been handled with diamond like precision. The dramatic redirection of the lines in the roof and crisp ninety degree angles of the pillars and doorways mirror the smooth lines and elegant curves in the columns and the exaggerated proportions of the Parthenon. As with all eras in history, architecture (among other things) is a representative of the cultural heritage of the time period. The Greeks stressed the importance of their gods and goddesses where the Japanese valued not only their deities, but their leaders and teachers as well.

Both time periods using ornate and decorative skills to not only open up the buildings enclosures to give them a more airy, natural feel, but the take the viewers emotion to the point where they admire and respect the buildings and its heritage as much as the original architects and artisans.