Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture, has developed a distinct architecture all its own, reflecting its subtropical setting and often harsh climate, as well as historical influences from mainland Japan and other countries, such as China and the United States.On this edition of Journeys in Japan, American architect James Lambiasi visits some of Okinawa's most notable buildings. He meets the local people and discovers the complex history that underlies its enduring culture.
1-1-1 Minato, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture
Shuri Castle Park
1-2 Shuri Kinjo-cho, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture
106 Ogusuku, Kitanakagusuku-son, Nakagami District, Okinawa Prefecture
Tel: +81-(0)98-935-3500 (in Japanese only)
Sakaemachi Market, 385 Asato, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture
Tel: +81-(0)98-884-6640 (in Japanese only)
430 Taketomi, Taketomi-cho, Yaeyama District, Okinawa Prefecture
Tel: +81-(0)980-85-2558 (in Japanese only)
Traveler: James Lambiasi > More Info
Length of residence in Japan: 26 years
Reason:It is a great privilege to work as an architect in Japan, as I have been able to learn from the highly sophisticated design sense here, as well discover the deep appreciation for craft that goes into construction.
Architecture both creates, and is created by, its surrounding environment. It can be influenced by factors such as the culture of its people, its geography or its climate. Through my journey in the beautiful islands of Okinawa, I was able to learn about its very complicated history and fascinating architecture. I was able to see firsthand how architecture develops and changes in accordance with its tropical island environment, remotely located yet influenced by surrounding countries.
Shuri Castle is an example of Ryukyu architecture demonstrating both Chinese and Japanese architectural styles. This architecture fits the tropical climate, while simultaneously preserving a record of the tumultuous history between Japan and China.
The Nakamura Family Residence, an 18th century home of a wealthy farmer, reflects the Chinese cultural traditions of Feng Shui, with a strategically placed stone entry to deflect unwanted spirits. Also protecting the house is the traditional shisa lion/dog that sits prominently on the red tile roof. This roof, strong enough to withstand the regular typhoons, shows how years of tradition and adaptation to the climate create a unique design through local methods and materials.
These historic places, as well as many contemporary buildings, all show the power of architecture to preserve and convey important stories about the history of a people, which can be passed on to generations to come. I will treasure the experiences I gained through seeing the architecture of Okinawa, and through feeling such warm hospitality from the people of Okinawa.