Ise Jingu

History of Japanese Architecture, Edited by Architectural Institute of Japan, Published by Shokoku Co. Ltd.
New and Renew
While Izumo Taisha is famous for its enormous but ancient scale, Ise Jingu—Japan’s other main Shinto shrine—is well known for it longevity.

It is said to have first been established in the late fifty- or early sixth-century.  By the end of the seventh-century a tradition of periodic reconstruction was established.  The present style of building dates from the eighth-century.  And, apart from a period during the Sengoku-jidai (Warring States 1467-1568), the shrine has been reconstructed ever twenty years.  This means that the building standing on the site at present in 2017 is the result of the 62nd. rebuilding of the shrine.

Apart from its incredible heritage, it also represents some enduring features of traditional Japanese architecture.  As if that was not enough, it is also a manifestation of the Japanese people’s attitude toward things new.

The main Inner Shrine at Ise sits on a central axis and along with other buildings in the complex forms a symmetrical plan.  Whereas the entrance to the shrine at Izumo (this blog 12/08/2017) is under the roof gable and off centre. At Ise the building is approached under the eaves where there is a centrally placed entrance.

The Inner Shrine exhibits very ancient building techniques with the use of two ridge-bearing posts that are independent of the wall structure.  While the Inner Shrine is fairly refined in its design including the use of a raised gallery, it still reflects the assumed style of ancient grain storehouses.  The Treasury buildings on either side of it follow more faithfully ancient models and have structural post let into the ground.

There is a consummate sense of virtue about the buildings at Isetheir un-treated wood and clear-cut design gently declare their spirituality and are a glorification of newness per se.

Newly cut bamboo....
But while the Japanese people seem to extol newness, they are also resigned to the fact that things age.  In fact, in many cases they enthusiastically applaud the look of an ageing piece of lacquerware or the sense of history displayed by a silver grey bamboo fence.

...bleached bamboo and...
Timber buildings in Japan are allowed to grow old and yet still look good.  I once remarked to a Japanese friend that Horyuji Temple, which was built early in the seventh-century, might look good if it was restored using the original colours—white, dark red and green.  He replied, “you wouldn’t put make up on an old lady, would you?”

...well weathered bamboo twigs forming an elegant screen.
Bill Tingey Photo © Copyright

Do feel free to pass on the address of this blog to anyone you think will be interested.  Or share it on a social media site.  Should you wish to leave a comment, please do so by clicking on the comment mark at the bottom left of this or any of the other posts.   If you have found this blog interesting, why not become a follower.  Thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment