Buddhist Architecture


寺院 jiin  tera / ji  in

Temples are places where buddhist images are housed, and priests and nuns reside to practise ascetic exercises and hold buddhist services. Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the 6th century. Temple constructions belong to the most important works of Japanese architecture and still form the basis of present design.


仏塔 buttô 

The five-storied pagoda (tô = tower) is the symbol of the Buddhist creed. The building houses what are said to be the remains of the Buddha or their substitute. Each of the five roofs respectively represents the Buddhist universe, earth, water, fire, wind and sky.

Shintô Architecture


神社 jinja,miya 神 宮 jingû 大社 taishayashiro

The shrine is where the gods (kami) of Japan´s indigenous religion, Shintô, are worshipped. In ancient times, natural objects, such as trees, rocks and mountains were worshipped as they were believed to contain deities. Later, shrines were built to house the objects that were believed to contain the deities spirits’ and believers of Shintô became to visit them to worship.

Shrine Gate

鳥居 torii

The gate at the entrance or on certain places in the area of a shrine is called a torii. It represents the division between the everyday world and the sacred world and is at the same time the symbol of a Shintô shrine. There used to be four styles of constructions – usually made out of wood. Today there are also torii made of stone, copper or even concrete.

Christian / Islamic Architecture


教会 kyôkai

Most Christian churches in Japan belong to the following mayor Christian church groups: Anglican Church of Japan, Assemblies of God, Japan Baptist Convention, Japan Baptist Union, Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church, Korean Christian Church in Japan, Mennonite Brethren, Presbyterian Church, Salvation Army and United Church of Christ in Japan.


回 教寺院 kaikyô-jiin

Japan has around 40 mosques. There has been a mosque in Tôkyô since the early 1900’s. The old Tokyô Jamii was inaugurated by Kazan Turkish emigrants in 1938 and was demolished in 1986. A new large-capacity mosque was rebuilt and funded mostly by private donations. Structured frame work was done by Kajima Corporation and finishing work was prepared by Turkish craftsmen and masters and completed in 2000.

Traditional Architecture


, shiro 城郭 jōkaku
The Japanese castle is a distinctive architectural form developed in the 16-17th century, during the nation’s Age of Warring States. Centered around a high tower known as the tenshukaku these castles are surrounded by moats (hori) to keep out potential invaders. Most castles are mounted with decorative sculptures of the shachihoko fish. According to Chinese legend, this fish spouts out water in case of fire, with the sculpture thus expressing the importance of fire prevention.


hashi, kyô

According to early chronicles, the first bridges in Japan emerged as early as the 4th century. Three centuries later a new technology for the bridge construction from Paecke (Korea) is imported. An example of pre-modern bridges is the kintai-kyo (1673) consisting of five wood arches. During the mEiji period (1868-1912) the first Western iron bridges were built.

Garden Architecture

造園術 zôen-jutsu

Japanese gardens can be topologically divided into three large groups – with subgroups and overlapping:
1. chitei = garden of the Heian period, paradise style garden, upper and lower two-tiered garden, changing or pleasure garden.
2. kare-san-sui = garden of stone and sand (landscape, in which nature elements are replaced by others); “Zen Garden”; “Dry landscaped garden”.
3. roji = tea garden (with a hint of a true landscape in the cutout).