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Savoring the Subtle Beauty in Japanese Shoji

Written on May 31, 2009

A few years ago while in Kyoto, I booked an appointment to visit Katsura Detached Palace, the world-famous 17th century princely retreat, and one of Japan’s most beautiful architectural treasures.  Katsura-rikyu, as it is also called, is studied world-wide for the perfection in its proportions and details, and for the magnificent beauty of its restrained elegance.

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Katsura-rikyu’s architectural details are fascinating and endless.  I’m showing here a few details of shoji from but one corner of the palace.  This set of photos is  a mere sliver off the top of an Everest of stunning visual delights which Katsura-rikyu offers.

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You can see why I stopped to look carefully at these windows: I loved seeing the wood fretting of the windows through an overlay of washi paper, the seams of which are in counter-rhythm to that of the interior fenestration.

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Even though Katsura-rikyu is basically a heaven-on-earth and the abode of ancient Japanese royalty, staggeringly beautiful details in traditional Japanese architecture abound in all parts of Japan, from historically important public buildings to the homes of simple families.  Have a look at these photos–and enjoy!

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