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Edo – Meiji period: Traditional cities and architecture in Japan

Presented by Masaki Koiwa
February 9, 2023

Japanese traditional architecture has consistently adopted structural systems using beams and wooden posts throughout history. This form was derived from its construction system, and each wooden component was removable and could be exchanged for a new one if it needed to be repaired. Regarding the traditional city, the concentration of economic and cultural activities within the urban area was a remarkable feature. At first urban activities were almost limited to main cities such as political capitals, and from the Sengoku period (XV-XVII century) feudal lords started to settle in their castle towns. During the Edo period (1600-1868), economic growth created large gaps between urban and rural areas, which sometimes caused social problems. From the Meiji period (1868-1912), Japan was rapidly westernised and industrialised by government policy, but the lifestyles of the common people changed very little, and more extensive modernisation was deferred to the next Taisho and Showa period.


Topics to be covered

  • Structure and Form in traditional Japanese Architecture
  • Aesthetic and Construction System
  • Repairing and Reconstruction issues
  • City and Housing in pre-modern Japan
  • Transition from Edo period to Modernity


Masaki Koiwa
Masaki Koiwa is Associate Professor in Department of Architecture at Waseda University, Japan, where he completed a PhD and a Master of Engineering.
His research fields are the sociology and history of science and technology, museology, cultural properties, architectural history and design. He is also a member of AIJ (Architectural Institute of Japan) and a former secretary for Research Committee on the History and Theory of Architecture.


This is the first of four events in the talk series, Transforming Cities, Buildings, And Culture.



February 9 (Thursday), 2023
6:00pm-7:30pm AEDT
45min talk + 30min Q&A
Onsite & online via Facebook Live (FB account not required)
Speaker to present remotely

Free; bookings not required


Find out about the Architecture Talk series.

Learn more

For onsite attendance, find us at:
The Japan Foundation, Sydney
Level 4, Central Park
28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008


(02) 8239 0055

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