There are structures all around Japan that have endured for 1000 years. Regardless of the architecture, they are all brimming with historical ambiance and provide us with something that is definitely distinct from the structures we encounter on a daily basis. Here are eight must-see structures in Japan having a history of over 1000 years. 1. Hiraizumi Park Hotel The oldest hotel in Japan was built in 1603 by a warlord who wanted to show off his wealth. Today, it's one of the most affordable hotels in Hiraizumi. 2. Nara National Museum The largest museum in Japan has more than 10 million objects in its collection. It covers an area of about 1.5 million square feet, and the majority of its exhibits are from within Nara Prefecture. 3. Ritsurin Garden An elegant garden with no less than 27 rocks drawn from all over Japan planted by the lord of the manor in 1708. 4. Chion-in Monastery Established in 1393 when the order of monks known as the Zen sect was introduced to Japan, this monastery in Kyoto has been thriving ever since. Its main temple is covered in beautiful flowers throughout spring and summer. 5. Kinkaku-ji Temple One of Japan's best-known landmarks is this complex in Kyoto dedicated to Amida Buddha. Construction began in 1443 and it took more than 100 years to complete everything inside the main temple. 6. Todai-ji Temple One of Japan's biggest buddhist temples is also one of its most impressive sights.
The following are some outstanding examples of Japanese architecture in Japan.
While much of Japan's historic buildings and districts have been destroyed over the ages due to fires, earthquakes, wars, and urban redevelopment, some cities and towns have managed to conserve a street block or an entire district of traditional structures for inhabitants and tourists to enjoy today.
For example, Kyoto has more than 800 designated "Historic Areas", while Tokyo has about 50 such locations. These areas range from small neighborhoods to whole cities, and include examples of everything from samurai housing to modern office buildings. They're worth visiting not only for their architectural beauty but also for providing insight into Japanese culture over time.
In addition to ancient buildings, parts of Japan's contemporary cities contain notable examples of architecture. For instance, Seattle's Pioneer Square is home to several Victorian-era brick buildings that have been restored to their original glory. And San Francisco's Financial District is made up of skyscrapers built after World War II that have become symbols of the city.
The reason why Japan has so many historic buildings is because they were built well before the advent of industrialization, when wood was used instead of steel for construction. As a result, most buildings in Japan are made out of wood, with its natural decay causing them to deteriorate over time rather than destroy them as in other countries where building demolitions are common.
I'm a big fan of architecture, from towering skyscrapers to small-town cottages that seem like tin shacks. The majority of residential structures in Tokyo, as well as throughout Japan, are tiny and tidy. They're called "yanagi-zukuri" after their inventor, Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu.
These houses were designed for ease of construction and maintenance. For example, there's no need for doors or windows on the exterior walls because everything is open inside the house. The only opening is a small hatch at the level of the doorframe for entering and exiting.
Also unique to Japan is the use of timber instead of stone or brick for building homes. The wood is usually oak or pine, and often painted black. There are also temples in Tokyo built entirely out of wood. Ancient trees, some dating back more than 500 years, are cut down to build the temple.
Besides being beautiful to look at, these buildings are very energy efficient. They don't require heating or air conditioning because all the rooms are naturally heated by the sun during the winter and cooled by the sun during the summer. Also, there's no water supply or sewer system, so every home has its own well and toilet hole.
The first is that Japanese dwellings are only supposed to endure 30 years. The belief that Japanese houses self-destruct after three decades is a result of the government's goal to keep the economy humming with a steady need for residential building, since the 30-year time restriction was devised by the Land Ministry. If demand fell off, then the government would not be able to meet its obligation to provide land for housing.
The second reason is that the country is really big. Even though Tokyo is the most populated city in Japan with over 13 million people, it occupies just 0.5 percent of the land area of the country. Most Japanese cities are small, so it's not surprising that they average about 1,000 people per square mile. By comparison, America's largest city, Los Angeles, has 4 million people but only 250 people per square mile.
Japanese cities were originally much more spread out than today. The emperor himself had gardens and parks at his residence where he could walk among trees and flowers rather than seeing them as mere scenery between buildings. When factories came to Japan, they usually went into existing towns or cities, which tended to focus development in specific areas. This is why neighborhoods in Japan have names like "Industry" or "Business District." There's no such thing as an ordinary suburb in Japan!
Even though Japan has huge cities and small villages, they all use traditional building techniques which limit their lifespan.