Review Of "Traditional Japanese Architecture" Produced By NHK Productions

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This video, produced during the restoration of the Katsura Palace in Kyoto, which took place from 1976 well into early 1980s, records some of the work of dismantling, repairing, and reassembling of one of the best-known historic buildings in Japan. Though this segment, rather like a news report, is visually of some interest, the video for the rest is a skimpy tour of the Katsura ground, uninspired in cinematography and insipid in color (in the print reviewed), with a running commentary that says little of substance either historically or architecturally. It makes one wonder whom the video was meant to address, for credits are lacking and the title, taken from the concluding epithet that calls the Katsura "an index and a guide to traditional Japanese architecture," is totally misleading. Also misleading is the application of the term "medieval" to this building, and, too, the casual mention of its presumed resemblance to "wild geese in flight," the phrase that conventionally describes the staggered plan. Any major book on the Katsura informs better, e.g., A. Isozaki, Katsura Villa: Space and Form (CH, Oct'87), which provides, for less cost, a set of beautiful, informative, and more enduring postrestoration photographic records.


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