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Genealogical Research on East Asian Culture and Environment through Architecture


Unit Name:
Traditional Houses, Settlement, and Environment in East Asia
Unit representative:
Professor Masaki Fujikawa, Faculty of Engineering, Information and Systems

Unit members:
12 (6 faculty members, 2 postdoctoral fellows, 4 from other organizations)

Key words:
botanical resources, wooden architecture, mutual relationship, livelihood, sustainability


    How can we establish sustainable living environments as environmental destruction and urbanization proceed in modern society? The answers may be hidden in traditional housing and settlements, which have incorporated indigenous materials and technologies, as human wisdom.

    The research unit “Traditional Houses, Settlement, and Environment in East Asia”, consisting of a number of architectural specialists, conducts research, using multilateral approaches, on traditional houses and settlements, which are developed while maintaining their mutually supportive relationships with surrounding natural and social environments, to generate findings that help develop new communities. Based on the results of these studies, the unit also conducts genealogical analyses of East Asian culture.

Rediscovery of Japan by focusing on traditional houses

    As it is an urgent task to develop sustainable living environments, it has become increasingly important to learn from the wisdom of our ancestors incorporated in traditional houses and settlements. However, it is unfortunate that most studies on traditional housing and settlements are conducted separately and unsystematically.

    A large number of researchers implement research on traditional housing and settlements in the University of Tsukuba, and their joint research has generated significant findings.

    The research unit, consisting of those specialists, is known for its uniqueness in Japan and other countries. The research subjects are not confined to traditional houses. The research unit also conducts surveys on the status of forests and farmland in the vicinity of settlements (Figure 1). One of our research purposes is to help utilize valuable resources identified by such surveys for the development of towns within communities.

Figure 1: Field work in China

Figure 1: Field work in China

Research on changes in architectural culture since ancient times

    Architectural structures in East Asia reflect the values of people and their cultural backgrounds. In fact, some of the existing buildings and settlements in East Asia are almost identical to those from ancient Japan (Figure 2). However, there are no findings on exchanges among those people as well as ideological and cultural interactions.

    To clarify these areas, the research unit conducts multidisciplinary field research on relationships between traditional houses, settlements, and environments in Japan and other East Asian countries. We consider that the origin of East Asian culture can be clarified by conducting rigorous research on the process of historical development of wooden architectural culture in overall East Asian area.

Figure 2: Fields and houses in a mountainous area of China that resemble Japanese terraced paddy fields and groups of warehouses

Figure 2: Fields and houses in a mountainous area of China that resemble Japanese terraced paddy fields and groups of warehouses

Social contributions and achievements
● Restructuring research on the histories of traditional houses and settlements with a focus on the relationship between natural and social environments
● Acquisition of basic knowledge of the conservation and restoration of existing traditional houses and settlements
● Acquisition of basic knowledge of methods for developing sustainable living environments

(Interviewed on October 21, 2013)

Research Administration/Management Office at U Tsukuba TEL 029-853-4434