Recognizing the Similar and Thus Accepting the Other: The European and Japanese Traditions of Building With Wood


Pragmatic building solutions
Building cultures

How to Cite

Zwerger, K. (2021). Recognizing the Similar and Thus Accepting the Other: The European and Japanese Traditions of Building With Wood. Journal of Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism, (2), 305–317.


This article shows that building issues have not been tackled fundamentally differently in Europe and Japan despite large cultural differences. Different cultural expressions must not necessarily be equated with different thinking. The paper contrasts two apparently contradictory views. Numerous analyses of Japanese “otherness” in “Western” as well as local perception dominate the literature. But the results of extensive architectural field surveys seem to indicate the contrary. These results show similar and equal backgrounds and conditions resulting in similar and equal building types and techniques. They show that our ways of addressing a task are prompted by pragmatism. Broadly identical solutions were developed worldwide long before globalization. Yet this realization does not allow us to conclude that equal appearances can be taken to be equal in content.


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