The Newsletter 65 Autumn 2013

The international nature of modernity

Natsuko Akagawa

Reviewed publication: Oshima, K.T. 2010. International Architecture in Interwar Japan: Constructing kokusai kenchiku. Seattle: Washington University Press, ISBN: 9780295989440

This fine contribution to the history of Japanese architecture provides a detailed analysis of the work of three infl uential architects of the interwar period. The book, however, achieves more than this: it presents the reader with a broad framework for understanding the nature of the cultural and intellectual links that fl owed between Japan and the West at the apex of the imperial era. Arguably, this was the high point of what is generally defined as ‘modernity’, and the theoretical premises upon which author, Ken Tadashi Oshima, bases his discussion certainly has relevance beyond the arena of Japanese architecture. Indeed, Oshima places the question of the international nature of modernity at the very centre of this book in a way that enhances his forensic detailing of uniquely Japanese response to the intellectual currents in these decades.

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