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The Best Japan Art & Architecture Books

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“What are the best books about Japanese Art & Architecture?” We looked at 155 of the top books, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 10 titles, all appearing on 2 “Best Art & Architecture” book lists, are ranked below by how many lists they appear on. The remaining 100+ titles, as well as the lists we used are in alphabetical order at the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 10 Japanese Art Books



10 .) Courtyard Gardens of Kyoto’s Merchant Houses by Katsuhiko Mizuno

Lists It Appears On:

  • Japan Visitor 3
  • Japan Visitor 4

“One of the pleasures of visiting Kyoto is to wander around narrow streets lined with machiya, the traditional townhouses of the merchant class. Tucked away inside each of these unusually long, narrow dwellings is a hidden oasis: a small garden known as the tsuboniwa. Following on from Landscapes for Small Spaces and The Hidden Gardens of Kyoto, the third book by garden enthusiast and photographer Katsuhiko Mizuno focuses on these miniature courtyard gardens of the machiya.
A wide variety of gardens are beautifully photographed and presented: from those in shops, inns, restaurants, and tearooms, to gardens in many private homes. A total of 150 color images from fifty-two houses showcase the flawless Kyoto aesthetic and use of limited space. Surrounding architectural features, such as shoji sliding doors, reed blinds, beams, railings, and walkways are also featured.
Each photograph is accompanied by analytical and insightful comments from the author, making this a useful reference book for all garden lovers, as well as a visual feast for anyone with an interest in traditional Japanese design.”

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9 .) Discovering the Arts of Japan: A Historical Overview by Tsuneko S. Sadao

Lists It Appears On:

  • Japan Visitor 1
  • Japan Visitor 2

This handy reference book is perfect for anyone interested in Japanese art, whether they be art history students and enthusiasts or tourists visiting Japan. A comprehensive overview of the major trends in art throughout the history of Japan, Discovering the Arts of Japan includes a select bibliography and list of major museums housing collections of Japanese art. Handsomely presented and easy-to-use, this book offers a valuable introduction to the subject, and encourages further in-depth study of specific periods and art forms.

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8 .) Eikoh Hosoe: Kamaitachi by Eikō Hosoe

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Goodreads

Fans of Japanese culture, for a little more than the cost of the prix-fixe sushi dinner at New York restaurant Masa, you can own one of the classics of Japanese photography. More than 35 years after it first appeared, Kamaitachi, a long out-of-print masterwork by Japanese photographer Eikoh Hosoe, gets its first publication outside Japan. Not just a reprint but a recreation in collaboration with the photographer and in homage to the innovative original, this limited edition holds 40 black-and-white tritone images, each of which receives the scope of a gatefold. Slipcased and protected by a clamshell box, the book is not just a publication but an objet d’art in itself. Hosoe was known for pushing the boundaries of traditional photography through his interactions with important Japanese artists such as Butoh dancer Tasumi Hijikata and novelist Yukio Mishima. In Kamaitachi, he sought to recapture, with choreographic style, some of the lost landscapes and images of his childhood experience in the closing years of World War II.

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7 .) New Bar and Club Design by Bethan Ryder

Lists It Appears On:

  • Japan Visitor 1
  • Japan Visitor 2

The sequel to the highly successful and critically praised book, Bar and Club Design, New Bar and Club Design is an elegant photographic journey through the latest international design trends in the bar and club industries, highlighting locations completed since 2001. New Bar and Club Design documents a resurgence of cocktail culture and an explosion of the style bar, places that are professionally designed and serve high-quality spirits, wine, and cocktails. Such bars have continued to open in cities such as New York, London, and Tokyo, as well as in locales like Beirut and Bangkok. Bethan Ryder has also documented a new interest in creating lower budget designer bars that are as visually interesting and unusually designed as the big-budget productions, such as Andy Wahloo in Paris and Loungelover in London. Club culture also continues to thrive, albeit on a far smaller scale than the superclubs of the 1990s. Nightclubs have grown cozier. Late-night lounge bars have emerged to cater to the grown-up clubber, offering comfort and luxury. The futuristic superclubs still being built now offer the very latest in technology and audiovisual entertainment. Divided by category into bars and restaurant bars, hotel bars, and clubs, each profile includes imaginative photographs, thoughtful descriptions, and architectural plans of the design. Sure to be an excellent guide for bar and club owners, architects, and designers, New Bar and Club Design also will appeal to travelers and trendsetters of every description.

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6 .) Shibori: The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped Resist Dyeing by Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada

Lists It Appears On:

  • Japan Visitor 3
  • Japan Visitor 4

“Potential for creating designs in textiles can be seen even in the physical properties of cloth. The simple fact that cloth tightly compressed into wrinkles or folds resists the penetration of dye is an opportunity-an opportunity to let the pliancy of textiles speak in making designs and patterns.

People around the world have recognized this opportunity, producing resist designs in textiles by shaping and then securing cloth in various ways before dyeing. Yet in no other country has the creative potential of this basic principle been understood and applied as it has in Japan. Here, in fact, it has been expanded into a whole family of traditional resist techniques, involving first shaping the cloth by plucking, pinching, twisting, stitching, folding, pleating, and wrapping it, and then securing the shapes thus made by binding, looping, knotting, clamping, and the like. This entire family of techniques is called shibori. “

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5 .) The Fine Art of Kimono Embroidery by Shizuka Kusano

Lists It Appears On:

  • Japan Visitor 3
  • Japan Visitor 4

Shizuka Kusano is one of the most admired and recognized textile artists in Japan today. With the publication of The Fine Art of Kimono Embroidery, readers in the West will come to know and appreciate her work for its great beauty and grace. Kusano’s canvases are kimono, obi (the sash used to tie the kimono) and tapestries, on which she creates extraordinary compositions in brilliant color and subtle tones, with a rich contrast in textures. Her themes are drawn from Japanese poetry, literature and art, and feature such seasonal motifs as trees, flowers, birds, and streams, designs which are uniquely Japanese in sensibility and expression. Working exclusively with silk threads and fabric, and delicately balancing the use of space in her composition, Kusano’s designs achieve the sophistication for which the best Japanese art is known.

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4 .) Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence by Andrew Juniper

Lists It Appears On:

  • Japan Visitor 1
  • Japan Visitor 2

Taken from the Japanese words wabi, which translates to less is more, and sabi, which means attentive melancholy, wabi sabi refers to an awareness of the transient nature of earthly things and a corresponding pleasure in the things that bear the mark of this impermanence. As much a state of mind—an awareness of the things around us and an acceptance of our surroundings—as it is a design style, wabi sabi begs us to appreciate the pure beauty of life—a chipped vase, a quiet rainy day, the impermanence of all things. Presenting itself as an alternative to today’s fast-paced, mass-produced, neon-lighted world, wabi sabi reminds us to slow down and take comfort in the natural beauty around us.

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3 .) Warriors of Art: A Guide to Contemporary Japanese Artists by Yumi Yamaguchi

Lists It Appears On:

  • Japan Visitor 3
  • Japan Visitor 4

Recently the West has been inundated by a steady flow of images from manga, anime, and the video games that are a key part of todays Japanese visual culture. At the same time, Japanese contemporary artists are gaining a higher profile overseas: many Westerners are already familiar with Takashi Murakamis brightly colored, cartoonlike characters, or with Junko Mizunos grotes-cute Lolita-style girls. Perhaps less familiar are the absurd fighting machines of Kenji Yanobe, the many disguises of Tomoko Sawada, or the grotesque fairytale landscapes of Tomoko Konoike. Warriors of Art features the work of forty of the latest and most relevant contemporary Japanese artists, from painters and sculptors, to photographers and performance artists, with lavish full-color spreads of their key works. Author Yumi Yamaguchi offers an insightful introduction to the main themes of each artist, and builds up a fascinating portrait of the society that has given birth to them: a Japan that still bears the scars of atomic destruction, a Japan with a penchant for the cute and the childish, a Japan whose manga and anime industries have come to dominate the world.

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2 .) Japanese Art by Joan Stanley-Baker

Lists It Appears On:

  • Biblio
  • Goodreads

The uniqueness of Japanese culture rests on the fact that, throughout its history, Japan has continually taken, adapted, and transformed diverse influences from Korea, China, the South Seas, Europe, and the Americas into distinct traditions of its own. Extensively revised, updated, and expanded since its first publication, this authoritative survey of the arts of Japan from the prehistoric period to the present brings together the results of the most recent research on the subject. Profusely illustrated with examples from all the arts―painting, calligraphy, the decorative arts, and architecture―and with a wide-ranging bibliography, Japanese Art addresses itself equally to those who come to the subject for the first time and to the student. It is a concise overview of a fascinating and perplexing culture in which interest has never been greater than it is today.

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1 .) Japanese Castles 1540-1640

Lists It Appears On:

  • Japan Visitor 1
  • Abebooks

The landscape of 16th- and 17th-century Japan was dominated by the graceful and imposing castles constructed by the powerful ‘daimyo’ of the period. In this the most turbulent era in Japanese history, these militarily sophisticated structures provided strongholds for the consolidation and control of territory, and inevitably they became the focus for many of the great sieges of Japanese history: Nagashino (1575), Kitanosho (1583), Odawara (1590), Fushimi (1600), Osaka (1615) and Hara (1638), the last of the battles that brought an end to a period of intense civil war. This title traces their development from the earliest timber stockades to the immense structures that dominated the great centres of Osaka and Edo.

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The 100+ Additional Best Japanese Architecture Books



 

#BookAuthorLists
(Titles Appear On 1 List Each)
112000 Years of Japanese ArtYukio Yashiro; Peter C. SwannQuestia 2
12A Century of Japanese PhotographyNihon Shashinka KyōkaiGoodreads
13
A Guide to the Gardens of Kyoto (revised edition)
Japan Visitor 4
14
A Guide to the Japanese Stage: From Traditional to Cutting Edge
Japan Visitor 2
15A History of Modern Japanese AestheticsMichael F. MarraGoodreads
16A Japanese Touch For Your Garden
Japan Visitor 2
17
A Sky Longing for Memories: The Art of Makoto Shinkai
Concept Art Empire
18Aida Makoto – Monument For NothingAida MakotoGoodreads
19Akira Yamaguchi – The Big PictureAkira Yamaguchi (Artist)Goodreads
20
An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Japanese Family Crests
Japan Visitor 2
21An Introduction to the Arts of JapanPeter C. SwannQuestia 2
22ARAKI by ARAKI
Japan Visitor 2
23Araki: Tokyo Lucky HoleNobuyoshi Araki (Photographs)Goodreads
24Architects Today
Japan Visitor 1
25Art of the Japanese PostcardJ. Thomas Rimer; Anne Nishimura Morse
Boston University Libraries
26Arts Of JapanSeiroku, NomaBiblio
27Arts of Japan: Mfa HighlightsAnne Morse (Editor)Goodreads
28Baccano! Illustration Art Book
Concept Art Empire
29Belladonna of Sadness: A Companion Book to the 1973 Cult Japanese Anime FilmJ.C. Gabel (Editor)Goodreads
30
Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty
Japan Visitor 1
31Chikanobu: Modernity and Nostalgia in Japanese PrintsBruce CoatsGoodreads
32Chirri & ChirraKaya DoiGoodreads
33Cowboy Bebop Art Book
Concept Art Empire
34Create Your Own Japanese Garden
Japan Visitor 1
35
Creative Space: Urban Homes of Artists and Innovators
Japan Visitor 3
36Culture and Customs of JapanNoriko KamachiQuestia 2
37Death Note Illustrations Art Book
Concept Art Empire
38
Der Mond: The Art of Neon Genesis Evangelion
Concept Art Empire
39DororoOsamu TezukaGoodreads
40Dragon Ball: The Complete Illustrations
Concept Art Empire
41
Duel Art: Kazuki Takahashi Yu-Gi-Oh! Illustrations
Concept Art Empire
42Early Japanese Images
Japan Visitor 2
43Edo Jo (Edo Castle, in Japanese)Abebooks
44Edo No Machi, Part 1Abebooks
45EDO: Art in Japan 1615-1868Robert T. SingerGoodreads
46Epochs of Chinese and Japanese ArtErnest FenollosaGoodreads
47Essays on Japan: Between Aesthetics and LiteratureMichael MarraGoodreads
48Experimental Arts in Postwar Japan: Moments of Encounter, Engagement, and Imagined ReturnMiryam SasGoodreads
49Fault Lines: Cultural Memory and Japanese SurrealismMiryam SasGoodreads
50
Frog in the Well: Portraits of Japan by Watanabe Kazan, 1793-1841
Japan Visitor 3
51From Castle to Teahouse: Japanese Architecture of the Momoyama PeriodJohn B. Kirby JrQuestia 1
52Future Boy Conan Art Book
Concept Art Empire
53Ghost in the Shell Original Collection
Concept Art Empire
54Gift Wrapping with Textiles
Japan Visitor 2
55Graphic Art Of JapanHolloway, Owen EBiblio
56Guerilla Art
Japan Visitor 3
57
Heian Kenchiku (Heian Architecture, in Japanese)
Abebooks
58
Higi Kaifu: Kasuga Taisha – Ikite Iru Shosoin
Abebooks
59
Hiroshige: Japan’s Great Landscape Artist
Japan Visitor 3
60
Historic Rings: Four Thousand Years of Craftsmanship
Japan Visitor 2
61Hokusai – the Artist’s LibraryC J HolmesBiblio
62Hokusai, First Manga MasterJocelyn BouquillardGoodreads
63Houses and Gardens of Kyoto
Japan Visitor 1
64Images from the Floating World: The Japanese PrintRichard J. LaneGoodreads
65Impressions of Japanese Architecture and the Allied ArtsRalph Adams CramQuestia 1
66Inside Game Design
Japan Visitor 3
67
Isamu Noguchi & Modern Japanese Ceramics
Japan Visitor 2
68James Jean: ZugzwangJames Jean (Artist)Goodreads
69JapanBradley SmithBiblio
70Japan
Japan Visitor 3
71Japan and Britain after 1859: Creating Cultural BridgesOlive ChecklandQuestia 2
72Japan at the Dawn of the Modern AgeDonald Keene, etal.
Boston University Libraries
73
Japan Journeys: Famous Woodblock Prints of Cultural Sights in Japan
Japan Visitor 3
74Japan-Ness in ArchitectureArata IsozakiGoodreads
75
Japan’s Master Gardens: Lessons in Space and Environment
Japan Visitor 4
76Japanese ArchitectureWilliam AlexQuestia 1
77
Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics & Culture
Japan Visitor 4
78Japanese Fine ArtsSagara, TokuzoBiblio
79Japanese Genre Painting: The Lively Art of Renaissance JapanIchitaro Kondo; Roy Andrew MillerQuestia 2
80Japanese Hermeneutics: Current Debates on Aesthetics and InterpretationMichael F. MarraGoodreads
81Japanese Ink-Painting: Lessons in Suiboku TechniqueRyukyu SaitoQuestia 2
82Japanese Kabuki Doll BookBiblio
83Japanese Popular Prints: From Votive Slips To Playing CardsRebecca SalterGoodreads
84Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks: 1680 – 1900Andreas MarksGoodreads
85
Japanscapes: Three Cameras, Three Journeys
Japan Visitor 2
86Kazunomiya: Prisoner of Heaven, Japan, 1858Kathryn LaskyGoodreads
87
Kimono Design: An Introduction to Textiles & Patterns
Japan Visitor 4
88Kindai Mei Kenchiku: Kyoto ShashinkanAbebooks
89
Kingyo: The Artistry of Japanese Goldfish
Japan Visitor 4
90Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji (In Japanese)Abebooks
91Legend In Japanese ArtHenri L JolyBiblio
92Lineage of Eccentrics Matabei to KuniyoshiNobuo TsujiGoodreads
93
Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life
Japan Visitor 2
94Masterworks of Japanese ArtCharles S. Terry; Charles S. TerryQuestia 2
95Minka to Machinami: Kanto ChubuAbebooks
96Mobile Suit Gundam Art Book
Concept Art Empire
97Monument for NothingMakoto AidaGoodreads
98Nanzenji (In Japanese)Abebooks
99Nara Buddhist ArtKobayashi, TakeshiBiblio
100New Hotel Design
Japan Visitor 1
101New Japan Architecture
Japan Visitor 1
102Obtaining Images: Art, Production and Display in Edo JapanTimon ScreechGoodreads
103
Origins: The Creative Spark Behind Japan’s Best Product Designs
Japan Visitor 3
104Photography in Japan: 1853-1912
Japan Visitor 3
105
Pictures and Words: New Comic Art and Narrative Illustration
Japan Visitor 3
106Poemotion 2Takahiro KurashimaGoodreads
107Poemotion 3Takahiro KurashimaGoodreads
108
Pokémon Adventures 20th Anniversary Illustrations
Concept Art Empire
109RackGaki
Japan Visitor 3
110Shiro to JokamachiAbebooks
111ShungaEvans, Tom and Mary AnneBiblio
112Small Houses
Japan Visitor 1
113Stampe GiapponesiCatherine DavidGoodreads
114
Steins;Gate Art Works Imaginations of Huke
Concept Art Empire
115
Super Potato Design: The Complete Works of Takashi Sugimoto: Japan’s Leading Interior Designer
Japan Visitor 1
116Tenmyouya Hisashi: MasterpieceTenmyouya Hisashi (Artist)Goodreads
117The Art and Architecture of JapanAlexander Soper; Robert Treat PaineQuestia 1
118
The Art Lover’s Guide to Japanese Museums
Japan Visitor 2
119The Art Of East AsiaFahr-Becker, Sabine Hesemann; Michael Dunn; Sri Kuhnt-Saptodewo; Editor-GabrielleBiblio
120The Art Of Fullmetal Alchemist
Concept Art Empire
121The Art of Howl’s Moving Castle
Concept Art Empire
122The Art of Kiki’s Delivery Service
Concept Art Empire
123The Art of My Neighbor Totoro
Concept Art Empire
124The Art of Spirited Away
Concept Art Empire
125The Art Works of Lupin the Third
Concept Art Empire
126The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, and Our Fantasies of the Exotic OrientSheridan PrassoGoodreads
127The Deep-Seated Grudge, Part 2Kazuo KoikeGoodreads
128The Elements of Japanese Design: A Handbook of Family Crests, Heraldry & SymbolismJohn W. DowerGoodreads
129The Folk Arts of JapanHugo MunsterbergQuestia 2
130The Four Great TemplesAbebooks
131The History of Japanese Photography
Japan Visitor 2
132The Japanese House and GardenTetsuro Yoshida; Marcus G. SimsQuestia 1
133The Japanese Influence in AmericaClay LancasterQuestia 1
134The Landscape Painting of China and JapanHugo MunsterbergQuestia 2
135The Lesson of Japanese ArchitectureJiro HaradaQuestia 1
136The Pen – Ikeda ManabuIkeda Manabu (Artist)Goodreads
137The Secret Techniques of Bonsai
Japan Visitor 3
138The Sketchbooks of HiroshigeSherman E. Lee (Introduction)Goodreads
139The Surviving Works Of SharakuHarold G and Louis V Ledoux HendersonBiblio
140The Tokaido Road: Traveling and Representation in EDO and Meiji JapanJilly TraganouGoodreads
141The Very Small Home
Japan Visitor 1
142The World of the Meiji Print: Impressions of a New CivilizationJulia Meech-PekarikQuestia 2
143
Tokyo Fashion City: A Guide to Tokyo’s Trendiest Fashion Districts
Japan Visitor 4
144UTAMARO: A Chorus of BirdsUtamaroGoodreads
145Utamaro: Portraits from the Floating WorldTadashi KobayashiGoodreads
146Utamaro: Songs of the gardenKitagawa UtamaroGoodreads
147Uzumaki Naruto: Illustrations
Concept Art Empire
148What is Japanese Architecture?
Japan Visitor 1
149WhiteKenya HaraGoodreads
150Yokai – Shigeru MizukiShigeru Mizuki (Artist)Goodreads
151Yoshimasa and the Silver Pavilion
Japan Visitor 2
152Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects Of The MoonJohn StevensonGoodreads
153Yu Yu Hakusho Art Book
Concept Art Empire
154Zusetsu Heian-kyoAbebooks
155鉄コン筋クリート[Tekkon KinKurîto ] All in OneTaiyo MatsumotoGoodreads


11 Best Art & Architecture Book Sources/Lists



SourceArticle
Abebooks Japanese Architecture
Biblio JAPANESE ART
Boston University Libraries Art & Architecture of Japan
Concept Art Empire 20 Best Anime Art Books: The Ultimate Collection
Goodreads Popular Japanese Art Books
Japan Visitor 1 Architecture Books
Japan Visitor 2 Japan Art Books
Japan Visitor 3 Japan Art Books II
Japan Visitor 4 Japan Art Books III
Questia 1 Japanese Architecture
Questia 2 Japanese Art