The Best Japan Art & Architecture Books

“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



 

# Book Author Lists
(Titles Appear On 1 List Each)
11 2000 Years of Japanese Art Yukio Yashiro; Peter C. Swann Questia 2
12 A Century of Japanese Photography Nihon Shashinka Kyōkai Goodreads
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
15 A History of Modern Japanese Aesthetics Michael F. Marra Goodreads
16 A Japanese Touch For Your Garden
Japan Visitor 2
17
A Sky Longing for Memories: The Art of Makoto Shinkai
Concept Art Empire
18 Aida Makoto – Monument For Nothing Aida Makoto Goodreads
19 Akira Yamaguchi – The Big Picture Akira Yamaguchi (Artist) Goodreads
20
An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Japanese Family Crests
Japan Visitor 2
21 An Introduction to the Arts of Japan Peter C. Swann Questia 2
22 ARAKI by ARAKI
Japan Visitor 2
23 Araki: Tokyo Lucky Hole Nobuyoshi Araki (Photographs) Goodreads
24 Architects Today
Japan Visitor 1
25 Art of the Japanese Postcard J. Thomas Rimer; Anne Nishimura Morse
Boston University Libraries
26 Arts Of Japan Seiroku, Noma Biblio
27 Arts of Japan: Mfa Highlights Anne Morse (Editor) Goodreads
28 Baccano! Illustration Art Book
Concept Art Empire
29 Belladonna of Sadness: A Companion Book to the 1973 Cult Japanese Anime Film J.C. Gabel (Editor) Goodreads
30
Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty
Japan Visitor 1
31 Chikanobu: Modernity and Nostalgia in Japanese Prints Bruce Coats Goodreads
32 Chirri & Chirra Kaya Doi Goodreads
33 Cowboy Bebop Art Book
Concept Art Empire
34 Create Your Own Japanese Garden
Japan Visitor 1
35
Creative Space: Urban Homes of Artists and Innovators
Japan Visitor 3
36 Culture and Customs of Japan Noriko Kamachi Questia 2
37 Death Note Illustrations Art Book
Concept Art Empire
38
Der Mond: The Art of Neon Genesis Evangelion
Concept Art Empire
39 Dororo Osamu Tezuka Goodreads
40 Dragon Ball: The Complete Illustrations
Concept Art Empire
41
Duel Art: Kazuki Takahashi Yu-Gi-Oh! Illustrations
Concept Art Empire
42 Early Japanese Images
Japan Visitor 2
43 Edo Jo (Edo Castle, in Japanese) Abebooks
44 Edo No Machi, Part 1 Abebooks
45 EDO: Art in Japan 1615-1868 Robert T. Singer Goodreads
46 Epochs of Chinese and Japanese Art Ernest Fenollosa Goodreads
47 Essays on Japan: Between Aesthetics and Literature Michael Marra Goodreads
48 Experimental Arts in Postwar Japan: Moments of Encounter, Engagement, and Imagined Return Miryam Sas Goodreads
49 Fault Lines: Cultural Memory and Japanese Surrealism Miryam Sas Goodreads
50
Frog in the Well: Portraits of Japan by Watanabe Kazan, 1793-1841
Japan Visitor 3
51 From Castle to Teahouse: Japanese Architecture of the Momoyama Period John B. Kirby Jr Questia 1
52 Future Boy Conan Art Book
Concept Art Empire
53 Ghost in the Shell Original Collection
Concept Art Empire
54 Gift Wrapping with Textiles
Japan Visitor 2
55 Graphic Art Of Japan Holloway, Owen E Biblio
56 Guerilla 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
61 Hokusai – the Artist’s Library C J Holmes Biblio
62 Hokusai, First Manga Master Jocelyn Bouquillard Goodreads
63 Houses and Gardens of Kyoto
Japan Visitor 1
64 Images from the Floating World: The Japanese Print Richard J. Lane Goodreads
65 Impressions of Japanese Architecture and the Allied Arts Ralph Adams Cram Questia 1
66 Inside Game Design
Japan Visitor 3
67
Isamu Noguchi & Modern Japanese Ceramics
Japan Visitor 2
68 James Jean: Zugzwang James Jean (Artist) Goodreads
69 Japan Bradley Smith Biblio
70 Japan
Japan Visitor 3
71 Japan and Britain after 1859: Creating Cultural Bridges Olive Checkland Questia 2
72 Japan at the Dawn of the Modern Age Donald Keene, etal.
Boston University Libraries
73
Japan Journeys: Famous Woodblock Prints of Cultural Sights in Japan
Japan Visitor 3
74 Japan-Ness in Architecture Arata Isozaki Goodreads
75
Japan’s Master Gardens: Lessons in Space and Environment
Japan Visitor 4
76 Japanese Architecture William Alex Questia 1
77
Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics & Culture
Japan Visitor 4
78 Japanese Fine Arts Sagara, Tokuzo Biblio
79 Japanese Genre Painting: The Lively Art of Renaissance Japan Ichitaro Kondo; Roy Andrew Miller Questia 2
80 Japanese Hermeneutics: Current Debates on Aesthetics and Interpretation Michael F. Marra Goodreads
81 Japanese Ink-Painting: Lessons in Suiboku Technique Ryukyu Saito Questia 2
82 Japanese Kabuki Doll Book Biblio
83 Japanese Popular Prints: From Votive Slips To Playing Cards Rebecca Salter Goodreads
84 Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks: 1680 – 1900 Andreas Marks Goodreads
85
Japanscapes: Three Cameras, Three Journeys
Japan Visitor 2
86 Kazunomiya: Prisoner of Heaven, Japan, 1858 Kathryn Lasky Goodreads
87
Kimono Design: An Introduction to Textiles & Patterns
Japan Visitor 4
88 Kindai Mei Kenchiku: Kyoto Shashinkan Abebooks
89
Kingyo: The Artistry of Japanese Goldfish
Japan Visitor 4
90 Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji (In Japanese) Abebooks
91 Legend In Japanese Art Henri L Joly Biblio
92 Lineage of Eccentrics Matabei to Kuniyoshi Nobuo Tsuji Goodreads
93
Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life
Japan Visitor 2
94 Masterworks of Japanese Art Charles S. Terry; Charles S. Terry Questia 2
95 Minka to Machinami: Kanto Chubu Abebooks
96 Mobile Suit Gundam Art Book
Concept Art Empire
97 Monument for Nothing Makoto Aida Goodreads
98 Nanzenji (In Japanese) Abebooks
99 Nara Buddhist Art Kobayashi, Takeshi Biblio
100 New Hotel Design
Japan Visitor 1
101 New Japan Architecture
Japan Visitor 1
102 Obtaining Images: Art, Production and Display in Edo Japan Timon Screech Goodreads
103
Origins: The Creative Spark Behind Japan’s Best Product Designs
Japan Visitor 3
104 Photography in Japan: 1853-1912
Japan Visitor 3
105
Pictures and Words: New Comic Art and Narrative Illustration
Japan Visitor 3
106 Poemotion 2 Takahiro Kurashima Goodreads
107 Poemotion 3 Takahiro Kurashima Goodreads
108
Pokémon Adventures 20th Anniversary Illustrations
Concept Art Empire
109 RackGaki
Japan Visitor 3
110 Shiro to Jokamachi Abebooks
111 Shunga Evans, Tom and Mary Anne Biblio
112 Small Houses
Japan Visitor 1
113 Stampe Giapponesi Catherine David Goodreads
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
116 Tenmyouya Hisashi: Masterpiece Tenmyouya Hisashi (Artist) Goodreads
117 The Art and Architecture of Japan Alexander Soper; Robert Treat Paine Questia 1
118
The Art Lover’s Guide to Japanese Museums
Japan Visitor 2
119 The Art Of East Asia Fahr-Becker, Sabine Hesemann; Michael Dunn; Sri Kuhnt-Saptodewo; Editor-Gabrielle Biblio
120 The Art Of Fullmetal Alchemist
Concept Art Empire
121 The Art of Howl’s Moving Castle
Concept Art Empire
122 The Art of Kiki’s Delivery Service
Concept Art Empire
123 The Art of My Neighbor Totoro
Concept Art Empire
124 The Art of Spirited Away
Concept Art Empire
125 The Art Works of Lupin the Third
Concept Art Empire
126 The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, and Our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient Sheridan Prasso Goodreads
127 The Deep-Seated Grudge, Part 2 Kazuo Koike Goodreads
128 The Elements of Japanese Design: A Handbook of Family Crests, Heraldry & Symbolism John W. Dower Goodreads
129 The Folk Arts of Japan Hugo Munsterberg Questia 2
130 The Four Great Temples Abebooks
131 The History of Japanese Photography
Japan Visitor 2
132 The Japanese House and Garden Tetsuro Yoshida; Marcus G. Sims Questia 1
133 The Japanese Influence in America Clay Lancaster Questia 1
134 The Landscape Painting of China and Japan Hugo Munsterberg Questia 2
135 The Lesson of Japanese Architecture Jiro Harada Questia 1
136 The Pen – Ikeda Manabu Ikeda Manabu (Artist) Goodreads
137 The Secret Techniques of Bonsai
Japan Visitor 3
138 The Sketchbooks of Hiroshige Sherman E. Lee (Introduction) Goodreads
139 The Surviving Works Of Sharaku Harold G and Louis V Ledoux Henderson Biblio
140 The Tokaido Road: Traveling and Representation in EDO and Meiji Japan Jilly Traganou Goodreads
141 The Very Small Home
Japan Visitor 1
142 The World of the Meiji Print: Impressions of a New Civilization Julia Meech-Pekarik Questia 2
143
Tokyo Fashion City: A Guide to Tokyo’s Trendiest Fashion Districts
Japan Visitor 4
144 UTAMARO: A Chorus of Birds Utamaro Goodreads
145 Utamaro: Portraits from the Floating World Tadashi Kobayashi Goodreads
146 Utamaro: Songs of the garden Kitagawa Utamaro Goodreads
147 Uzumaki Naruto: Illustrations
Concept Art Empire
148 What is Japanese Architecture?
Japan Visitor 1
149 White Kenya Hara Goodreads
150 Yokai – Shigeru Mizuki Shigeru Mizuki (Artist) Goodreads
151 Yoshimasa and the Silver Pavilion
Japan Visitor 2
152 Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects Of The Moon John Stevenson Goodreads
153 Yu Yu Hakusho Art Book
Concept Art Empire
154 Zusetsu Heian-kyo Abebooks
155 鉄コン筋クリート[Tekkon KinKurîto ] All in One Taiyo Matsumoto Goodreads


11 Best Art & Architecture Book Sources/Lists



Source Article
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

 

A.M. Anderson:
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