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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 14, 2014

Place, Environment, Atmosphere

Michael Lazarin
Pages 133-159

Phenomenology of Japanese Architecture: En (edge, connection, destiny)

Japanese architecture emphasizes transitional spaces between rooms rather than the rooms themselves. If these transitional spaces can be successfully realized, then everything in the room will naturally fall into place with anything else. This also applies to the relation between a building and other buildings stretching out through the whole city, and ultimately to the relation of the city to the natural environment. “En” is the Japanese word for such transitional spaces. It means both “edge” and “connection.” It also means destiny. When two people fall in love at fi rst sight or understand each other without having to speak, they are said to have “en.” This article provides a phenomenological description and constitutional analysis of two Japanese bridging structures: (1) the engawa at the side or back of a house or temple which functions as a veranda for viewing the garden and a hallway to connect the rooms, and (2) the hashigakari bridgeway of the Noh theater by which the principal actor gets from the green room to the stage.

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