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Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty
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Manufacturer: Kodansha International
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5

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Binding: Hardcover
Dewey Decimal Number: 728.810952
EAN: 9784770029546
ISBN: 4770029543
Label: Kodansha International
Manufacturer: Kodansha International
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 112
Publication Date: 2004-01-09
Publisher: Kodansha International
Studio: Kodansha International

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Editorial Reviews:

The Castles of Japan are both technical and aesthetic marvels. They are technical marvels in that they are perfectly suited to their roles of defensive fortresses and administrative centers in time of war. They are aesthetic marvels in that every curve and line reflects an extraordinary sense of beauty. How these castles came about, how they were built, and what their ultimate fate was, all this is depicted in sensitive prose and eye-opening photography.
The book is divided into four parts. The first deals with the question of who built these castles and why, taking a incisive look at Japanese history and the internecine fighting between samurai clans. The second part takes up the castle as a fortress - the importance of its location, its layout, stone walls and moats, towers, gates, shooting holes, and stone drops. The third part considers the beauty of the castle as a symbol, explaining not only the intricate craftsmanship seen in structural detail but also the aesthetics of the samurai class itself.
Whether for people who are interested in castles themselves and wish to compare Japanese castles with others they are familiar with, or for people who would like to know more about this unique example of world architecture, or for those who would like to add to their knowledge of samurai and Japanese culture, Castles of the Samurai provides a delightful visual treat and absorbing reading experience. The book also contains information for tourists who plan to visit the sites of the surviving castles.

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Not Your Average "Jo"...
Comment: Having bought this book based on the cover and title (with no review or other information posted) I was expecting a coffee table type book with lots of pretty photos and light on the text. It turned out that this book is not your average "jo" (the Japanese suffix used after a castle's name to denote "castle"-Himeji-Jo, Nijo-jo, etc). Happily, while it does have lots of "pretty photos" it also has a solid 42 pages of well written and informative text. The photos are well done, all 50+ full color pages of them. They document all the aspects of the Japanese castle-gates, towers, roofing, gables, outbuildings, doors, stone dropping windows, shooting holes, nail head covers, and of course those impressive sloping stone walls, moats, and keeps with photos of each aspect being grouped for comparison. There are even well done shots of the interiors of various castles, which are somewhat of a rarity. The shots are taken at a nice variety of castles as well, eschewing the easy method of running primarily nothing but shots of the easily accessible castles like Himeji, Osaka, and Matsumoto.
The text is also well done, with informative, well done diagrams, charts, tables, and terminology. While most English language Japanese castle books focus on the military history of the structures, here they are given their signifigance as works of art and architecture as well. Detailed construction methods are given and illustrated. There are brief sections of the history of the castles and their destruction during the Meiji Restoration and World War II. I found the chart listing Castles, Daimyos, Domains, and Income in the Edo Period particularly valuable along with a table classifying existing castles as to date built, remains, type of keep, original buildings, walls, or keeps, and reconstructions using original materials or concrete. The only place the book comes up short is in the discussion of early castles or yamashiro (mountain castles), but of course there aren't any of these left to photograph. Overall a great job and a welcome addition to the sparse English references on Japanese Castles.

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