Japanese Detail: Architecture by Sadao Hibi & The Art of Japanese Architecture by David and Machiko Young
Both of these architecture books are unique to the standard Japanese architecture books I’ve looked through in the past. Generally, the standards fall into the categories of brief overviews of large buildings, cities and complexes and twee collections of tea houses and kawaii buildings. Japanese Detail zooms in on the flourishes and touches that can make many Japanese a building so special and unique. Sections include crests, roof-lines, shelving, doors, paving stones, carved lintels and more, each photographed at close range. Minute attention to detail makes the most mundane part of a building seems special and well-thought out.
The Art of Japanese Architecture takes a historic view of the evolution of Japanese architecture, along with outside influences from China, Korea and the west. While there are some palaces and manor houses, they are used to illustrate the progression of styles, not to simply glorify their size and complexity. I particularly enjoy the beautiful homes and shops of the middle/merchant class with their elegant simplicity.
If you want to “wander” around one of the lovely villages featured in The Art of Japanese Architecture, put “Ogimachi, Shirakawa, Gifu Prefecture, Japan” in google maps and use street view to wander up and down village streets. Lovely and otherworldly.