My feeling after I graduated from Japan.


I came to studied Master degree in Japan because I think there are a lot of interesting architecture here.

I hoped  I could learn process how to design a building that relates to human life and social more than design a beautiful building.
But no, when I and foreign students have projects with Japanese students, they start from form first without studying about circulation or area requirement.

I came to studied Master degree in Japan because I think there are a lot of interesting architecture here.

I hoped  I could learn process how to design a building that relates to human life and social more than design a beautiful building.
But no, when I and foreign students have projects with Japanese students, they start from form first without studying about circulation or area requirement.

Actually, they spent their time to design a beautiful thing without process, no question, no purpose. not research design. Adviser seldom comes to check student work.

When we do qualitative research, my adviser doesn't understand the meaning of theory, theoretical framework or conceptual framework. 
no need to ask other Japanese students, nobody understands it.
Our adviser only asks us to find an interesting thing in our thesis, not about process.

We feel they care only end product without process how we do it, how to gain knowledge after we graduate.
We feel its not different from Japanese architecture in nowadays that focus only weird form.

A lot of Japanese architects be famous because they try to design weird building + high technology from an engineer, just make some story after their building finish. Its different from architects who have critical thinking when design.

Here, For me, I dont know, if they dont know how to design like a research, focus only beautiful form, so what direction that they will give into their building?

sorry for my English, but what do think? I dont know how about other universities in Japan or in your university. Is critical thinking not a selling point anymore?

Mar 19, 17 11:39 am

Perhaps the western and eastern approach to architecture today are quite different. "Critical thinking" is therefore relative, depending on which approach.

Intellectual, theoretical analysis in architecture, urbanism, and beyond are more western in method. In such way, the study of architecture - hierarchy, order, urban context, etc. - can be seen as modern and more integrative with social studies.

However, my observation is that eastern culture, architecture, and philosophy strive for simplicity and sensitivity. Intuition takes priority over diagrams, rationalization, and process. What appears beautiful is enough.

This difference is not black and white. Of course, there are overlaps and exceptions. And regardless of which approach, architecture can be amazing.

Mar 19, 17 12:15 pm  · 
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I wonder which university did you attend? Could you let us know?

Mar 19, 17 10:48 pm  · 

Thank you for all comments. I cant say what university, but a famous one.  If I have a chance, I want to say everyone, exchange here 6 months is ok, but do not graduate here.

I still hope that in the past the way that Japanese design building is differnt from now. I used to join many workshops with other universities, it makes me feel not different, my university or others. I also ask non-Japanese students from other universities,  They feel the same....

In Japan, The bachelor course is four years , some universities start to study architecture when the 3rd year. When they are 1st - 2nd year student, they study general course like economic..., not architecture . Im very surprises that some of them still got the one of the high-rank school of arch in the world.

I cant imagine what they can do after graduated. When we work together There are a lot of students from America, Taiwan or China, but Japanese cannot exchange any idea much (they always JOB HUNTING since 1st year in master and company will choose them within a year) Foreign students must be a leader and work alone alltime, although our site is in Japan. Nobody can find area requirement, nobody can draw circulation diagram. They relay focus on form. finally when they do master research thesis some of them do it only 20 pages with a big font.

Im afraid that many advisers here dont know the meaning of "research" If you read JA71 Research Methodologies. The projects are very interest me, but the meaning of research is not clear. Not all project that show process.

 I think the most important thing that makes Japanese can build outstanding architecture is talent engineer. If we talk about philosophy or logic thinking, I think it's FAKE. 

Now, I and my friends feel very regret to study here. Some of us cried and said our government should not pay for us to study here. Adviser does not have so much time to talk with students.They seldom come, over 10 students per one adviser. 

I and my friends never research before, because we study design when bachelor.

When I have any problems, we email to our previous adviser in our country, not Japanese adviser. I feel like I graduated from our country more than here.

Meanwhile, my friends, they feel like, they was help by many books about research methodology more than Japanese adviser.

Nobody can check our research is reliable or not.

Here, research mean only finding answers.  We dont know, when we apply to a new company, how we can reply  if they ask us what did you learn from Japan. Because we learn how to research from many books and from the adviser in our country.

How could we say that we know how to research if our adviser doesn't understand the meaning of theory, theory framework, conceptual framework? If you have any comment...

Mar 20, 17 2:06 am  · 

I have to disagree. I studied Architecture at Meiji University.

Jul 27, 22 2:41 pm  · 

I have to disagree. I studied Architecture at Meiji University.

Jul 27, 22 2:41 pm  · 

I also studies architecture in the Philippines.
The process is there.. the logic, the beauty,

Jul 27, 22 2:42 pm  · 

*I also studied in the Philippines. From my own experience, in Japan the process is there.. the logic, the beauty, only with a lot more freedom of expression. The logic would seem to be more natural. Maybe that’s why it could seem to lacking in your perspective?

Jul 27, 22 2:45 pm  · 

Also, our professors were kind and credible. A lot were very passionate. Nothing like you described.

Jul 27, 22 2:47 pm  · 

In the end you have good design or bad design, and a million different ways to qualify anything as either.

Architecture is a professional design field. Qualitative research is only one part of design, and a pretty soft part at that (apart from researching codes and other types of requirements).

Based just on these posts, I would say that it is unfortunate, but you shouldn’t dismiss something just because it didn’t align with the expectation you had of it going in. You have to be open minded to learn new things.  

Mar 20, 17 3:16 am  · 

"...nobody can draw circulation diagram. They relay focus on form."

So does the AA and Bartlett, doesn't stop them from being the foremost in the field?

Hard to take this guy seriously w/o any context.

Mar 20, 17 3:20 am  · 
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now that you know how to design a beautiful building, "make it more humane and social" (in the words of Cedric Price).

to be honest, I don't see a problem here, beauty is an important dimension to architecture.

I recommend you take a look at the lecture by Iñaki Abalos at the GSD "Architecture for the search for knowledge"

Mar 20, 17 9:56 am  · 

Was your degree a MS or MArch/MEng? Research in each case has a different meaning and objective, thus it is hard to judge based on what you are telling us. I have a friend who did his Masters at YNU and another one at Todai, and they had a great time there, and learned a lot in terms of design methodology, which is very different from what we learn in South America. Maybe your prejudices stopped you from learning from a different perspective? idk.

Mar 20, 17 9:57 am  · 
good details

Critical thinking isn't really taught in Japan and that's what caused most of your frustration I imagine.  I'd never want to put myself or kids through the education system here, that's for sure.

Mar 20, 17 11:39 pm  · 

Sorry for your experience.  I think many well known Japanese architects get part of their education in the west and go back and apply it in their country.  If you're Ando, then you're self educated on western architecture also. xD

Mar 22, 17 9:51 am  · 

Hi Vendetta,

I have sent you a message via Contact option here.

Been waiting for your reply.



Jun 25, 17 2:11 am  · 

Just follow your heart, then you can make the better choice.

Jun 27, 17 7:06 am  · 

I also sent you a message via Contact.

Looking forward to hear back from you.

Mar 22, 18 4:13 pm  · 

Well, if you are interested in the particular architectural output of a culture and you then find the means to that architectural end doesn't match up with your understanding of how architecture should be produced... do you then decide to not like that architecture?

Process is only helpful in that it can give you a 'way in' to designing. If you can bypass process, and produce interesting work... why not?

Mar 22, 18 8:33 pm  · 

Thank you for all comments and some private questions via CONTACT .

I received  email  "messages-noreply" by archinect and dont know how to answer?

How to reply? where is INBOX MESSAGE?

Mar 23, 18 4:40 am  · 

Japan is a weird place. It is not for everyone.

It depends on your professors quite a lot, more than on the school system, which is pretty loose. Intuition is definitely given free reign in most labs and offices. Critical thinking exists but is harder to access. Its not as obvious as the Western model.

More difficult is that the system is set up for you to get into a company somewhere and you will learn most of what you need there. That is all oriented to the Japanese students though. If you want more than that then it is up to you, unless your professor is devoted to her/his students. Such teachers are pretty rare for Japan, but they do exist. It is a side effect of everyone having a practice to run and a lot of pressure on their time. I was told that the professor's job was to create the atmosphere and not to guide students overtly. Not sure about this as an idea, but it comes pretty close to describing a lot of labs here.

I did my PhD at U of Tokyo. At the time I didnt understand the system and wondered how in the world people like Sejima and Fujimoto could exist in that context. Now I understand it better. It is a lot harder to stand out in Japan because nobody will give you a hand unless you ask for it, and even then it depends on how you do it. Its like the American dream of independent actors, working with total freedom, minimal aid. If you make it it is not because you did it all alone exactly, but it definitely requires a willingness to take responsibility for your education and for finding goals to strive for on your own. In a way you need to be Ando.

For myself doing PhD I quite enjoyed the time. But I was already in my 30's and had worked in offices for more than 5 years by that time, so I was pretty clear about what I was doing. If I had done Masters degree here I would have been lost.

That said, I have seen some amazing architects, foreign students and Japanese, come from the system. Half of them were just amazing on their own. The other half had very good teachers, or were on the same wavelength as their professors. I will say however that almost all of them have left Japan because of similar limitations built into the culture as a whole. It is hard to stay here long term unless you find a "third way" for yourself.

Mar 23, 18 9:37 am  · 
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I did my masters at in Tokyo. My professor was pretty westernized and had worked previous at AA, so I think he was maybe more hand-on than other labs.

We did a lot of research and exploration... the interesting thing was that there was an emphasis on doing research that was new and would attract endorsements or attention in the field. Not just research for personal exploration or gratification.

I think it's easy to get by in the Japan university system and professors will give you a passing grade without really thinking about it, so you kind of have to take things into your own hands... I realized that I could just name drop my university and get companies to send samples, visits, even have representatives come talk to us. I would get free passes to trade shows or fairs by using my student/researcher status.

Each lab (studio) operates independently with their own sponsors and own equipment, and if you want to use the resources of another professor, you just have to go hunt them down and ask. In this context and generally as well, take it as a privilege that you exist outside of their very structured social system.

I particularly like how they sometimes don't take their profession too seriously. Working with cutting edge researchers in the field, they'll do mockup with Pokemon or bunnies because, hey it's cute. And that's valid too.

Mar 12, 21 6:57 pm  · 
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It's interesting that you came to Japan because you liked their architecture but are now frustrated by the process that leads them to this outcome. 

No judgment, truly a curious idea. Japanese architecture looks to be overtly gesture, or idea driven. Then, then "logic" is brought in to the project as the concept is rationalized for construction. Thinking of Junya Ishigami's work for example.

Maybe give in to this process wholeheartedly? Imaging some lovely environments, forms, and ways of living and try to realize it uncompromisingly.

Jul 29, 22 4:14 am  · 

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