This chapter discusses architecture during Japan’s Edo period (1603–1867). Japan was already one of the world’s most technologically advanced and urban societies during the period. Urbanization, however, was not accompanied by the creation of monumental architecture, with most Japanese continuing to favor modestly scaled buildings made almost entirely out of wood. The characteristic vernacular Japanese farmhouse, minka, featured thatched roofs; often several stories are set into their high gables. The roofs spread well beyond the house walls, protecting them from rain and snow. By the early seventeenth-century political and social changes led to the advent of new architectural forms that embodied the delicate relationship between the shogun and the emperor, as well as the relative ineffectualness of the imperial family.
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