People say that the Japanese are some of the most respectful people on earth. And you better believe us when we say that it is not a stereotype! In fact, some of the adjectives that Westerners use to characterize the people include words like polite, humble, hard-working, punctual, kind, intelligent, honorable, and more.
But, what is the main force that drives these admirable characteristics? The easy answer would be “the Japanese culture,” but if we dig deeper, we will see that even the country’s architecture has a bearing on the people’s attitude and beliefs as well.
About Toji Temple Pagoda – a Homage to Respect and Resilience
Take, for example, the five-story Pagoda that stands tall in Toji Temple. This UNESCO World Heritage site in Kyoto has immense historical and cultural significance that symbolically reflects on the people’s respectful attitude. The five-story pagoda stands in the east corner of the ground and was the tallest building in Kyoto for many centuries.
This structure avoids falling apart due to swinging thanks to its masterfully crafted pegs and wedges that keep its columns standing upright. At 55 m (180 ft), this tall old building serves as a testament to the country’s never-say-die attitude.
The Role of Nature in Preserving the Pagoda
However, it is not only engineering that gets credit for Pagoda’s construction. Ask any person in Kyoto, and they will undoubtedly say that the five-story Pagoda still stands due to its connection with nature. You see, nature has played a formidable role in shaping Japanese culture and still occupies a prime role in the people’s lives.
Because Japan is a country that is frequently shaken by earthquakes and swept by typhoons, people have developed means to control elements of nature for their self-interest. “Respect; not fear” is what the Japanese believe in when it comes to dealing with the destructive natural forces.
Controlled nature is considered the safest way to bond with nature and enjoy her gifts, which is why seasonal flowers (such as cherry blossom), landscaped gardens, Ikebana, bonsai, etc. are so appreciated. Even though the pagoda has burned down four times in its history, it was rebuilt every time – last being in 1644.
The structure, in its current form, not only symbolizes harmony with nature but the resilience of Japanese spirit. Just like the structure was rebuilt every time it burned down in the past, the people of Japan have also recovered from all the natural calamities that befell upon them.
They have managed to preserve this centuries-old architectural wonder through hard work, humility, and respect for the natural cycle of creation and destruction. Visit the five-story pagoda in Kyoto to understand the true meaning of respect and its role in all creations in Japan.
Why pagodas don’t fall down | The Economist
Japan’s Unique View of Nature | Tokyo Business Today
Toji Temple and Kobo-ichi Market | Kyoto Station.com
The top 10 words to describe Japanese people (according to foreigners) | Japan Today