East & West

I think Japanese people are very much obsessed with questioning themselves, because our entire culture was questioned when western modernity forced its way into our society about one hundred and fifty years ago. It’s a difficult mindset, because it oscillates between two poles—east and west. The clash of “Sakoku”—the hermetic Japanese tradition that lasted form the 17th until the 19th century—and western modernity in the middle of the 19th century still echoes in our minds and culture, making us open for experiments and extremes, but also unstable. Kiyonori Muroga

Of Eastern and Western culture, neither is ever superior to the other. They are two streams of thinking. Sugiura keeps asking himself: how would the logical architecture school of thought function in the Eastern mindset? So he started researching Taoism and even went to India for his studies. He realized that the relationship between “inhale” and “exhale” in vital breathing is actually similar in concept to how cultures and methodologies relate to each other. Neither Eastern nor Western culture represents absolute truth. They correlate to each other. The most important thing is that before learning a different culture we should have a thorough understanding of our own culture...  Prof. Jingren Lu

[...] Germans tend to strictly obey rules, the Swiss are relatively flexible, and the Dutch are freestyle. People from the East might not see these differences, because we are lacking in sharp, radical, and logical analysis compared to the West. We focus on sensuality, on feeling and looking at things with an empirical approach. These are some of the merits of our culture because the senses apply widely and are flexible in nature, but the downside is a lack of science and accuracy. East Asian culture – Chinese, Japanese and Korean – relates to Taoism. Of these cultures, Chinese culture is rather approximate and comforting, whereas Japanese culture embraces Zen and Wabi-sabi. We can illustrate these differences with example of movable letterpress and woodblock printing. Although movable type was invented in China, Johannes Gutenberg introduced sophisticated rules on typography. By contrast, the Chinese also pay attention to grids and forms, but we do printing and engraving in an intuitive way. The East pursues logic in contingency, whilst the West pursues a soft touch within logic. Both have their own strength and beauty.  Prof. Jingren Lu

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