Be a part of a creative and interactive community of talents! Build your connections, find resources, and extend your brand! Explore your opportunities!

A Japanese Way Of Thinking About Space

Jan 25, 2018

Visitors walk around the ground to view autumn colors they are seen through a circle window of Meigetsuin Temple in Kamakura, near Tokyo, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

When you are the first person to arrive in a meeting room, do you think of it as being empty or full?

If you were raised in the West, a meeting room is made for people to meet. Therefore, if there are no people in that room, then of course it must be empty. As philosopher Henk Oosterling remarks, in the West, “a room is empty until someone enters.”

However, in the East, space is understood a bit differently. In Japan, spaces have meanings prior to any activity that happens within them. For example, as a space in Japanese culture is understood by how it shapes relationships, the same meeting room in Tokyo would appear full of symbols and instructions about how interactions can and should occur. In this way, a room is always filled with invisible structures, regardless of its occupants.

Instead of framing space as a relationship between objects and walls, the Japanese concept of space is about the relationships among people. By shifting this view, we can discover an interesting way of thinking about the spaces we make and use in everyday life—and the relationships that they create.

Read More: