As a prayer for recovery from illness, the Japanese emperor Yōmei once vowed to erect a temple in honor of the Buddha. Although Yōmei did not live to see it built, the Hōryū Temple survives to this day, one of the oldest wooden structures in the world, sustaining more than 1,300 years of continuous worship, supported by 7th century Japanese craftsmanship.
The cultural significance of Hōryū-ji is widely recognized. The larger complex of Buddhist monuments to which it belongs has been inscribed as a World Heritage site, and is a prime destination for tourism. However appreciation of Hōryū-ji does not require travel to the Nara Prefecture of Japan. An arresting take on the extraordinary architecture of Hōryū and other traditional Japanese buildings is currently on view at the Japan Society in New York, where it’s optimally positioned to address a prayer for recovery that makes Yōmei’s vow seem modest: the Biden Administration’s $2 trillion bill to rebuild American infrastructure.
Wide-blade rip saw (maebiki-oga), angle type Courtesy of Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum
Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum
The timeliness of the Japan Society exhibit may not be immediately apparent…