The Ise Shrine, situated some 270 miles west of Tokyo, is both old and new. The shrine dates from at least A.D. 685, but every twenty years it is completely rebuilt. Each rebuilding—there have been 59 so far—is scrupulously undertaken to guarantee an exact and identical reproduction of the proceeding shrine. In 1953, after the most recent renewal but prior to the transfer of religious objects, not only were the authors allowed to inspect the prohibited area—it is ringed by four fences and contains the most important buildings—but they were granted unprecedented permission to photograph it.
This book represents the first opportunity for most Westerners to view and study one of the architectural wonders of the world.. ISE: Prototype of Japanese Architecture begins with a preface by John Burchard and a foreword by the internationally recognized architect, Kenzo Tange. Tange also has written one of the two main essays in the book; the other is by Noboru Kawazoe, in which Ise is examined primarily in term a of Japanese mythology and history. Tange discusses Ise in an architectural perspective; he writes “In the subsequent history of Japanese architecture, extending over more than a thousand years, it has proved impossible to advance beyond the form of Ise.... Along with the Parthenon Ise represents the peak in the history of world architecture.”
ISE: Prototype of Japanese Architecture belongs in every fine arts collection and in every architectural library. The photographs, reproduced with exquisite care, make this book an invaluable architectural study, a work of genuine scholarship, and a visual delight. Western audience, invites the attention of all those interested in Japanese culture. Scholars of comparative religion and cultural anthropology will also find the book of value.