On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Japan Society’s landmark building, we present When Practice Becomes Form: Carpentry Tools from Japan, a new exhibition celebrating the spirit of architecture and craftsmanship through Japanese woodworking tools, patterns and models. Featuring a diverse array of hand tools—planes, axes, saws—and joinery techniques that have been used to build Japan’s wooden architectural masterpieces for hundreds of years—from temples and shrines to teahouses and bridges—the exhibition unpacks how the intangible qualities of making, such as the consummate experience, knowledge and the honed skills of master carpenters, have been transformed into significant built forms.
Master carpenters' (tōryo) extensive knowledge of the local environment and of wood as a material is integral to their craft. Using natural resources, and practices and tools handed down over generations, they construct buildings using a refined methodology. This site-specific installation, conceived by contemporary architect Sou Fujimoto in collaboration with Brooklyn-based Popular Architecture, explores the coexistence of nature and design, highlighting an enduring connection between traditional Japanese wooden construction and modern architecture.