Thursday, March 16, 2017

Korea Style by Marcia Iwatate

Korea StyleKorea Style by Marcia Iwatate

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book was very interesting. I liked the narration that explained the architectural and decoration goals of the owners and their collaboration with the architects. Also how it pointed details in each photo of the placement of the furniture, statures, or the history of specific ornaments.

Coffee tables or other utilitarian pieces of furniture such as lamps and end tables often were originally other things like a fisherman's cutting board etc.

Nothing in the rooms are left to chance. Each thing has its purpose and space.

The rooms are bare and ascetic as if they were meant to be used as mediation spaces based on Buddhist philosophy. Nothing to distract the emptying of the mind.

Rice paper is placed on windows to create a soft glow of filtered light. But many modern windows were clear in order to better enjoy the outer courtyards with their foliage and waters. This seems to be a common tradition of Korean houses: an inner courtyard. I would like to know more of the history and purpose of this tradition.

A lot the things are organic: wooden tables, stones as decoration. But interestingly the outsides were very modern, the walls made of steel and concrete, although there were a few traditional Hanok houses included.

Having said that, as much as I admired the simplicity and beauty I know could not live in such bare dwelling places. I would find the emptiness oppressive, not peaceful. I need more warmth, more detail, more visual stimulation, more books. I like my house because the walls are wrapped in books.




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19 comments:

  1. rather startling change of venue, there... but very interesting: emptiness of mind is probably something one has to grow up with, i would guess; meditation can help people, i know, but it's definitely not a force in western culture... still, i've found it attractive to the point that i studied zen pretty intensively for a couple of years and got an award for one of my haiku from a Japanese zen monastery... i just got to the point where i felt i understood what it was about, but was not moved to go farther... very eclectic posts, the last few... interesting...

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    1. Hi Mudpuddle. I've often thought I would get a lot more comments if I found a niche lit genre and just stayed with it or if I took all those Classic reading challenges that so many others take.

      But I have to read as my wimsey takes me and it takes me everywhere. Currently I'm reading a book on Art Deco, a bio of Teddy Roosevelt, the annotated Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder and last but not least Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

      So I guess my reviews will always be a little schizophren-ahem I mean eclectic.

      That's interesting that you wrote Haiku. I love reading that form of poetry. I have reviewed a couple of those books as well. Impressive that you won an award, especially since I assume you're not Asian and don't have that as your cultural background. (Or should I not assume that?)

      I don't think I could write it though. It seems so hard.

      Did you visit a monastery in Japan? That sounds like an interesting story as to why you studied Buddhism but only to a point-but I don't want to pry.

      I've only studied Buddhism as a cultural interest. I do love to read Asian literature and poetry. I have some really excellent books on Japanese and Chinese History. One of my closest friends is Japanese.

      Thanks for your interesting comments.

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  2. my reading changes a lot, also: barnaby rudge, ned myers(cooper), the haunted bookshop, the case of the cautious coquette, which doctor, and the bride of newgate in the last week or so...

    haiku is an integral part of zen and that's the way i studied it, by reading many books(rh blyth to begin with) and thinking and writing... i've never been to Japan; someday, maybe...

    after i got my degree in geology, i still had questions; haiku and zen helped me to a satisfactory understanding of this life and to a perspective from which to appreciate it... tx for your interest... and also for the most interesting exchanges re music and other subjects...

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    1. Thanks Mudpuddle (said with a jesting sarcastic tone) now I am looking up all those books you mentioned and putting them on my wish list. :)

      Thanks for answering my question on Zen Buddhism. One of my sisters lived in Thailand for a year. There was a Monastery there with tigers. She showed me photos of herself and my mother (who at 74 and legally blind traveled there alone to visit her) hugging the tigers. My mother makes me look like a woos.

      So you are a musician and also a geologist. Now I get to ask you what everyone asks me with my music degree (ha,ha): what did you do with your geology degree? It sounds interesting.

      I also appreciate the exchanges. There are very few people I can speak to about music or other subjects I care about. Take care!

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    2. mainly, i was a well sight geologist, otherwise known as a mud-logger; i worked in a trailer hooked up to the drilling rig and recorded and analyzed mineral types, soil layers, etc. as well as physical rig data: speed, mud components, additives, and the like... it was exciting, dangerous, and nerve-wracking, similtaneously... later i worked for the gas company for a long time...

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    3. Mudpuddle: I find that very interesting. Are you a writer? That would make an interesting story. Thanks for sharing that.

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    4. you're most welcome; and no, the only writing(besides the haiku)i do is commenting...

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    5. Well, Haiku would make a nice book...

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  3. Hi Sharon,

    I do not know a lot about design or architecture but this sounds interesting.

    Sometimes houses seem so cluttered so a bare and spare look is appealing. I also love books so I would miss those :)


    Have a great weekend!

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    1. HI Brian. There definitely needs to be a balance. I don't like clutter or crowding but I don't like Spartan either. Just the right mix of order and warmth. I'm sure that balance is different for everyone. Have a wonderful weekend. Do something fun! That's an order! :)

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  4. I can relate to your last paragraph. Wall to wall books, comfortable nooks to sit in, musical instruments etc. I don't like mess but I'm not a fan of the clinical sparse look. You do have eclectic reading habits - nice!

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    1. Thanks, Carol. I was telling Brian above that I think everyone has their own sense of the right combination of order and warmth. Some people prefer a more Spartan environment, some people like a room filled with stuff. I have my own sense of balance, neatness and order but lots of books. How's Dorothy Sayers coming along? I cheated on my book buying fast and bought the Play. It's proving interesting. I'm reading that and my husband and I are reading the Elizabethan prayer book as a devotional.

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    2. Carol: A question: Have you read Nagaio Marsh and what is your opinion of her?

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    3. without meaning to intrude, here... i've read almost all of Marsh and liked most of them; she was heavily into drama and the theatre, and a lot of her novels have that venue; but some take the reader into rural NZ, which is interesting... on a scale of mystery excellence, i'd put her between 7 &8...

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    4. Hi Mudpuddle, totally not intruding. I asked because I was looking on ebay for some more Josephine Tey and somebody was selling a group of books that included both Tey and Marsh and I was wondering if Marsh was any good. I asked Carol because she's from Australia.

      I have friends coming over for dinner tonight and they are from New Zealand so I will ask them as well.

      Thanks for the input. If you like her then I must find some Marsh books.

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    5. I've only listened to a couple on audio & they had a theatre context, as Mudpuddle says. I liked them but I think I would prefer reading her books. They're not that easy to find here. I haven't bought Sayer's Man Born to be King - I saw the Circe Institute sells it but postage is too expensive to get it sent here.

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    6. Hi Carol. My Kiwi friends know of Marsh (and informed me I was mispronouncing the name) but haven't read her ("isn't she one of those OLD authors from the forties...")

      Funny that she's not easy to get in Australia. You're only a hop and a skip from NZ. (Is that a stupid thing to say?) Luckily our library has a bunch. Somebody who works at our library must like her.

      I am so enjoying Sayers plays. Too bad about the postage. Is it true for ebay as well? That's where I ordered it.

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  5. I agree about needing my home to be a little more cozy as well as filled with books. I am trying to declutter though and just finished listening to "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up." My son (who happens to have the same name as your son..) is a musicologist. Sounds like you may know all about that field! :)

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    1. Hi Marcia! I did not get a degree is musicology but in as far as it is about studying music, I certainly love the field. Does your son teach at college?

      I love the name Derek. It is a German derivative of "Theoderic" which means "God rules the people".

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I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.