Image of Ōya Ishi - Oya Stone Photobook

Ōya Ishi - Oya Stone Photobook


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The photographer Veronika Spierenburg spent three months travelling in Japan, capturing the richness of the architecture and exploring what makes it so. Texture, artefacts, detailing, mood, culture, craft, the often overshadowed or overlooked…

“The longer I was on the road, the more the qualities and materials of this country burned into my photography...What seems aesthetically pleasing to the Western eye has a functional significance for the Japanese.”

In this photo journal, Spierenburg presents some of Japan’s few remaining unspoiled spots in her idiosyncratic style, documenting both modern and folk architecture and the buildings of Kenzo Tange, Togo Murano, Tadao Ando, Kazuo Shinohara and Kisho Kurokawa.

The title refers to the stone ‘Ōya-Ishi’- heavily featured in the book- which comes from Ōya, a small town carved into the rockface, in the Tochigi region of Japan. This coveted material has been a favourite of architects for decades: Kengo Kuma incorporated Ōya Ishi into the Tokyo 2020 stadium. The Shimono Kokubunji Temple and Utsunomiya Castle both feature the stone. The Modernist architect Frank Lloyd Wright also took an immediate liking to Ōya Ishi and used it extensively for Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel and again later in his Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan School.

Spierenburg finds pleasure in photographing this stone all over Japan- a rich texture of pockmarked grey with tufts of miso volcanic ash and radiant green minerals, telling the culture of a nation.

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