Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  53 minutes
Date:  2006
Genre:  Expository
Language:  Japanese; Finnish / English subtitles
Grade level: 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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A compelling illustration of how the aesthetics of Japanese architecture and design are expressed through simple means, and also shows that the best Japanese architecture, wherever it appears, expresses spiritual qualities that enrich human life.


Kochuu is included on the same DVD as Great Expectations KOCHUU is a visually stunning film about modern Japanese architecture, its roots in the Japanese tradition, and its impact on the Nordic building tradition. Winding its way through visions of the future and traditional concepts, nature and concrete, gardens and high-tech spaces, the film explains how contemporary Japanese architects strive to unite the ways of modern man with the old philosophies in astounding constructions.

KOCHUU, which translates as 'in the jar,' refers to the Japanese tradition of constructing small, enclosed physical spaces, which create the impression of a separate universe. The film illustrates key components of traditional Japanese architecture, such as reducing the distinction between outdoors and indoors, disrupting the symmetrical, building with wooden posts and beams rather than with walls, modular construction techniques, and its symbiotic relationship with water, light and nature.

The film illustrates these concepts through remarkable views of the Imperial Katsura Palace, the Todai-Ji Temple, the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum, the Sony Tower, numerous teahouses and gardens (see link below for complete list), as well as examples of the cross-fertilization evidenced in buildings throughout Scandinavia, and shows how 'invisible' Japanese traditions are evident even in modern, high-tech buildings.

KOCHUU also features interviews with some of Japan's leading architects as well as Scandinavian contemporaries including Pritzker Prize winners Tadao Ando and Sverre Fehn, Toyo Ito, Kazuo Shinohara, Kristian Gullichsen and Juhani Pallasmaa (see link below for complete list and bios).

KOCHUU is a compelling illustration of how the aesthetics of Japanese architecture and design are expressed through simple means, and also shows that the best Japanese architecture, wherever it appears, expresses spiritual qualities that enrich human life.

'A film about architecture could leave a forebrain stifled. That KOCHUU does nothing of the kind speaks to the iridescence of its light, shapes and colors, as well as its profusion and juxtaposition of ideas.'-Northwest Asian Weekly

'A gentle, beautiful film that lingers over images of gardens and details of buildings.'-The Age

'Unhurried and often beautiful...draws the watcher in. Mesmerising!'-The Australian

'A small film with big thoughts...a dynamic dialogue in design spanning the past, present, and future...Wachtmeister's film footage of architects describing their design ideas within their realized buildings is a veritable historical document.' Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians


** 2006 Association for Asian Studies Film Festival
** Architects Prize, 2004 International Film Festival of Docs on Architecture
** 2004 Festival International du Film sur l'Art
** 2005 Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia Conference
** National Gallery, Washington D.C. (2005)


Main credits

Wachtmeister, Jesper (Director)
Wachtmeister, Jesper (Producer)
Ando, Tadao (cmm)
Fehn, Sverre (cmm)
Ito, Toyoo (cmm)
Gullichsen, Kristian (cmm)

Other credits

Camera, Askild Vik Edvadsen; music, Benny Nilsen.

Distributor credits

A Film by Jesper Wachtmeister

Docuseek2 subjects

History of Architecture
Asian Studies

Distributor subjects

East Asia
Science and Technology
US and Canadian Broadcast Rights
Urban Studies


film ; video; documentary; dvd; architecture; japan; scandinavian; scandinavia; Pritzker Prize Winner; Pritzker; Tadao Ando; Sverre Fehn; Kristian Gullichsen; Kisho Kurokawa; Toyo Ito; Juhani Pallasmaa; Kazuo Shinohara; Modern Art Museum Fort Worth; Giorgio Armani; Norwegian; Glacier-museum in Norway.; Alvar Aalto; Finnish Embassy; Sendai Mediatheque.; Central Station in Helsinki; Modernist; Modern; modernism; scale and form; Fushin-an Teahouse and Garden; O Residence (teahouse) - Kisho Kurokawa; ; Villa Mairea - Alvar Aalto; Finland; Zui Ki Tei - Ethnographical Museum; Todai-ji Temple; Water Temple - Tadao Ando; ; Ronneby Japanese Garden - Sven-Ingvar Andersson; Sweden; Tofuku-ji Temple (Gardens); Virtual Garden - JFP INC.; Garden Joju-en; Seagaia Ocean Dome (indoor beach); Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum Tadao Ando; Huutoniemi Church - Aarno Ruusuvuori; Tapiola Church - Aarno Ruusuvuori; Finland; Church of light - Tadao Ando; Chapel of the Holy Cross - Gunnar Asplund; Sweden; Woodland Chapel - Gunnar Asplund; ; Villa Schreiner - Sverre Fehn; Norway; Tofuku-ji Temple (Gardens); Mjelgaron III - Hakon Mjelva Norway; Hiunkaku Pavilion; House on Planetveien - Arne Korsmo; Norway; Yodoko Guest-House - Frank Lloyd Wright; Japan; Capsule House K - Kisho Kurokawa; Japan; Sony Tower - Kisho Kurokawa; Nakagin Capsule Tower - Kisho Kurokawa; Shizouka Press and Broadcasting Centre - Kenzo Tange; Moduli 225 - Kristian Gu;

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