Form and Function

There’s a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Manchester, NH, know as the Zimmerman House, that has been turned into a museum. I’ve visited it a number of times and wondered where all of his ideas on the use of space came from. After walking through a temple in Kyoto, Japan, I think I’ve found the answers.
As an American I’ve always had a distant understanding of the Asian world and culture. The Chinese and Japanese have always fallen into a similar group. The difference between these two cultures has always been a mystery.
My first impression of the difference between the Chinese people and the Japanese is basically a feeling that the Chinese are similar to a nation of worker ants, whereas the Japanese feel more like a colony of bees. Now, I mean nothing derogatory by saying this. It’s a very simple analogy, but it sums up my feelings initially. The Japanese feel more refined and reserved. Their homes, their cars, their humbleness…
It is a beautiful country, and I have a lot to learn about it and its people.

Posted August 17th, 2007 in Uncategorized.


  1. Robbyn:

    Japan is utterly amazing. I so wish I were with all of you on this leg of the trip.

  2. Anonymous:

    Actually – not much difference between ants and bees – both colonies are “superorganisms” of corrdinated behaviors and skills. Both “cultures” are essential for life on earth. Ants have their workers, bees have their drones….ants are the older organism though. They invented socialization – and they’ll be the ones better adapted to survive any environmental apocalpse that may occur.

    Re: Frank Lloyd Wright – you’re absolutely right – he was both greatly influenced by, and admired, in Japan. I believe there are several Wright designed buildings in Japan…….

    Check your email for an Errol Morris article I sent on photographs and perception of reality – cheers.


  3. Annah:

    I wish we Americans blended with our landscape like this picture shows of Japan. I mean, maybe in a way we do–bright sports jackets and large sneakers and plastic knick-knacks look like they belong in front of McDonald’s and KFC. I suppose in the countryside, the worker and the land can blend. There is something in this picture that makes me feel harmonious, something I don’t feel often in my own surroundings.

  4. Anonymous:

    Annah – Let me pass on a link to a blog published by the NY Times by great film maker Errol Morris that I also sent to jim:

    As Morris notes, however real photographs may look, they are not reality.

    ’tis a beautiful image though.

    Two other importnat articles on goings on in China: The Road To Beijing (ongoing development)

    and China cracks down on media coverage of the recent bridge collapse:


  5. PSA:

    It is interesting how two people see the same picture in differnt ways: “There is something in this picture that makes me feel harmonious”. To me it is very ominous as I cannot see the face and I have watched way to many kung fu flicks not to mention I was a big fan of Mortal Kombat in college. Can you say, “Raiden…Finish Him?”

  6. PSA:

    PS Jim…Awesome and insightful comments on your trip through China and Japan…Thank you!

  7. POPs:

    This picture is very relaxing to me. I guess the only side of the Asian culture that I have let myself see is the peaceful side.Be it the art of Bonsia, there exercise, there gardening, meditation all seam to bring a feeling of peace and relaxation to to ones soul.
    We should all practice a little of this culture and bring more peace to our minds.
    Thanks for the great Picture

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