HISTORICAL & SOCIETAL ASPECTS
 
"As life styles change, so does architecture. In few other ways can we see so directly and concretely the changes in the social and cultural life of the Muromachi elite as in the development of shoin-style architecture and the invention of the new form of domestic structure known as the kaisho." -Ito Teiji
 

The Muromachi Period (1333-1567) was a time when the military aristocracy tried to emulate the courtier lifestyles which preceded them, at least in the sense of aesthetic value.  The deterioration of the old court nobility led to freer, more casual relations between the upper and lower classes of society and between the members of the military elite.  The advent of new cultural pursuits such as the tea ceremony, renga creating gatherings, and the desire to display Chinese art and artifacts resulted in new forms of architecture to adjust with these changing patterns in lifestyles.  Shoin architecture is often defined by contrasting it with the palace-style architecture of the Heian and Kamakura periods making evident its evolutionary alliance to earlier modes of building.  Elements retained from the older palace style, despite lack of functional utility, in Muromachi residential architecture reveal the efforts of the military aristocracy to imitate the lifestyle of the court nobility. Originally, shoin referred to a single room used for study and daily living. Since the ruling class had changed, we find its effects evident in the evolution of architectural styles. However, through this evolution the residential function was retained, and two more functions that go hand-in-hand evolved. Display and Entertainment played a key role in the daily life a the samurai class. Shoin Architecture began with the increase of the samurai class and was developed through aesthetics and beauty.  It was an age when the display of Chinese "objets d’art" was popular, consequently, spaces were created solely for the exhibition of precious art objects or acquired collections.
 
 

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