"The Japanese Nationality Room: Showcasing Japan's Cultural Past to Facilitate American Interest," by Mariah Simensky

 

"The Japanese Nationality Room: Showcasing Japan's Cultural Past to Facilitate American Interest," by Mariah Simensky

The Cathedral of Learning’s Japanese Nationality room highlights 18th century minka style architecture and includes a variety of cultural elements illuminating Japanese traditions of all social classes. The room, dedicated on July 25, 1999, differs in purpose compared to the other nationality rooms. Where the other rooms attempted to carve out an identity of the immigrant communities' new cultural background, a mixture between that of their homeland and the culture adopted from the United States, the Japanese Nationality Room, sought to facilitate interest in Japan and educate the people of Pittsburgh of its cultural heritage. I will be arguing that the Japanese Nationality room committee created a room acting as a tool to initiate public and international interest towards Japan and its traditions through the design of the room, one that highlights high court and working class Japanese culture, the insertion of objects, both ritual, classical, and mundane, representative of Japan as a whole, and through the archival records that demonstrate the diverse ideas of the committee members.

My research will focus on the evolution of the design of the room from the proposed plan of two Japanese gardens in the cathedral’s inner courtyards of 1971, to the transformation of the room’s design moving from katura teahouse, to Noh theater stage, to the decided upon minka style farmhouse, and the reasoning behind the design’s transition from one to the other. I will also be investigating how the committee came up with ways to justify or assert certain cultural elements as representatives of Japanese culture over others. Furthermore, I will research how those cultural elements interact and blend together to form a seamless mixture of cultural aspects from the different social classes that shaped Japan’s history in order to prove the room as being an intended tool used to perk the interest of Japanese culture as a whole within the local community and the greater United States.

For more information about Mariah, click here.

Categories: 
  • HAAARCH!!! 2015
  • Undergraduate Work