From Abbreviation to Abstraction

As was noted earlier, Higashisanjo Palace was based on a bilaterally symmetrical formula but acquired an asym­metrical layout to conform to its two-cho site. Small and medium-sized residences, with their greatly restricted sites, were one generation further removed, built with shinden-zukuri as their prototype. These were a simplified
form of the original, which emphasized the most impor­tant features and abbreviated others. The south side of the main hall, having lost most of its official ceremonial func­tions, was restructured primarily as a venue for the com­position of linked verse and other leisure-time pursuits of the powerless nobility.

During the medieval period, in order to adapt to fur­ther reductions in site size, the main hall was reduced in scale and the symmetrical pairs of tainoya annexes, tsuri- dono fishing pavilions, chUmon inner gates, and sukiro open corridors were all omitted on one side. Asymmetrical in ground plan, a smaller shinden and a single tainoya con­nected by a reduced-scale sukiro with chiimon became the new standard. This is the compositional form typically seen today in Zen sub-temples, except that the shinden is now replaced by a kyakuden (guest hall) or hojo (abbot’s quarters).

Early examples of shoin-zukuri guest halls furnished with shitomido shutters and tsumado doors—seen for instance on the east facade of Onjoji’s Kojo-in—preserved the shinden-zukuri exterior image although this had no func­tional or stylistic relationship to the kyakuden interior (see Figure 33.1).