Japanese architect, sociologist, and educator Kon Wajiro was living in Tokyo when the violent 1923 earthquake occurred. With his students, he visited the areas where people gathered after the natural disaster. Through simple yet refined drawings he began to register the temporary shelters and the sparse belongings of the refugees in order to testify their state of living, a condition reduced to the bare minimum.
During his life, Kon Wajiro kept on documenting the memories of Japanese civilisation in an attempt to keep their testimony in the event of their sudden disappearance or of their possible fading due to modernisation. He meticulously traced houses and types of furniture, ways of dressing and commodities, ordinary objects and people’s habit, generating a complex visual taxonomy of the transition of a culture toward modernity.
His studies gave birth to a branch of sociology, called “modernology” which aimed at documenting the evolution of places and cultures as a consequence of modernization.
Lisa Hsieh, “Architecture’s Disquieting Ghosts” in Log 41, Fall 2017