I enjoy the “Before and After” show on TV Japan. Yes, it’s a home renovation show, but with Japanese construction, architecture, and interior design.
Often the show is about some 50- or 75- or even 100-year-old house, with a lone grandmother living there. The architects do amazing jobs of refurbishing these old homes, and a common theme is preserving as much of the past as possible while incorporating as many modern amenities as budgets permit.
Much of what is torn down is reused, and often in emotionally powerful ways. Japanese construction features extensive use of beautiful wood, much of which can be reused or re-cut.
The architects also honor the departed. For example, items from a late grandfather’s workshop may be incorporated into the modern decor.
A favorite rock in the garden takes a new place of honor in the restyled greenery.
Was a deceased family member an avid ink painter or photographer? A favorite piece may be used as a template for a much larger decorative feature.
Perhaps the house used to be fronted by the owner’s business — a sushi counter or noodle shop — and elements of such are maintained and used in creative ways.
And since these houses are often being improved for elderly persons, many shows depict creative solutions to barrier-free issues.
Japanese homes tend to be smaller than North American ones, so often unique space-saving solutions are thought up.
It all adds up to compelling story-telling that educates and warms the heart.