Traditional Japanese buildings are completely organic and environmentally friendly, which fits the value system and cultural traditions/ beliefs of the Japanese culture. The traditional buildings, such as temples and old houses, were built mainly of wood and other natural materials, such as stone, clay, and grass. To build a traditional Japanese house a carpenter would prepare polished materials, the polished wood being the most important key material: the wood is used for the frame, wall, floor, and sailing. Today, not many buildings are built according to the traditional Japanese style; most modern buildings are very westernized and modern, especially houses (there are still many houses made of wood, but they also include new and non-organic technology for safety and comfort). Traditional Japanese houses do exist, but they have become so rare that, despite living in Japan for 23 year, I have actually never seen one; the closest thing I have seen are some very old temples. A traditional style Japanese house is twice more expensive than a modern American house, since Japanese wood is very expensive, as well as the labor fee (traditional Japanese houses are more difficult to build, take longer, and pay much more attention to detail). In addition to the initial cost, maintaining a traditional Japanese house is also very expensive and troublesome, because you need a professional carpenter that understands how to work with the traditional style, as well as very expensive materials. Modern Japanese houses are much cheaper and easier to sustain, costing, around average, $308,243/141.24m2.
The way the American culture and the Japanese culture view housing is very different today. American’s view houses as very permanent buildings that need to be fixed over the course of the years, so an average time span until rebuilding is 103 years; traditional Japanese buildings are similar. However, the average life span of a modern Japanese house is only 30 years. 20-year-old houses lose almost all value in Japan; personally I find this very wasteful.
I fully support the transition from traditional style buildings to modern buildings. Buildings should adapt to the current city plan/ condition. City became more congested, so houses have to be taller and narrower to accommodate more people. Japanese traditional houses are very long lived, but they usually consist of one floor and large spaces, which can no longer be accommodated. However, modern, wasteful design should stop, and a compromise should be made.