The Space Between: An Exploration of Ma in Japanese Culture

Publication Year



Ma, Japan, culture, Asian studies


Arts and Humanities | Asian Art and Architecture | Japanese Studies


Japan has always fascinated me. Knowing that part of my heritage lay on other islands across the Pacific from my home in Hawaii, I longed to learn more about this mysterious place and how it was part of me. I remember as a young girl, on my frequent trips to the library, seeking out books related to any Japanese topic. Colorful storybooks unfolded their legends of underwater kingdoms; picture books led me through their manicured gardens; and descriptive books taught me about their culture.

Through this study I hope to examine the definition of ma within Japanese culture. Using examples of interval space seen in traditional Japanese residential architecture, as well as those seen in patterns of interpersonal behavior, I hope to show how their features exist in duality and how they function as interdependent elements of culture, each enriching the other. In short, by studying these spatial elements, I would like to propose that the functions of ma in Japan make the very perception of space a unique and essential characteristic of Japanese culture.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

Asian Studies

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