Japanese precious woodmeiboku is cherished for its grain, color, and other characteristics. The value of meiboku is augmented in finding and selecting the wood; in specialized silviculture; in the aging, treatment, and fashioning of the wood; in distribution, display, and consultation; and, especially, in its integration into the design of Japanese-style rooms. Historically, forest communities embraced a labor-intensive tradition of meiboku silviculture and processing, but modern technology has reduced the labor required, the cost of meiboku, and, potentially, the rarity and value of the wood. In explaining paradoxes of value creation, Thorstein Veblen's institutionalism illuminates an iterative interplay between a changing culture of demand and divisions of labor, alternately traditional and rationalized, in meiboku.
Keywords: institutionalization, meiboku, rationalization, value, washitsu tokonoma.
Dr. PATCHELL is an assistant professor of geography at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. DR. PAYTER is a professor of
geography at Simon Fraser University.
Professor Gerald R. Patchell
Division of Social Sciences
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Phone: 852 2358 7811, 852 2335 0014 fax
Professor Roger Hayter
Department of Geography
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C. Canada, V5A 1S6
Phone: (604) 291-3327, (604) 291-5841 fax