UTSUNOMIYA, Japan -- Traditional Japanese joinery is a precise craft. Instead of using nails or glue, joints are cut into complex designs that fit together like a perfect Tetris puzzle.
The centuries-old technique -- called shiguchi -- delivers both beauty and function. The joints between a building's pillars and beams bear a lot of weight and can damage easily. Interlocking them to increase the area of contact helps alleviate the strain and strengthens the overall structure -- a particularly important consideration in an earthquake-prone country like Japan.