Why pagodas don’t fall down Reading Answers And Question

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IELTS reading passage – Why pagodas don’t fall down

Why Pagodas Don’t Fall Down

How have Japan’s tallest and seemingly flimsiest historic buildings, some 500 or so wooden pagodas, weathered decades of typhoons and earthquakes? Since records began being kept, only a couple of them has collapsed in 1400 years. Those that no longer exist were probably lost in fires caused by lightning or a civil conflict. The Hanshin earthquake of 1995 was a catastrophic event that killed 6,400 people, destroyed elevated roads and office buildings, and leveled the port district of Kobe. Despite destroying many neighboring structures, it spared the majestic five-story pagoda at the Toji temple in nearby Kyoto.

Japanese scholars have long been perplexed by these tall, slender towers. After decades of careful planning, office buildings of more than a dozen floors were not built until the 1980s. In 1968, the 36-story Kasumigaseki skyscraper in central Tokyo was recognized as a technological wonder for its ingenious suspension mechanisms to prevent seismic damage. In 826, Kobodaishi used only pegs and wedges to secure his timber building when he shot his Toji pagoda 55 meters into the sky, about half as high as the Kasumigaseki skyscraper, which was completed 11 centuries later. Instead of fighting nature, traditional Japanese carpenters let buildings swing and settle on their own. But what kind of shenanigans?

In the sixth century, the multi-story pagoda was brought to Japan from China. They were initially brought with Buddhism and associated with significant temples, just like in China. In the following centuries, the Chinese mostly employed their pagodas as watchtowers and constructed them out of stone or brick with inside stairs. However, when the pagoda arrived in Japan, its architecture was freely altered to fit the country’s needs. They were typically built with five rather than nine storeys, were mostly made of wood, and did not have staircases because the Japanese pagoda was more of an artwork than a functional structure. Typhoons that hit Japan in the summer forced Japanese architects and builders to discover how to extend building eaves further than the walls. This stops rainwater from pouring over the walls. The overhang found on Japanese pagodas is not present in pagodas in China or Korea.

The roof of a Japanese temple can be designed to extend out over the walls by half or more of the structure’s width. Also, unlike many Chinese pagodas, which are covered in lightweight porcelain tiles, Japanese pagodas have considerably heavier earthenware tiles covering their long eaves. This does not, however, explain the incredible lifespan of Japan’s pagodas. The great central pillar of a Japanese pagoda, known as a shinbashira, is supposed to bend and sway like a pine tree trunk during a typhoon or earthquake, prompting some to question whether or not this is true. Decades of consensus have existed between specialists in this regard. The surprising fact that the shinbashira does not support any weight indicates that the answer is more intricate. Instead of being tied to the ground, some pagoda designs suspend it from the pagoda’s pinnacle, enabling it to dangle freely in the structure’s center. Twelve outside columns and four inside columns support the whole structure.

The easiest way to comprehend what the shinbashira performs is to watch a video that Kyoto Institute of Technology structural engineer Shuzo Ishida developed. Because of his intense curiosity about pagodas, Mr. Ishida is affectionately referred to by his pupils as “Professor Pagoda.” He constructed many models and put them to the test on a “shaketable” in his lab. To put it briefly, the shinbashira was swinging back and forth like a massive pendulum that was still. The ancient architects appeared to comprehend the same ideas that were utilized to construct Japan’s first skyscraper more than a thousand years later, despite the fact that they lacked access to highly sophisticated math. Early constructors discovered via trial and error that pressure applied to a pagoda’s loose stack of floors might cause them to rise and fall independently. The pagoda appeared to be doing a snake dance from the side, with each level rotating anticlockwise to the ones above and below it. Through a gap in the center of the structure, the shinbashira climbed to the top. It prevented the floors from shifting too much because as they moved past it, energy was sent down the column.

One further peculiarity of the Japanese pagoda is that the vertical pillars that support the structure are not joined to the pillars above them. This is due to the fact that as you move down the building, the floor plans get increasingly cramped. A five-story pagoda, on the other hand, does not rely on a central support pillar to bear the structure’s weight from its upper to lower levels. More baffling is the fact that a Japanese pagoda’s levels are not connected, in contrast to pagodas in other nations. The hats are simply stacked atop one another. Interestingly, current Japanese building regulations prohibit this type of design.

The best way to see them is as the balancing poles used by tightrope walkers. It’s significantly easier for the tightrope walker to maintain their balance when there’s more mass at each end of the pole. A pagoda can be seen in a similar light. Mr. Ishida claims that the building responds gracefully to even the most intense earthquake shock by swaying rather than suddenly shaking because of the way its eaves extend out in all directions “like balancing poles.” With the eaves projecting outward like balance pillars, Mr. Here again, ideas from modern structural engineering were anticipated by Japanese master builders a thousand years ago.

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Why Pagodas Don’t Fall Down IELTS Reading Questions

Questions 1-6

Classify the following as typical of

 A. both Chinese and Japanese pagodas    
B. only Chinese pagodas    
C. only Japanese pagodas

Write the correct letter, AB, or C, in boxes 5-10 on your answer sheet.

1. simple internal access to the top
2. tiles on eaves
3. usage as a watchtower
4. eave heights can be up to one-half the width of the structure.
5. fundamental religious intention
6. sagging floors that are above one another

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Questions 7-9

Choose the correct letter, AB, C or D. Write the correct letter in boxes 11-13 on your answer sheet. 

7.  The levels of a Japanese pagoda called storey are

A. joined by special weights
B. linked only by wood
C. fitted loosely on top of each other
D. fastened only to the central pillar

8.  Experiments are being conducted by Shuzo Ishida in an attempt to

A. understand ancient mathematics
B. improve skyscraper design
C. be able to build new pagodas
D. learn about the dynamics of pagodas

9.  The shinbashira is a characteristic feature of Japanese pagodas.

A. bear the full weight of the building
B. bends under pressure like a tree
C. connects the floors with the foundations
D. stops the floors from moving too far

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Questions 10-13

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage? In boxes 1-4 on your answer sheet, write

YES               if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer
NO                if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN  if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

10.  In the past 1400 years, only two Japanese pagodas have fallen.
11.  The Toji temple pagoda was demolished in the 1995 Hanshin earthquake.
12. The other structures in the area of the Toji pagoda had been built in the past 30 years.
13. The architects of pagodas figured out how to store some of the energy created by natural disasters.

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Why pagodas don’t fall down Reading Answers

1. B
2. A
3. B
4. C
5. A 
6. C
7. C
8. C
9. D 
10. Yes 
11. No
12. Not Given
13. Yes


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