Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bamboo lath (TAKEKOMAI 竹小舞)

"TAKEKOMAI 竹小舞" is the lath used on top of rafters beneath sheathing and roofing materials.
It was usually used as the lath for soil wall in ancient time.


TAKEKOMAI 竹小舞 was generalized in Kamakura-era (鎌倉時代 1185-1333). Before it, Japanese cypress was used instead of TAKEKOMAI.

For example, There is soil wall which was made by a way nearly same as today's in Horyu-ji 法隆寺, it means the way of making soil wall was nearly completed in Asuka-era (飛鳥時代 592-710). There was a lath made from Japanese cypress in  the soil wall of Horyu-ji 法隆寺.
Horyu-ji (法隆寺) was made by Korea carpenters, The technique of making soil wall was came from Korea, and the lath has been developed to Japanese style lath as bamboo lath in Japan. 


"SHITAJIMADO 下地窓" is a window which is make a part of soil wall, remain uncoated area and show bamboo lath is TAKEKOMAI 竹小舞.
It was often made in Tea room.


Monday, September 29, 2014

A lattice door (KOSHIDO 格子戸) 

KOSHIDO (格子戸) is a door which has functions both separating and gain sunlight and air ventilation.
But on the other hand, KOSHIDO couldn't prevent cold air from outside in winter, so, it was developed as a paper sliding door (AKARI SHOJI 明障子)or a double lattice window (MUSOU KOSHI 無双格子).


Double lattice window (MUSOU KOSHI 無双格子) was invented to prevent cold air and avoid someone's eye but to gain sunlight in a room.
It consist of pair of KOSHIDO 格子戸. We can adjust the gap between wood bars by adjusting position of 2 doors. it makes a room more comfortable.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Bamboo blind (SUDARE 簾 and MISU 御簾)

SUDARE(簾) is a shade made from bamboo or reed.
It is used for window shade or to partition a room.

Since there is a Waka(和歌) poem which express SUDARE was moved by Autumn wind, SUDARE have already existed in Nara-era (奈良時代 710-794).
A SUDARE which has green piping on the edge named MISU(御簾). It was used as a partition in rooms of court aristocracies and feudal lords in old time. The function was to separate a space between royal parsonage and general public.

* Saieishi  Chobun (鳥文斎栄之)

* Kunisada Utagawa (歌川国貞)

SUDARE is still used today.
It used as a window screen to block sunlight while keeping air ventilation.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Japanese sliding door (SHO-JI 障子 and HUSUMA 襖)

Sho-ji(障子) is one kind of Japanese fitting used for a window or a door.

A translucent screen made of a wooden frame covered with thin Japanese paper (WASHI 和紙) was called AKARI SHO-JI(明障子), and separated from Sho-ji in the last period of Heian era(平安時代 794-1185).
But nowadays, Sho-ji means a translucent screen and Husuma(襖) means blind screen. Ofcourse, Sho-ji is used in Japanese house and other buildings still today. 

*front screen: Husuma (襖), back screen: Sho-ji (障子)
Sho-ji was invented as a screen which had both functions to get daylighting and to block people's eyes from outside. Before Sho-ji invention, people used Bamboo blind (SUDARE 簾) and lattice door instead of Sho-ji. But people couldn't avoid cold air with those screens in winter. compared with those screen, Sho-ji was epoch making invention in the time.  



Sho-ji and Hosuma are still used today. Especially Sho-ji is liked as screen makes soft light which makes us to feel Japanese atmosphere. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stone garden (KARE SAN SUI 枯山水)

Kare-san-sui is one of style of Japanese stone garden, there is no water in the garden.
Water scape is expressed by sand or stones instead of real water.

*Ryoan-ji (龍安寺)


Stone garden was developed at Zen(禅) temple in Muromachi era (室町時代1338-1573).
Zen temple preferred abstract garden, the garden was used for teaching how to reach enlightenment.
Basically, Zen monk practice in deep mountain and dark valley. But people practice Zen were more and more increase in Muromachi era, some Zen denominations emerged.
Those denominations needed efficient strategy to let many people reach enlightenment or at least feel a part of enlightenment. So, They made Stone garden (枯山水KARE-SAN-SUI) as miniature of deep nature.

*Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺)

Moss garden

Many Japanese traditional temples have moss garden in the site.

*Giou-ji (祇王寺)


There are some reason why these temples has it.
At first, The site was suitable for moss to grew up, probably there were natural moss garden before a temple was built.
Second, Moss is a symbol of history in Japan. Moss need long time to grow up, mossy site makes us imagine there is a lot of time. So, when we see moss garden, we feel long passage of time. The effect of moss garden is very suitable for temples, because temple is exist to inform teachings which were formed in long history and were thought not to change.  

*Saihou-ji (西芳寺)
photo:from wikimedia commons
There are about 120 types of moss.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Tatami is peculiar to Japanese culture.
The existing oldest Tatami was made in Nara era (710-784). It has little bit different figure from Tatami which we expect now, it was called "Gosyo-no-Tatami 御床畳" made of 4-5sheets of Goza mat (Goza is a mat woven by herbaceous stem.) .
It was getting to be formed the figure known as Tatami in Heian-era (794-1185). 

Tatami is consisted of 2 layers, surface layer and center layer, the thickness is about 5cm.Center layer is made of dry straws which is covered surface layer made from rush (Igusa いぐさ).Tatami has piping on the edge, the piping showed rank of the family in ancient time.Also, Tatami size was basic module for architecture,carpenters decided a room size to based on the number of Tatami.   

Monday, September 1, 2014

Wickerwork (AJIRO 網代)

"AJIRO" is a sheet knitted with bark of reed, bamboo, ceder or cypress.
It is usually used for ceiling finishing material.

*1: Made from bark of ceder

*2: Made from sawara cypress

*Made from bark of bamboo

The oldest Japanese "AJIRO" was made in later 5th century. it was probably used for a house for local ruling family. Later in the period, It was prefer to used as ceiling material for Tea room.