Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hemp Leaf Pattern (ASA-NO-HA 麻の葉)

A popular Japanese traditional pattern. The name derives from the resemblance of hemp leaves. Since hemp grows strong and upright, the design was typicaly used for swaddling clothes, wishing for their child's growth.

Blue Wave Pattern (SEI-GAI-HA 青海波)

The design originaly came from china more than a thousand years ago. It was named SEI-GAI-HA (more literally means the blue wave of the sea) in the EDO period.

A tea ceremony room (CHASHITSU 茶室)

A tea ceremony room is a facility which is used for accommodating a guest by a host of tea gathering in tea ceremony.

*Jo-an 如庵
photo by 列島宝物館


A custom of tea drinking has been existed since Heian-era(平安時代) in Japan. When it became Kamakura-era(鎌倉時代) , the custom was wide spread around Zen(禅) temples. Tea drinking was not ceremony, it was a part of entertainment in the time. Since the custom of tea drinking was spread and became a habit, it got need specific environment.  A room attached tea facilities was gradually formed and established, and tea culture was too. the tea culture in those times was said SHOIN CHA 書院茶.
At first, Chinese tea things (tea bowl, wall scroll and other tea stuff) was used for a ceremony, but Japanese own preference gradually emerged, it connected to the tea room in the tea hut, the style was called "WABICHA 侘び茶" it was established by SEN NO RIKYU 千利休).


WABICHA was a counter part against SYOIN CHA 書院茶, it was a part of entertainment included noh farce 能, linked poem (RENKA 連歌) , much influenced from Chinese culture and wide spread among samurai since Kamakura-era 鎌倉時代 to Muromachi-era 室町時代.
WABI CHA was much more influenced ZEN 禅 culture. A tea set appearance at first grance to be footy was used at WABICHA ceremony against in SYOIN CHA 書院茶 ceremony, an expensive Chinese tea set used in it. There was ascetic ZEN 禅 philosophy in WABI CHA 侘び茶.
A tea ceremony changed from entertainment to ceremony for limited people to exchange their minds. This change let tea room's style change dramatically.


RIKYU was a person who established WABI CHA 侘び茶 and his tea room designs have had still impact to Japanese architectural design today.
RIKYU fully enforced ascetic philosophy to everything of tea instruments teacup, wall scroll, and even a tea room. He made a tea room apart from a residence, other ward made a tea hut.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rammed earth (HANCHIKU 版築)

Hanchiku 版築 was famous wall construction method in all over the world in ancient times.
It was made from only soil or mixture of soil and caustic lime.

It was strong solid, so it was used as castle walls, burial mounds or wall of houses.
As compared to it was used for large scale construction like Great wall in China, it was used for smaller architecture like houses or fences in Japan.

Since fine grained yellow ocher was suitable as a material for Hanchiku 版築,  each and every structural object like road, wall, house, temple, castle wall, bank and so on made of Hanchiku 版築in China which had abundant supply of it.
On the other hand, There was scarce amount of such kind of fine grained soil in Japan, Japanese used fish oil, caustic lime and straw as blend materials for Hanchiku版築, those material worked as reinforcement materials.  

* Horyu-ji 法隆寺
photo by 列島宝物館

Monday, October 20, 2014

Neribei 練塀

Neribei練塀 is mud and tile (Kawara 瓦) wall topped with tiles (Kawara 瓦).
Usually, It was made from tiles(Kawara瓦), mixture of mud, chalk powder and oil.

*Houdo temple 報土寺

We can see another type of Neribei 練塀 in Iwai island in Seto Inland sea.
That is used stones instead of Kawara.

* Iwaijima 祝島

Friday, October 17, 2014

Namako wall (NAMAKOKABE なまこ壁)

NAMAKO KABE なまこ壁 is a sort of soil wall, KAWARA 瓦 is attached on it's surface. 
White stucco is attached as a joint of each Kawara, the stucco is shaped in semicircular shape.  
The wall has better fire proof and water proof performance than usual soil wall. 

It was used for a samurai residence in Edo-era 江戸時代 (1603-1868) at first, then it was spread into ordinary houses.
We can see Namako wall cityscape in Shimoda (静岡県下田市) and Kurashiki(岡山県倉敷市) even today.

* Kurashiki, Okayama, Japan

A roofing tile (KAWARA 瓦)

Kawara瓦 is mainly used as roofing item, but there are many usage of Kawara瓦 in Japan.


Kawara 瓦 came down form Korean Peninsula to Japan in Asuka-era (飛鳥時代592-710).
At first, it was used for only temples as a roofing material. Then it had been gradually used for aristocracy's palace in Heian-era (平安時代 794-1185). It became Edo-ra (江戸時代1603-1868), Kawara was used for general buildings because it had fire resistance performance.


1, Clay tile (NENDO KAWARA 粘土瓦)

Clay roof tile is the tile made of mud.
It can be divided three types.
a). glazed tile (YUYAKU KAWARA 釉薬瓦)
b). smoked tile (IBUSHI KAWARA いぶし瓦)
c). non-glazed tile

a). glazed tile (YUYAKU KAWARA 釉薬瓦) It is tile having a glaze layer on a surface of a tile. since the glaze layer makes strong surface, it has better quality to last long than other types. b). smoked tile  (IBUSHI KAWARA いぶし瓦) It is tile having carbon film layer on a surface of a tile.The tile is burned as unglazed tile in a boiler, then when the temperature decrease around 950℃, the boiler is tightly sealed to retain all carbonation. the carbonation make carbon film on the tile surface. The tile has uniform black color at first, but It will get change the color from black to silver with the years.    
c). non glazed tile (SUYAKI KAWARA 素焼瓦)
It is the tile burned without glaze.

2, Metal tile (Kinzoku Kawara 金属瓦)

It is a tile which made from wood with thin metal on the surface.
It was began to be used for some castles in Edo-era (江戸時代1603-1868). It is considered that they use Metal Kawara to reduce the weight of a roof of such a high building.

3, Stone tile (ISHI KAWARA 石瓦)

It is a tile made from stone.
It thought up to use in cold area.  Because clay tile got freezing damage, It couldn't be used in cold area.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rubble masonry (ISHI ZUMI 石積)

Basic technique of Rubble masonry was come from Korea to Japan.
The technique was developed as stone wall in a process of construction of Azuchi Castle in 1500s.

TYPES 1, Boulder masonry (Tamaishi-zumi 玉石積み)Masonry made of natural raw stone from river.

photo from wiki commons

2 (Gobo-zumi 牛蒡積み)Masonry made of natural raw stone which has long-bodied.

photo from wiki commons

3 Coursed masonry (Nuno-zumi 布積み)Masonry made of fabricated same size stones, it has horizontal transverse joint.
*Edo castle 江戸城 (Imperial palace now)photo from wiki commons
 4  Uncoursed masonry(Otoshi-zumi 落積み or Tani-zumi 谷積み)At first construct like valley with natural stones, then drop remaining stones to the valley, finally it works as strong hard masonry.  It has diagonal joint.

5 (Sangi-zumi 算木積み)masonry's corner set up on the square. 

6 (Kikko-zumi 亀甲積み)Masonry made by hexagonal stones.

7 (Ougi-zumi 扇積み)Masonry the figure was made like Ougi(扇) means the figure is spread toward the bottom.8 (Bizen-zumi 備前積み)Masonry using natural raw stones which have various size, it has very few clearance between stones.9 (Warai-zumi 笑い積み)small stones are arranged around large stone.

10 (Ano-zumi 穴太積み or Nodura-zumi 野面積み)Masonry made by non-fabricated stones.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Korean traditional architecture & Japanese traditional architecture

It's interesting Japanese traditional architecture compare with Korean traditional architecture.
Both designs originate from Continent, it meant China. Korean customized the design to fit to their environment and culture, then they carried down it to Japan and Japanese customized the design to fit to Japanese. There were same tastes between Korean traditional architecture and Japanese, but also there were some difference between them.

Joist shape

We can see similar wooden structure both Japanese's and Korean's, and We can aware Japanese one is used rectangle shape of wood, the other hand Korean's is used round shape wood's.
It was influenced by the difference of their environment.

Kyoto京都 and Edo江戸, it called Tokyo東京 now, were capital city since ancient time placed in south part of Japan. It was more south than all of Korea.
Kyoto and Tokyo are warmer than everywhere Korea. So, woods grow bigger than Korea's.That was one of a reason that it was efficient for Japanese to use divided tree into some of rectangle pieces and for Korean to use a tree as things were.     

Usage of paper 

Other interesting story was about paper.
Paper making technique was come from Chine to both Korea and Japan.
Different usage of paper were emerged in each country. 
One of interesting usage of paper in Korea was oiled paper on the floor with Ondl. Ondl means Korean traditional floor heating system. They made the floor by three layers; stone, soil and oiled paper. They attached an oven to the floor and air warmed by it went through into under the floor. That system called Ondl. Ondl was one of floor heating system in Old Korea.

* Korean traditional house in National folk museum
photo from wikipedia commons 

* Ondl system

Japanese invented Tatami畳 instead of Ondl.
Both countries have been had a habit to remove shoes in a room. It meant they needed the inner floor should be warm.

The floor difference might came from the difference of environment between Korea's and Japan's. Korea have been severer cold than Japan's in winter, so Korean invented Ondl system and Japanese invented Tatami to prevent cold air from a floor.
On the other hand, Stone floor was usual in Chinese traditional house, because they didn't have a habit to remove shoes in a room.  


Friday, October 10, 2014

a straw‐thatched roof (KAYABUKI YANE 茅葺屋根)

A straw-thatched roof (KAYABUKI YANE 茅葺屋根) is a primordial roofing format in Japan as same as many other countries.

It had been used since ancient times, but according to growth of settlement and it became dense in urban area, it was gradually avoided because of it's flammable character. KAWARA瓦 has gotten used instead of it.
On the other hand, in country side, it had been continued to use untill middle of 20th. Because the material for the roof could be easy obtain and farmers could maintenance the roof as a team in agricultural off season.

*Shirakawa gou 白川郷

The roof style need steeply-inclined roof, it made characteristic Japanese village scenery.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wood joinery (KIGUMI 木組)

There are techniques to use for wood joinery without a nail or a metal ware in Japan, it is called "KIGUMI 木組".
Those techniques have been inherited since ancient times.

There are many kind of Kigumi 木組, each technique is used for appropriate part along with it's purpose.For example, Chidori-koshi 千鳥格子 is one of complicated joint. It was applied to fence of jails in the past.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ceder bark (SUGIKAWA 杉皮)

Ceder bark (SUGIKAWA 杉皮) was sometimes used as exterior wall finishing, roofing, and fence in Japanese traditional architecture.

Since It has waterproof effect, good insulation and moisture buffering effect, It is suitable for Japanese climate.

*SUGIKAWA used as exterior wall finishing.


Yamatobari (大和張り) is a name of  a wall system. 
It is made by to nail a wainscot alternately.
Yamatobari is used for exterior wall, roof, ceiling and fence. 


It makes possible to both enable gain ventilation and block people's view by adjust a gap between wainscots. The function can keep backside of structure (basically it is wooden structure)  dry, therefore the wall system is commonly used for exterior wall and ceiling.
When Yamatobari apply to a fence, the gap is made bigger than wall, it can let adequate ventilation for a garden.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Soil wall (TUCHIKABE 土壁)

Japanese soil wall is consist of some soil layers on a base which is called Komai木舞 or Take komai竹小舞.


At first, soil wall which was imported from China and Korea was used in temple or shrine and apart of aristocracy's house in Asuka-era (飛鳥時代592-710). Then, along with epidemics of colored wall, It was spread among ordinary people in Muromachi-era (室町時代1336-1573) .
On the other hand, soil wall was also used for a farm house, but the soil wall was not same as stated before, it was natural generated from firmer's living culture.


Clayish soil is used for soil wall, marine algas called Tunomata 角又 and chaffs called Susa すさ are mixed into the clayish soil to addition strength and prevent cracks. Those added materials make some pattern on the wall. Ash and colored soil were used for making colored soil wall.
Architect's or gardener's have been designed soil walls by arrange the ratio of blending materials since ancient time.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Enshu Kobori (小堀遠州)

Enshu Kobori (1579-1647) was Japanese landscape gardener worked in Edo era (江戸時代1603-1808).

*Konchiin 金地院

He worked for both Hideyoshi Toyotomi (豊臣秀吉 1537-1598) and Ieyasu Tokugawa (徳川家康 1543-1616).
He made various architecture, but he known much as designer of tea rooms and gardens today.
His garden was characterized by straight line. Before his garden, There were no straight line in Japanese gardens. He made large straight pavement by used stones took a variety of forms, and he often effectively arranged square stones in his gardens.
Moreover, grass garden, flowerbed and daringly trimmed bushes can be seen in his garden. Because that kind of design was couldn't see before his garden, scholars are saying he was affected European garden design.

*Daitokuji Kohouan (大徳寺孤蓬庵)

Daitoku-ji Kohouan (大徳寺孤蓬庵) is said Enshu's grand sum.
There was a tearoom in the temple, it was named Bosen 忘筌. The was Shoji 障子 but it was stopped at waist height. it was also Enshu's invention.

*Daitoku-ji Kohouan Bosen (大徳寺孤蓬庵忘筌 )

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Semi outdoor space

Semi outdoor space has been important in Japanese architecture since old time.
It was "DOMA 土間" in farmer's house, or It was "Engawa  縁側" and other space under a roof.


"DOMA 土間" was a working space for farmers at night, in rainy day or winter.
A floor of DOMA was made as "TATAKI 三和土", the floor level was lower than other floor in house but as same as outside. There were a part which was connected to outside, sliding doors were installed to the opening to inhabitant could connect DOMA to outdoor space.


"ENGAWA 縁側" is still popular now in Japanese house.
It was already exist in palatial architecture in Heian era (平安時代 794-1185), usually ENGAWA was made along with the architecture's outline under the roof and it was separated from inner space with Shoji 障子, SUDARE 簾 or MISU 御簾.
ENGAWA had functions, functioning as buffer space to prevent strong sunlight in summer, and tiny event space for enjoy moon light, music recital and so on.

*" Genjimonogatari emaki" picture scroll of a tale of Genji.