It’s nice to see Japan starting to appreciate old buildings, the way they do in Europe … preserving the good parts and updating the bad parts (e.g. modern insulation and heating).
My apologies … I haven’t given this blog and website the care they deserve. Also, I’ve received a lot of attempted spam in the blog (which I’ve blocked of course).
Please be patient.
In the meantime, here’s a link to a short documentary film: Minka.
John Roderick has published Minka: my farmhouse in Japan, which gives the story behind Yoshihiro Takishita‘s first minka. I’m just starting to read it, but I’m already prejudiced in its favor by the book jacket that evokes a hand-tinted photograph, and by the excellent typography. For a bit of background on the author, see the Japan Times article. You can read the first chapter online.
This picture comes from an article about travel between Kanazawa and Shirakawago, with more pictures: Japan Times Friday, Jan. 11, 2008.
My nephew lives on Sado Island, off the coast of Niigata prefecture. He has a master’s degree in architecture and has been interested in preserving ancient farm homes on Sado.
While visiting there last year, I learned that farmers who wish to move into more modern houses do not want to destroy their old farm homes, which are like shrines to their ancestors.
The farmers rent out the homes inexpensively as long as tenants keep the structures in good condition.
The Economists more intelligent life magazine has an article on the perfect cup of tea. The picture has a guy in the desert with a shaved head, dressed in red, doing something with a thermos jug. The article talks about a gizmo for making the perfect cup of tea.
But its good to see an appreciation of fine tea: over the past 16 years, tea-sales in the United States alone have grown from $1.8 to $6.5bn, with the largest growth in the high-end and specialty sectors. (Although the author is a bit confused about green tea: its not lightly fermented but rather lightly steamed.)
Anyway, this reminded me of Omotosenkes website, and its article on tea rooms and other aspects of traditional Japanese architecture (Omotosenke is one of the three main schools of tea in Japan). Although tea rooms might seem to be very far from traditional country architecture, the tea rooms often evoke a rustic quality. And Takishita-san has incorporated them into some of his reconstructed minka.