2017年8月23日 / 2018年8月11日更新
せとうち つなぐ キッチン
Wild flowers blooming in a meadow, gently undulating hilltops, it’s a timeless scene of rural Japan.
Essential elements in this bucolic landscape are “Ko-minka”, traditional folk houses.
Thatched roofs, wooden pillars and walls of packed mud, this traditional Japanese style of architecture exudes the picturesque charm.
In the old days, houses like this were home to most people in Japan and served as the place where strong family ties were forged.
The external appearance of traditional folk houses varies from one part of the country to another, but in most areas they are built with similar layouts.
This is a typical floor plan for a folk house.
The main entrance leads into an area with the floor of hard-packed earth called the “Doma”.
The Doma is the entrance hall situated at the same level as the ground outside.
People can come and go with their shoes on and they can do chores here such as maintaining farm implements.
Some Doma also serve as a kitchen because they have a traditional wood fire cooker called a “Kamado”.
Stepping up into the house from the Doma, you reach the central living space the “Hiroma”.
You take off your shoes before entering this part of the house.
In the middle of this room is a sunken fire place called an “Irori”.
The Irori serves the dual functions of heating and lighting.
The smoke and soot from the Irori rise into the rafters helping to keep the roof thatching dry and to drive out insects.
This helps to preserve both the thatch and the wooden pillars and beams.
Beyond the Hiroma, are rooms whose floors are covered with tatami mats.
Some of these rooms are called the “Zashiki”.
The Zashiki are formal rooms and are used for ceremonies associated with weddings or funerals, or for entertaining guests.
The most striking aspect of the exterior of folk houses is their thatched roofs.
Pampas grass and rice straw are common thatching materials.
Because the thatch has a high oil content, it repels the rain.
It also absorbs sound, making these buildings very quiet to live in.
The stalks used for the thatch are hollow and the air pockets inside provide very effective insulation.
The interiors of folk houses as a result stay cool in summer and retain warmth in winter.
Given Japan’s hot and humid climate, it makes perfect sense for houses to have thatched roofs.
For centuries, folk houses have played a vital role in the lives of Japanese people and today they remain as part of Japan’s idyllic landscape.