Japan Photo Essay: Inaka Architecture

Photographic inspiration from traditional Japanese countryside construction. Additional views here.

Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
View from the mountain across the valley of roof tops and rice fields.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
Backing right onto the steep mountain slope, water and soil control is very important. These buildings have stood here more than a century.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
Hundred year old traditional timberframe, exterior finish materials replaced in the last half century.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
Generations of expansion and addition make for tight courtyards and narrow streets. The kura (蔵, secure storage building) at lower right was originally a sakaya (造り酒屋, for selling sake) when first built.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
One of the oldest buildings on the property, originally a small residence for newlyweds (座敷, zashiki) added on to the father’s house compound.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
Hand hewn beams and warajuraku/tsuchikabe walls filled with clay and straw plaster on bamboo lath.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
Copper eavestrough, corrugated steel, and clay tiles are later additions but the main structure is intact.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
The small residence butted up against an older naya (納屋, barn/toolhouse) originally for making tofu now used as a workspace and tool storage area. Un-plastered tied bamboo lath visible through the gap indicates the later construction.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
End wall of naya, originally protected with shou sugi ban (焼杉板, vertical charred cedar siding), now with corrugated steel. Note the open bamboo lath vents/windows on gable.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
An old kura that lost its wood siding in a recent major typhoon. Handmade straw rope is revealed in the straw and clay wall as the rain weathers the surface.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
View of the kura roof construction as well as the original white plaster finish that has worn away to reveal the bamboo ribs inside the walls.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
Another angle of the kura roof construction showing the eaves. Kura are designed with thick walls for fire resistance and controlled temperature and humidity.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
Foundation stones and mounting boards for the wooden yakisugi / shou sugi ban (焼杉板) siding.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
This building will not last long in this condition, with the clay walls exposed to the weather.
Traditional Japanese architecture in the rural countryside
A rural family garden, in the background a kura in better repair joined with a kiya and home, all in shou sugi ban / yakisugi and forming three sides of a courtyard.

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