Build Japan!In this blog, I will introduce you Japanese buildings in Kansai area as a project of Visual Anthropology class.



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NARA 01:25

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say good bye 01:17

Machiya in Nara is protected by the city ordinance, but nowadays it became harder to find this type of traditional Japanese houses.
People get used to western life style, they think the life in this type of houses is inconvenient. Now we have glasses for windows, curtains to avoid passengers' eyes, the electric lights and the air conditioners...etc..

We have a lot today, then what we lost?
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supernatural 00:25

Do you notice that almost all woods of Japanese houses stay unvarnished?
It is said because the Shinto idea widely spread among Japanese people that there are gods inside every thing, Japanese people try to avoid to change natural materials. Covering them with paints and varnish is rude behavior to these gods.

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walls 00:09

I said the walls are made of the earth and the mud, Japanese people used to use these materials for a long time.

Can you see the bamboo frame inside the wall? The outer wall consists of closed two walls, that means there is a hollow inside the wall. So inhabitants can avoid cold air from the outside.
Traditional Japanese houses were only made of natural materials. Nails are not needed, because sometimes metals are considered as loud things.
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The Naramachi Centre 23:52

The ordinary people used fences or hedges, but rich people build walls around their house. When I see walls around the house, I immediately think that the inhabitants of the house are rich. Even if I can't see the house itself, I know inhabitants' status. If we can't see inside, that means the people inside the house have power. We need power not to let people look in.

These walls were made of the earth and the mud. They are cool in summer and stabler than bamboo fences or hedges.
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machiya 2 22:58

Because of the humid air in summer, Japanese houses need good ventilation. So windows are very big. In the old days, when glasses are not used for windows, these lattice windows were very useful. If it is a rainy day, inhabitants close the shutters and prevent rains and cold airs.
Japanese people need big windows, but they want to divide inside and outside clearly. If there is not enough space to build walls, what should we do?--put lattices at the windows.

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machiya 22:31

This is machiya in Naramachi. They were build from the Edo period to the Meiji period. They already have fences around them.
These lattice windows let sunlights and breeze into the house, but they don't let passengers look into the house (the inhabitants can see the outside clearly).

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futon≒布団→Japanese mattress 01:13

Why Japanese people sleep with 布団、Japanese mattress?
The answer is simple. Japanese houses are small. If you put a bed in your room, you can't use that place anymore. But if you put the mattress on the floor, when the morning comes, you can clear the floor and put the mattress in the closet.
Furthermore, because of the humid air of the rainy season, it is easy to mold. If you use the Japanese mattress, you can hang out it easily. And to use the Japanese mattress, Tatami is important, because it is better at ventilation than flooring.
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the case of the detached houses 2 23:58
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the case of the detached houses 23:58

Too close distance between houses make people uncomfortable. However, from old days--because Japan is a small country--people had to bear the situation. So they devised fences and hedges. If you don't want passengers take a peek at your house, you can sacrifice your narrow garden and plant small trees. They will hide your house from passengers' and neighbours' eyes.
People also made fences of dry bamboo, reeds and stones. Stones are used in the south region of Japan(like Okinawa) because people in there are hit by typhoon every year. In such a region, houses are shorter to avoid blasts.
Now, people prefer hedges because their houses became "western style".
Bamboos and reeds are "too Japanese" for them.
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