In response to my last blog about log houses, a Japanese friend of mine – Mustang.Koji – recently mentioned the wooden homes of Shirakawa-go, Japan.
This was my introduction to the Minka wooden homes of Japan.
The term Minka (民家 literally “house of the people”) covers houses that traditionally accommodated a wide variety of people such as farmers, artisans, and merchants (i.e., the three non-samurai castes).
My understanding is that these homes are traditionally made completely of wood. No nails used in construction!
The Gasshō-zukuri (合掌造) style minka have vast roofs that are a large form of the sasu structural system. Their name derives from the similarity of the roof shape to two hands in prayer. They are frequently found in Gifu Prefecture.
Honmune-zukuri (本棟造) literally means “true ridge”. The style has a nearly square plan with a gabled roof that is board covered. The gable end of the house is particularly impressive with its composition of beams, eaves and braces. The gable is topped by a birdlike ornament called a suzume-odori (雀踊り). Houses of this type can be found in Gunma, Nara, Yamaguchi and Kouchi prefectures.
These houses fascinate me!
Thanks to Mustang.Koji for bring this style of architecture to my attention… and to yours.