Tag Archives: construction

Diary: Tsuchida station grounds projects, various

Busy around the house, now the construction is “done”, doing some garden, yard, landscape, and kura/naya jobs… the glorious mundanity of the tiny things which make all the difference. Be prepared, nothing *shocking* or exciting, just the usual days.

Hemp cloth wrapped on shelves made from wedding dais / under the dust cover is 1982ish Yamaha GT-2000 turntable & analog amp plus TEAC cassette/CD/usb/1/4” deck. Thats not *all the records* but a solid batch.

Another string of lights *and* Palau static montage… legit handcrafted speargun etc etc

Wood splitter, borrowed from forester Ukan and parents split up this rack / its loud & ornery but does the job

All hardwood – mostly oak and maple, odd bits of others (arborist wife often bringing home big chunks) This was all F&M-in-law. Epic. I’ll fire it up though (i just encourage)

Breaking rocks in the hot sun… (Ryoko has made a time-lapse of this rather intensive, long project…)

Continue reading Diary: Tsuchida station grounds projects, various

Tsuchida Station ~ grounds project (weather station)

Now your jovial correspondent Takushi Fujita can transmit detailed weather information directly from Tsuchida Station including temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, UV, wind speed, rainfall and other sundry data.

{Next I hope to get him a shortwave transmitter to send this information “into the sky“ pending/maybe – in the meanwhile will attempt to connect it to Wi-Fi to then connect to various crowd sourced weather data sites, eventually.

Short version of current weather: hot and humid (not scientific :))

Update: found an electrical outlet adapter so I will circle back to get this working and also document the make, model and API for numerous inquiries.

Updated & online via the internet

Lists for “beginning of end” with coffee in bed

The beginning of the end of the Tsuchida Station construction project… But you know, “the last 5% is the hardest 95%” next comes cleaning all the parts, a few fine-tuning bits and moving stuff all around. “Don’t worry, I’m super good at this part” (he whispers to himself).

Ergo:

  • Checking off past steps
  • Scribbling down next steps
  • Adding a few bonus projects to make it all a bit more fun

(Obviously written in code & in bed)

Tsuchida Station Construction Walkthrough

The construction folks have a day off, the cleaners came this morning, the protective sheets came off yesterday so,… did a “cheap and cheerful” look around the new big room, the renovated room, the hallway and closet with maple flooring showing off a couple things including: hand wash sink, vintage doors on genkon, woodstove alcove, tile backsplash, strategically-placed windows, and pickle storage etc.

Anyhow, hang out for 5 mins and see how we are time traveling in Okayama.

Entranceway to our new living/everything/music room features vintage sliding doors (from their parents’ house remodel) + outer (new) genkon doors plus (quite brilliantly) a hand wash sink as soon as your enter / Will be fantastic for our little guy and his buddies, as well as everyone else, keeping it clean. Wood counter, tile backsplash – lots of different textures and surfaces throughout the house.

Note the maple floors, plaster walls and a hint of the big patio doors to the carport which will become party/barbecue/multipurpose space and has another sink, 1.5 m stainless steel with counter for pickling, tool washing, plant potting etc.

Abode: Tsuchida Cottage (*old* street view)

Regarding Tsuchida cottage / house: as mentioned in previous “Japan cottage musings” videos (Tsuchida Yard & Garden & Generational Home), from the 1990s up until a few years ago, the “big house” was vacant and had fallen into disrepair as evidenced by this screenshot from Google Street view.

You can notice Ryoko’s tool shed with its charcoaled yakisugi walls in the foreground, as well as directional traffic mirrors and way-finding/ distance signs to no place in particular.

The Garden too looks rather forlorn.

Ryoko and Father with Shinto priest performing ceremony on the land before house renovation

The house was completely renovated keeping original character, “bones” and many details but upgrading well… everything else / work by our family friend Morioka-san and his company AC studios (more about this in the “kura introduction” dossier). 

So much has changed, so much more will evolve.

Tsuchida Cottage Construction Roof Raising (time lapse + snaps)

After a 3+ weeks of digging out and laying foundation, connecting to various systems and preparing all the timbers with specific joints, as well as removing walls, clearing out eaves of giant beehives and adding insulation, on an auspicious day, a crew came and assembled the main structure (walls and roof) of the house addition.

Basically a new room where previous was a car park which now sorta connects the existing house with a carport and naya (tool shed). Overall, there will be a new genkon (formal entrance), a woodstove, handwash station, the piano and desks will move in here too along with a heavy big table. Skylight and windows including a “patio door” etc anyhow… T

here was a small ceremony involved (salt purification) and the architect Morioka-san chief builder Ishii-san and others were on site with a variety pack of workers. I (daveo) did a “coffee ceremony” with 3 types (both beans and preparation method) for the crew which was very pleasant.

We (the family) also went to tell Grandfather Ichiro and Grandmother Tomiko about the action at their ohaka (grave).

So…. during all this “Amish Barn Raising” event, i put an olden PhoneRobot on a tripod with extension cord – being careful to stay out of the way of workers and equipment – and ran a time lapse for various parts of 2 days.

The aim is/was to commemorate the happening and show the different construction tools and methods utilized. Nothing fancy… oh i’ll tack on a few still frames snaps at the end with minimal annotations. Possibly some of the lil trucks coming and going, i don’t know, i’m not at that part yet, we’ll see when we get there…

this snap is well-after the video above but was handy to add to the post…

 

Riff: about Tsuchida Cottage construction + vids

A few notes originally written to a friend as a letter in Feb 2021 riffing about the “Tsuchida Cottage” (soon to be “Station”) construction project.

Sharing here for my own posterity and remembrance, along with this video of the “wall raising” day (which also included the roof which you can see in this amusing time lapse video).

^ Above: quick video of workers pounding the wall joints together, March 2021

Riff: Notes from Tsuchida Cottage (soon to be “Station” as  the house is long and narrow and feels like a train so this is new “working title”)

Our construction project has started, 2 diligent sturdy men who are much older than you and I (likely), doing incredibly efficient rapid hard work with vigour and precision.

We set up a tea/coffee/snack station inside the house and another one outside, we took gifts to the neighbours in advance of the noise. We insisted, they refused, we pleaded, back and forth… 

The workers, fuelled by french press, gladly did an extra job since they had their adorably sized front loader & moved a bunch of boulders to fill in a retaining wall/drainage ditch without any complaint. A huge help as doing it with a tripod, pulley and a hand wheel dolly means three rocks is a hard afternoon. We gave them extra cakes for this. (there is a time lapse of doing a session last year with my tiny mother in law and pregoo wife, not a sturdy crew). 

When the HVAC man came to discuss the heat pump units (it’s an old house in Japan so no central heating of course and no insulation and a few rooms have these individual heat pumps which are heaters and coolers…) Anyway, told him I want one in my old grain barn which baffled him. {Keep in mind, each of these planning appointments requires all the formalities and tea service with a special cups and the correct “special” snacks etc.} Note: This gentleman has a slightly-dyed red toupee – still trying to hold onto his youthful style.

So I took him out to the barn/studio, up the stairs into the secret lounge and his jaw just about dropped when he saw my Clash London calling poster, stacks of records, 100 pound record player with an iron exoskeleton, a couple of lounge chairs, (he did not grok the exceptional collection of beat literature but that’s coming in handy for a Kerouac exhibition later this year etc. He *then* understood why this is needed/ wanted. But he wanted to put the unit on the wall which outside is the *perfectly preserved unblemished yakisugi wall* (I’ve sent along a photo in the past) but I explained that “the ancestors have somehow passed this barn down to my caretaking and this is aesthetic blunder is unacceptable so we’re going to have to put it here in this corner where no one can see it.”

He told me i have an old Japanese heart and as such, we will attach it to a beam that is prob older than the City of Seattle (colonially speaking) which is joined to the other beams without use of nails and screws so well, it’s not perfect but I will have a humidity control and heat pump and an olden barn to protect a lifetime’s worth of *valuable* books, records and papers.

I then asked him if the heat pump unit comes in something other than white, it turns out they also come in “off-white”. We looked at the catalog of all the different models and it was like the scene and lost in translation with Bill and Scarlet are looking at the menu of all the different kinds of meat and to the untrained eye, they all look the same. The catalog was 30+ pages of air conditioners that looked exactly the same – “The features were different” I was assured. I asked “don’t they come in brown or black?” But alas… not. I also asked if there was one with “a remote control that had less than 35 buttons” on it like maybe five buttons(?) but no, there are so many features but I want an on/off and a temperature control because I am a simple man. But robots win again. 

Anyway, here we are, doing a construction project and it is *completely different* than your construction project where everything picked with intention and care and custom made into a lovely glorious architectural masterpiece. 

In our case, we are adding to the tradition of houses in the generations before, and digging out some old pieces (for example a couple of 1920 era sliding doors for the entranceway), finding a few things at secondhand stores (for example a stainless steel sink/counter which will be the wife’s plant potting station), sourced a potbelly cast-iron stove which brought oooohs & ahhhs from the Japanese architect, scored several furniture pieces including a ultra heavy grand table from secondhand stores and brought down the total price of the project from equivalent of maybe 130,000 to about 90,000 with various resourcefulness (using numbers somewhere between CAD and USD as i can’t get my head around the flucuations). 

Told him we didn’t require television cable outlets, various other knickknacks and accoutrements. The kitchen will be more spacious but simple, not a bunch of fancy cabinets and a three burner stove (an upgrade from our two burner which reminds me of living in my Volkswagen van). Oh and a 2 part sink which was a shocking idea to Japan and required sourcing. I explained i need the space for dishes and space for making pickles – then i seemed brilliant.

Dream is Ichiro will come home with his pals and our house will be the “hangout” – with this in mind, also adding a handwash station right by entrance in a stroke of brilliance and a side access door for muddy kids and their gear. 

Bonus: for enthusiasts, a “slow” version of the time lapse video of wall and roof raising

Noticed: Kei-trucks at the cottage (+ couple more)

Perhaps more rare than Sasquatch, a Kei-truck that is *not* white {or every once in a while silver, or occasionally black…} Look at this earthen brown beauty! And with a little bit of an extended cab as well. Such luxury! Spotted in our front yard in front of the blossoming ume tree in the midst of construction. Want to buy one for Ryoko’s birthday #romantic

Another more standard work horse for comparison and amusement

Same as above but with another carpenter sweet lil Kei-van

its just gorgeous > mossy green/brown, A little bit of a larger cab, obviously extended for a bit of a stash, oddly enough automatic transmission as well.

Note: of course you can find Ryoko’s Kei-truck documented in this archive as well as the one i drove at the mushroom farm in Tottori decades ago – haven’t changed much i thought until i saw this beauty… 

Oh here’s Ryoko’s Kei-truck now (you can tell by her birthdate number plate) laden with olive tree which needed cut down

Hold on, there are more captured recently… now where’d i put those? {note, I’m really trying not to take pictures of all these  because well they’re hardly rare but, what can I tell you, mildly obsessive when I get a notion}

Lovely Kei-van noticed at medical appointment. Wheels not my style but size and shape is

Ryoko’s arborist colleague, the kindly Yuasa-san comes by sometimes and his rig is always tidy ready

Oh one more glorious organization job noted at a temple/cemetery in Katusyama. retractable roof, bins of tools all in place and ramp for off-loading mower #zen

Memo: Generational Home in Okayama

Posted as a comment on an article about someone’s kominka (trad Japanese house) project, sharing here so don’t lose it… ya know “the record” or posterity or amusement (with mild edits).

Hello from Sunny Okayama where my wife Ryoko and our new baby live on ancestral land in a “cottage” (kinda shotgun house slapped together) next to the parents who renovated Grandma/Grandpa’s kominka about 4 years ago keeping all the original touches but doing some practical and comfortable upgrades.

We are staying in a big tatami room while doing some changes to the cottage – lovely sliding doors, changed form original but maintaining aesthetics, engawas (where i sit now) now have thermal glass windows but also open fully for the fresh breeze.

We’re now bringing this full circle as we use the old sliding doors to the cottage reno, plus re-wrap the tatami mats rather than tossing out, plus adding an efficient wood stove (my wife is an arborist so always has wood gathered) – don’t get much snow but does get chilly and summer’s of course are hot and humid – plus adding a new room, moving kitchen into a more open location and whatnot. Also added a new ofuro bath so the 3 of us can bathe together #heaven.

Unlike the parents’ house, the cottage is sorta slapped together but we resisted a tear down and start again and making incremental changes. (Funny the parents said “you will just live in our house when we pass away” to which i replied, “you are 65 year old healthy Japanese so that means 30 years from now!”

Anyhow, the property also has a magnificent 150+ year old “kura” grain barn with massive wood beams, mud walls and 3 thick doors with cast iron puzzle keys. This has turned into my art studio and music lounge (needs a few little upgrades for safety and power/lighting) and a “naya” tool shed for wife’s business which also has loads of Grandpa’s heavy duty pre-war farm tools (including probably 6 pick axes!).

Documenting loads of this life (amongst other projects) if curious. Not a plug, just me saying “right on with your awesome project”.

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See Hannah Kirshner’s Lessons in Sustainable Living From My 100-Year-Old Japanese Farmhouse also aded to Akiya Resource round-up dossier

Tsuchida Yard and Garden – Japan Cottage Musings

With Ichiro strapped on whilst outdoors, Dave and some dodgy camera work walk around the yard and gardens of our home in Okayama, Japan. Stops include: picnic area(s), Ryoko’s tool shed, location of upcoming house addition, various wood piles, bamboo grove, Mother’s vegetable garden, the kura grain barn turned art studio and (of course) a persimmon tree.

Appearances by father Takeshi, Ryoko of course, and the neighbour lady stops by to see the cutest baby.

Tsuchida Yard and Garden: Kei-truck with shelf project

Scrapbooks, in process: construction techniques and material

Sample of new scrapbook series, built with (amongst other materials): beer 6pack covers & boardgame backs, and  2002 Thuringen (Germany) sports calendar covers.