Tag Archives: kominka

Llama & Legend discuss Kominka & Akiya #video

Minka Storytime video with Jaya Thursfield (Tokyo Llama) & Alex Kerr (Chiiori etc).

please settle in with a bevvie and enjoy this video slowly

Both speakers at the recent Minka Summit in Hanase, Kyoto-fu, Tokyo Llama (Jaya Thursfield) visited writer/collector/ visionary Alex Kerr (Chiiori Ltd etc) at Chiiori house in Iya Valley (Shikoku island).

They discuss ways to bring classic houses into modern age while retaining traditional charm, the joys of mixing new technologies and ancient art, and examples of how Alex’s 40+ projects since 1970s have come together as “positive public works“.

As well, they check out a city-block-sized Akiya and quick peeks at two other renovated guest houses, a kura turned restaurant, and another reservation-only country restaurant run by former Chiiori foundation staff.

Continue reading Llama & Legend discuss Kominka & Akiya #video

Event: Kominka Summit, April 2022, Kyoto

To: Friends in (mostly rural areas of) Japan

Re: Minka Summit 2022 (not just for Kominka) in Kyoto-fu

Memo: Folks from a very pleasant FB group called “Kominka Japan – A Resource for Traditional Japanese Residences” are putting on an event in rural Kyoto Prefecture towards end of April with workshops, speakers, presentations and a “mall of vendors“ focused on acquiring, renovating and building/living/community-sparking houses around Japan.

While the group’s main focus is traditional kominka farmhouses, there are members doing a variety of projects ranging from akiya scores to machiya townhouses to general fixer-uppers. Also tours of area houses and food vendors from local farms on the slate.

Three days with various reasonable pricing for one day, three day and/or optional dinner/speaker event + discounts/free for students, elders and kids.Held in mostly outdoor spaces and primarily in English but with various translation arrangements to accommodate. it’s grass roots / volunteer driven event and seems like a great chance to meet other folks homesteading in Japan.

Details and registration: https://kominkajapan.org/

More about Akiya (abandoned / unused houses) and other resources about acquiring and renovating “classic” houses in Japan

Japan Generational farm house and cottage story

+ Introducing our compound in Tsuchida, Okayama +

I joined a Kominka (trad Japanese country home) renovation, acquisition & enjoyment group and made a video introduction – sharing here in case you are curious.

‘Tis a little intimidating cause a load of people are doing incredible detailed projects in remote locations with all sorts of hand-tools and techniques but hey, i am adding to the generation story of our land – its all about the cycles.

Riff includes parents’ renovated farm house and our “cottage” under construction.

In brief: Both of these homes were empty from the 1990s until about 7 years ago when my (arborist/jazz singer) wife re-opened the cottage, the parents followed and the dilapidated old farm house was reno’d keeping all the beams, much character and details.
Now the cottage (which sits where other buildings did in the past) is getting a big new room plus a load of other upgrades to add to the story. A mix of trad joinery and materials and a few touches from the parent’s reno (genkon doors etc) and also insulation, woodstove, tea ceremony area, and big doors out to the carport as i hope our place becomes the local hangout for our son Ichiro’s pals in years to come.

Also a peek at wife’s Naya toolshed and glance at garden. Oh yeah, i also ramble on about my “origin story” of coming to Japan in early 1990s and working as a mushroom farmer in Tottori before running away and hitchhiking from Shikoku to Nagano where i first experience renegade inaka living.

Very pleased to add to my local community and respect the work of the ancestors.

the “Sistine Chapel” of kura granary barns

PS If curious i have time-lapse video of the roof raising and other artifacts from the kura which is now my arts and crafts studio and music lounge.

panorama of the backyard with garden, kura barn and bamboo grove

 

 

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…

 

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