16 January 2017
co+labo radović co+labo visits Kamakura to attend an exciting seminar on minka houses
On 11 January, co+labo hopped on a train bound to Kamakura. The sunny weather was the perfect backdrop for a special occasion, a seminar on Japanese farmhouses, called minka. Our hosts were Yoshihiro Takishita, a pioneer architect and collector, founding president of The Association for the Preservation of Old Japanese Farmhouses (APOJF), and Sumiko Enbutsu and her husband, members of APOJF.
We were welcomed with a video and presentation about the work of Takishita-san: being born in Gifu Prefecture, he started dismantling, moving and refurbishing wooden minka houses in the 1960s, and he has become an authority in adapting Japanese farmhouses to modern living standards (e.g. featuring floor-heating, state-of-the-art appliances etc.), while retaining the majesty and calmness of their ample interior spaces. On top of one of Kamakura's hills, he has assembled a group of minka houses (transported from Gifu Prefecture), which we had the privilege to visit. It was a chance to directly experience the feeling of living in a centuries-old wooden structure, with impressive vistas to Sagami Bay.
The minka houses we visited had another unique feature: they were adorned with magnificent folding screens (byōbu), porcelain and a collection of wooden structural joints used in minka carpentry. At this point, Takishita-san's experience as an architect merged with the one as a collector, and we left Kamakura with a much deeper understanding of the meaning and value of Japanese farmhouses, screens and porcelain.
co+labo thanks Takishita-san and Enbutsu-san for this wonderful experience, which proves that contemporary living in minka houses can be not only possible, but comfortable and beautiful too.
The visit was organised by co+labo PhD student Marco Capitanio, who also prepared this report. All photos were taken by Mr Enbutsu.