When most rooms in Japanese houses had tatami floors, an easy daily cleanup was done with broom and dustpan. Sweeping removed dust quickly and was a simple activity that kept everyday life clean.
Such scenes are seen less and less often these days, but is this a good thing, even though our lifestyles are getting more diverse? Just to clean up a small space, we have to pull out a vacuum cleaner, use it for a short period, then put it back.
Bearing this in mind, why don't you keep a broom and 'harimi' (paper dustpan) in your room? A harimi is made from Japanese paper coated with persimmon tannin, and the size is about 20cm. The color of a harimi is appropriate and it will fit in with any kind of room. The size is quite small and it does not appear jarring.
Daily tools like a harimi look wonderful, even when left lying around in a room. Moreover, a harimi is very useful when used with a small broom for little spaces such as desktops and shelves.
Kataoka Family Residence is an old residence in Uda, Nara Prefecture.
The residence is in a preserved area that includes 9 old houses that were probably made between 1619 and the early Meiji period. The thatched roof house was made in 1680 and the terraced house was made in 1832. The Oden was used to accommodate visitors and it is beautifully decorated.
In the garden, there are trees such as an 800-year-old zelkova tree and a gigantic weeping cherry.
Kataoka Family Residence is designated as an important cultural asset and visits are possible by advance reservation. The buildings are still used as residences, and retain the ambience of a former townscape.
In Japanese, the word 'koshi' is a mathematical term for equidistant segments and dividers. Generally, though, koshi is used to represent lattice doors or iron grates.
From olden times, Japanese lattice doors were doors of temple-style architecture. This changed during the late Heian period when double sliding doors became more popular. Black laquered sliding lattice doors are described in the 'Tale of Genji Picture Scroll' and the 'Annual Event Picture Scroll'.
Lattice doors can separate spaces, ventilate rooms, take in light and make rooms look more beautiful, all at the same time. All of these things connect to the introduction of shoji: paper sliding doors.
The Omi merchants (Omi shonin) were based in Omi, but peddled their merchandise around Japan. The majority of them came from Omi-hachiman, Hino and Gokasho. Merchants from the latter, were known as Gokasho shonin.
Gokasho is known as the origin of the Omi merchants, who became considerably wealthy. Within the city, many mansions and gardens can be seen. The old city has been designated as an important cultural architecture preservation area. Some of the houses are open to visitors. Many of the shops and business enterprises that were founded in the late-Edo to Meiji period are still carrying out business today.
Okoge Hometown Village is located at the foot of the Chūgoku Mountains, by the side of the clear waters of the Awa River in Okayama Prefecture. The private houses and the thatched hut housing the water mill create a tranquil atmosphere recalling the old countryside of Japan.
The Okayama Prefecture Hometown Village System was conceived in 1974 to preserve the scenery of the countryside. Seven villages have been designated since then including Okoge Hometown Village.
In early summer, Okoge Hometown Village is a mass of green from the new leaves of the maple, checker and Kobushi Mongolia trees, while in autumn, visitors can admire the fall foliage around the village. In the Ochiai River that flows through the town, there is rainbow trout while fishing may be enjoyed at the Keiryu Fishing Place.
Hari is a flat length of wood, like a thin beam, used to connect pillars and larger beams in traditional Japanese architecture. Generally, the direction of a hari is the same as the depth of a building, and the unit is one 'ken'. One ken is about 18.182m long.
Also, in construction using materials other than wood, there are parts corresponding to hari that play an important role.
The history of hari dates back very many years. In ancient buildings still standing today, you can see naked haris taking advantage of the natural curves of the wood. Using natural wood without processing leads to stronger structures. Hari has an artistic attraction, too, for modern people; some houses have a roof featuring hari which is not for strength but for design.
The Old Eri Family Residence (Kyuu-Erike-Jyuutaku) is located in Ookawa-machi, Sanuki, Kagawa Prefecture, and is the oldest farmhouse residential building in all of Kagawa.
It was built in the 17th century, and originally was found in Nina, Ookawa-machi. The Erike ancestors bore their surname from this land, and settled on the estate. Currently, the house has been relocated to the Miroku Natural Park.
The layout of the house is known as 'sanma-madori' (three-room plan) and is harmonized by a style distinct to Eastern Kagawa. Its most distinguishing characteristics are the thatched roof, built using a technique called 'tsukudare', along with the simple decorations. The main beam of the house efficiently utilizes the bend of the tree, and is exposed at the ceiling. The ceiling of the house is formed by woven bamboos, covered with soil and clay. This kind of ceiling is called 'yamato tenjyo' ('yamato ceiling').
An 8-jyo (8-tatami) Japanese-style room with a tokonoma (alcove) is laid out, along with a traditional porch that is flooded with warm, luminous sunlight. Seeing people bask in the sun on the porch somehow brings a feeling of nostalgia, giving the house a sentimental feel. It has been nominated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.