the Kusakabe House and the Yoshijima House



Representative Architecture of Tradesmen’s Houses in Takayama

A: the KUSAKABE HOUSE (the Kusakabe Folk Craft House) (日下部民芸館)

Once Rockefeller the 3rd said he wanted to own this wonderful house regardless of expense. After it was destroyed in a big fire in 1875, Kawajiri Jisuke rebuilt it in January, i879. He was a master carpenter. The flow of the Enako River, and the long moat with its white wall enclose this beautiful house.

It has the beauty of a simple, large-minded construction and of vertical and horizontal space.  In the exhibit room, you see some wonderful Netsuke 根付: an extremely small wood carving attached on a strap of a handy medicine chest. You will gaze at those Netsuke. They were carved by Hida-no-takumi. The technology and the tradition of this craft have been passed down correctly until today, and especially the one that the yew trees are used as materials are named Ichii-Ittobori, and they have been in existence. Those sculptors’ workshops are seen in places in Takayama.

In the rest room, you can take a cup of green-tea with some Shio-senbei (a sort of handmade Japanese cracker). They have a little salty taste. You eating the cracker,
it becomes wet naturally by saliva, then it easily becomes baby snack. But be careful
at first bite. You should not lying on Tatami-mat eating this cracker, because some
dry and hard bits of the cracker bit into your eyes.
Would you find it tasty?


B: the YOSHIJIMA HOUSE (吉島家住宅)

It is on the north side, next door to the house of the KUSAKABE
It was a Japanese rice wine sake brewery at first. The big ball under the eaves of the entrance was made of gathered Japan cedar leaves. It was a sort of advertisement
and enchantment for good business. This house is said to have a more feminine style
of architecture than that of the KUSAKABE house. After a big fire in 1875, the master
carpenter Sumii Hyotaro rebuilt it in 1907.

You also see some modern Japanese calligraphy written by Shinoda Toko (篠田桃江)
a very famous woman Calligrapher (a near relation of the Yoshijima). She has showed
the beauty of light and shade with India ink that was made in Japan.  It is no less a thing
that the beauty of this HOUSE.  Comfortable jazz plays (CDs) in front of a warehouse
(now it is an exhibit room, many folk crafts are on show.) on the first floor.
The jazz also makes you feel at ease. Drinking Japanese tea, you will think of old times.

yoshijima1 - c       kusakabe2