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Title: Future Development of Japanese Dwelling Houses
Author: Shiga, Shigetsura
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s Note

This thesis has been transcribed from a hand written document, some
Japanese and Latin words were differentiated by printing them, these
are marked with _underscores_.

All text in illustrations was originally printed in capital letters.

Words in small capitals are shown in UPPERCASE.

Plates have been moved to the start of the paragraph which they
illustrate. Titles, notes and labels from the plates have been
transcribed at the very end of the book.

Footnotes have been moved to the end of the paragraph to which they

Inconsistent hyphenation, variant spelling and the author’s
romanization of Japanese words have been retained. No changes have
been made to correct grammar, but minor changes have been made to
punctuation. Other changes that have been made are listed at the end of
the book.











  June 1 1905


  Shigetsura Shiga, B.S. 1893.

  ENTITLED Future Development of Japanese Dwelling Houses

  DEGREE OF Master of Architecture

  N. Clifford Ricker


Future Development of Japanese Dwelling Houses.

  Shigetsura Shiga, B.S.


It was comparatively recently that it became in vogue for the educated
circle in Japan to tour over Europe and America to observe and
investigate the manner and customs of those civilized nations. And at
length they deduced a conclusion that the so-called civilization of the
West is not only based on superficial progress of materialism but it
had profound root in the mental training of the citizens; comparison
and discussion have taken place in every institution of education
throughout the Empire. This is one of the procedures of pushing one
step further toward the advancement of this country. We hear also too
often of late years as to the questionable qualities of the behavior
of citizens toward the public, and so much talk about the improvement
of general customs of the country. All these are only reflections
arising from sharp observation of intelligent Japanese Globe trotters
who carefully compared with keen eyes all the conduct and behavior of

The manners and customs of a nation are only the reflection of means of
existence, which mainly consist of clothing, food, and shelter; what
we call improvements of national living is in the main improvements
in these three things. Other thing, such as etiquette, form only an
insignificant part which necessarily comes from the method of living;
when the latter undergoes a change a corresponding change will follow
in the former.

Here the question comes on the start and which at least is a most
predominant factor governing the design of our dwelling houses. Have
we to design our houses so as to sit on the mat, or to sit on the
chair? This may sound strange to a person alien from Japan, yet it
is a most important question for the native Japanese in this time
of transition. It will be too severe to urge one to chose one in
preference to another. If he likes to sit on the mat as he has done, or
sit on the chair as all European nations do, either make no difference
according to my own view, and under the circumstances of our modern
mode of living the houses should be suitable for either way; the
future will decide this question. Remember, however, that the way of
bending the legs under the weight of the body to which we have so long
been accustomed and which has characterized Japanese from all other
nations is surely a great impediment for the development of our legs;
comparative shortness of legs of all Japanese has as believed by some
its cause in this habit. Stretching a body on the Futon (a bed, without
bedstead, simply spread over the mat[A] on the floor) at night is not
healthy mode of sleeping from hygienical stand point taking in the
air much loaded with carbonic acid gas at night. Only common sense is
enough to know whether it is evil or not. Still I do not insist upon
changing our mode of daily life instilled in us from time unknown; it
might be too severe to persuade one to accomplish the work which is
almost impossible to do at present; it would be better to leave this
question to one’s own judgement for awhile. It will not take more than
a century before the problem is solved; and meanwhile it is enough to
remember that the only way for progress is to abandon what one consider
wrong and to adopt what is right. An inclination of a few minutes of
a navigator’s compass when he leaves a port makes a divergence of
thousands of miles in a course of a few days, so the discrimination
of the majority of people however small the matter may be, greatly
influences the civilization of a country.

  [A] Japanese mat is 2 ft. 10¾ ins. by 5 ft. 9½ ins. having thickness
  of 2½ ins. laid on wooden floor.

The second question is whether our dwelling houses should take an
appearance of European style or Japanese in aspect. According to my
own view, if one choose his habitation to look European he need not
hesitate to do so; but if he prefer to treat his house with Japanese
design he may do it so: Chinese, Hindoo, Greek, or Roman make no
difference whatever as far as the selection of design is concerned; the
determination of national art is another question not involved here.
The freedom of design should strictly be observed in any time and place
provided the precautions hereafter set forth be carefully heeded.

To live in a perfect house is an ideal or ambition quite out of reach;
but if he is wealthy enough to start a new home, that impartial
judgement and trained eyes with which he should discriminate what the
result will be is always necessary. It is dangerous for an uninitiated
to live in a house designed by an uninformed builder or an ignorant
amateur architect; the outlay for the house is too high to merely
display one’s vulgarity or low taste. A result which is an outgrowth
of inexperienced hands with little or no attention to the modern
application of science, and a sequence of a gathered knowledge of
worthless, scattered information would undoubtedly be surpassed by that
which worked upon common sense as its foundation and was finished by
the principle of aesthetics. This is a paramount important point to be
considered by either an architect or a house owner, and is the only way
to attain a result near to the perfect and not far from ideal. In this
time of transition the design of the Japanese dwelling houses has no
definite course by which to follow. And I deem it necessary to point
out what to be done and what not to be done for architects and clients,
for it concerns greatly the future development of Japanese dwelling

The object of human habitation is not only to keep out the weather or
to sustain the life alone; the habitation of primitive aborigines were
just for that purpose and had no further need arising from the want of
daily necessity. The development of human intellect improves the method
of living and its reflection is made apparent by the mode of cloth,
food, and dwelling. Civilized nations are not satisfied with houses
which were built only to keep out weather or to sustain the life alone,
but seek the dwellings which keep their life most safely and at the
same time most comfortably. The modern requirements of houses are much
complicated and involve so many principles. Notwithstanding that the
subject is one of the most interesting as well as comprehensive among
architects, yet it is viewed by Japanese architects with somewhat of
indifference. The aim and object of dwelling houses is of course safety
and comfort in living, but in order to meet the requirements of the
house we have to further consider it from scientific, economical, and
artistic stand points. It would therefore be appropriate to establish
a maxim according to reasoning, as is generally done, either in
criticizing or creating any thing; and my discussion on Japanese houses
is no exception.

Principles involved in house designing are not so simple as one would
suppose, for the work of house designing is simply an application
of the scientific, economical, and artistic idea. In other words,
stability, sanitary, convenience, economy, comfort, and beauty are six
principal elements which no architect or house owner should lose sight
of. These elements are principles which govern the designing of houses
and conditions which are to be fulfilled, if a house is desired to be
perfect, in any time and place. All houses should be erected on these
foundations. But the further we think the more we feel the question
becomes complicated; for the question of the houses is not so simple
that we can grasp it under the elements cited above. A house as the
abode of man as a social being; has it no relation to the development
of human society and human culture? Also has it no concern with human
character and conduct? In discussing dwelling houses, all these should
be taken into consideration. And though it seems to be entirely beyond
the scope of an architect’s work, yet it has a great concern with the
future development of Japanese houses.

There can be nothing perfect in this world; in order to fulfil one
desire something else may or must be sacrificed: for economy’s sake
beauty may be sacrificed; for sanitation convenience will perhaps, be a
victim. On the whole, the work of a house architect is plainly a matter
of compromise.

Modern Japanese dwelling houses should not be regarded like curios
which only gratify the owner’s curiosity by decorating _Tokonoma_ (the
recess in which _Kakemono_ is hung) and _Chigai-tana_ (a shelf in
the recess next to _Tokonoma_, art objects being generally displayed
on it) in a parlor. A house erected in its rational and appropriated
form, on lot in the circle of the metropolitan city of the empire,
attracts attention of all nations at large; no matter whether it is a
private or a public building is entirely of a public nature. The house
is undoubtedly the property of the owner, yet in its widest sense the
property of a country, and has a great influence upon public happiness,
and at once reveals the standard of living of the natives. We see
many a beautiful residence in Europe and America and notice that they
are not only boasted of by the owners themselves but by the citizen
who guides us to the quarter where wealthy people dwell. They are
apparently proud of the beautiful houses, but it may be understood that
they are inconceivably proud of the country which possesses them in its
realm. A house is surely a decoration of a state, an embellishment of
a city, an achievement of the fine arts. Natural supremacy of scenic
beauty is no special credit to the country. Artificial supremacy in art
and science is true pride of a nation.

[Illustration: PL. 1

Drawings of fences with diagonal supports.]

[Illustration: PL. 2

Drawing of fences with horizontal and vertical supports.]

[Illustration: PL. 3

Drawing of fence, and of a roofed fence.]

[Illustration: PL. 4

Drawing of fences with various types of support.]

[Illustration: PL. 5

Drawing of gates.]

[Illustration: PL. 6

Drawing of gates in fences.]

Japanese houses in general are destitute of nature of publicity; they
are confined in the enclosure of earth wall or tall wooden fence so
that they are hardly seen from outside (see the drawings of different
style of fences). Does this not mean that the house is build for one’s
own sake not being for the purpose of showing it to others? This
spiritual selfishness is well manifested in the predominant feature
of Japanese dwelling houses. Or we may draw a conclusion in
another way. The Japanese are generally known as reserved or modest
people and do not like to show off what they possess or what they have
done; they feel quite a shame if they are regarded by others to be
pretentious or vain. This prevalent motives common to all Japanese,
pervades all the doings of the people. The seclusion of Japanese houses
from the sight of the public is mainly ascribed to this fact; the true
phase perhaps not being in the selfishness but in the reserve. It
may be admitted, however, that Japanese houses in their construction
are not suitable to show whole structure to the public thoroughfare.
There is another reason that compelled the Japanese houses to take
the feature of seclusion; in the feudal time of Tokugawa Shōgun, more
than three hundred lords or Daimio being scattered over the whole
empire ruled their subjects or retainers with what we now might call
despotism. A subject who is in a habit somewhat of showing off his
wealth could not escape from the eyes of a lord, or a lord of lords
the Shōgun. The heavy tax was levied from him not as a charge for
vanity but it considered his wealth to be capable of giving as much
substantial assistance as he could endure for his lord.--The Corean
people of today is unfortunately a victim of authority under the same
circumstance.--Under such circumstances, is it not natural that a
person conceal his wealth from the inquisitive eyes of authority? The
seclusion of houses became necessary and it was, in fact, a natural
consequence. Japanese are modest or reserved as most Europeans call
them, but notice there is a difference between reserve and concealment.
Are Japanese houses modest or reserved as a result of national spirit?
Or are they so in order to conceal their true phase? This is a
question not easily determined, still it is safe to regard the result
as a sequence of mental reserve and material concealment, altogether
inadmissible to the modern idea.

If one is loyal enough to his country give up the principle of
seclusion.--I do not for a moment mean to persuade to show off--widely
open the gate and manifest the true phase of the house and beautify
it with his might, and, as a group, decorate the city; it is a duty
as a citizen, and is charity to the poor as a certain English lady
puts it. Tall wooden fence, heavy earth wall inclosing both houses and
gardens, altogether impressing an idea of a prison, should be avoided
in the houses to be erected hereafter.

This wide open idea much deviates from the statement made by the author
of “Successful Houses” on the American dwelling houses; “it certainly
lends no picturesque element to the landscape, and affords not the
slightest trace of privacy to its owner, but simply boldly proclaims
the ownership of the enclosed earth, as if to say: ‘I own these 60
× 175 feet; you may look over and covet my house, but you may not
enter’.” I do not believe that American wide open principle of house
lot may involve any selfishness or means to excite covetousness of
passing strangers. This principle, however, may not prove to be harmful
if it introduced, to a certain extent, in a seclusion principle of our
Japanese houses. Here I should again state that the seclusion principle
of Japanese houses does not involve any sense that “each man’s house
is his castle” which was said by laying most stress upon man’s proper
right. On the whole, the comprehensive idea of reserve and modesty
pervades all Japanese houses from exterior treatment and to interior
decoration. If it is one of the principles of human nature that things
half seen appeal most strongly to our taste and tempt us most with
interest and appreciation, as the same author said, American fences are
too low, and those of Japanese are too high; we should take the average
of the two.

The question of home education is a much talked of subject of late
years. It is of paramount importance for the parents and elders of a
family to lead their youngers and children by behaving themselves so
that the latter can be moulded after the mould which had been laid
down by the former. Most Japanese emphatically call attention to this
point when they talk of the home education. But we should acknowledge
that this is not all that will affect the character or culture of young
people. Every body knows that a school, in its nature is a place where
the young people are educated; yet the majority of people do not know
how the preliminary considerations had been taken in to account before
the erection of the school was carried out; the kind and arrangement of
the seats and desks, the position of black boards, the size of windows,
the descriptions of curtains, the size and shape of class rooms,
the height of ceiling, and even the minor detail of open and close
arrangement of doors. These and many other particulars are subjects
which one cannot lose sight of before the final end of education is
fulfilled. Thus, if such preliminaries be necessary in schools, why are
not like cautions, if not the same, necessary for our dwelling houses
in order that they may serve the purpose of home education?

It may have a certain effect upon undeveloped minds of children to
impart the mental taste of fine arts if one decorates the rooms with
pictures and curios. The hanging of atlas and the exhibits of the
specimens of plants and animals in rooms for decoration may help the
development of their scientific idea. Any picture or bust of an
illustrious man may give a hint in regard to their future career. These
are not important factors, however, from an architectural stand point,
as the decoration of a house though they may have no small influence
upon childrens’ character.

A father is the man who knows best his son’s character. Japanese is the
man who is most fully aware of the weak points of his fellow-citizen;
every body admits that we are inclined to irregularity in doing things,
destitute of selfrespect, indifferent regarding individual proper
rights, these are only a few among many which are to be cited. I feel
myself that these weak points as a nation may be attributed, for the
most part, to the construction and arrangement of the houses we live
in. We know that our present houses are the consequence of a change of
our national character which has been taking place from time to time,
and I deem it quite high time for us to form a new character by picking
up every thing that is good and throwing away every thing that is evil
without any regard to prejudice and to give birth to a new form in this
land of whirlpool of occidental and oriental current. Let me give
examples how our houses exerted an influence upon our character, and
thus the conclusion may be drawn that in order to bring about a new
character we have to remodel our houses accordingly.

Notice the manner of the working class when they are doing work;
they take rest irregularly while working; tea, tobacco, newspapers
are things to interrupt the continuity of working hours, and even
a little time is stolen by talking over some matter which appeared
in the newspaper. This is not only the case with working class, but
in some extent may be applied to the officials of some public and
private establishments. There may be various causes of this manner of
irregularity of working, still I dare to say that the construction of
our houses is one of the influences which tends to this abominable
habit. At least we are trained to do so in our houses. If we do so in
the house, why not so outside of the house? Nearly all wall surfaces of
Japanese houses are open for _Shōji_ (sliding sashes lined with white
paper having grooves on a sill, sashes sliding on these grooves) or
_Fusuma_, so that the temperature of inside and outside is nearly the
same in winter. The perfect ventilation is secured only at the expence
of heating. And if this imperfectness of heating be ascribed to the
situation of the country which, in most part, lies in the temperate
zone, we find quite a contradiction to this in the fact that Japan
contains states in the south whose average temperature is just as warm
as the Sandwich Island and in the north the states whose temperature
is just as cold as Boston, and yet the feature of houses is about the
same in both extremities except a little modification in construction.
We find such a fact in all countries in the world. Architecture is more
affected by the influence of style and materials than climate itself.

Japanese houses are heated by “_hibachi_” (literally means a fire
box: a box generally made of wood, the inside of which is lined with
a sheet of metal and in it fine ashes are filled and in the middle of
it charcoal fire is placed. It is an exquisite piece of cabinet work.
The average size is One foot six inches square and about one foot high
though there are great many different sizes and designs) in winter.
It is not indeed sufficient to meet the requirement for heating, and is
not admissible from the sanitary point of view. As we have nothing for
heating purpose but this “_hibachi_”, the only way to get warm is to
expose our face and hands over the fire so that our working hands are
practically tied up, for “_hibachi_” is not intended to warm the room,
inasmuch as the box is not designed to do so. Tea, teapot, teacups,
and hot water are generally seen around “_hibachi_” and attract one’s
temptation. This is a part of home life and often seen even in old
business offices and work shops. In winter we have such a system of
heating far more primitive than fireplace which was much admired by
J.P. Putnum. How can we hope from such institution a satisfactory
result of working? This custom leads us to do work irregularly indoors
as well as outdoors. In a word the construction of our houses is
responsible for a large share with this evil result.

[Illustration: PL. 7


[Illustration: PL. 8


The rareness of partition walls is a main feature in our houses.
“_Shōji_” and “_Fusuma_” are only partitions which divide one room
from another. (“_Shōji_” and “_Fusuma_” are illustrated in the plates)
A house itself is one vast room if “_Shōji_” and “_Fusuma_” be
removed, and from a master’s room a kitchen and servants’ room are
visible, for there is no distinct partition between them. Because
“_Shōji_” and “_Fusuma_” are not sufficient partition to separate one
room from another, simply we are careful not to intrude one another’s
rooms. In respectable families etiquette is strictly observed, and by
this imaginary partition alone one room is divided from another. As
we cannot expect such an imaginary partition in ordinary families, an
inevitable rude practice of intruding on other’s room is unavoidable.
Although in our houses a long narrow veranda serves the requirements
of a hall or a passage in European houses, still the lack of hall
system might be a main cause of the careless practices referred to.
Even though one dares not pass through the “_Fusuma_”, for instance in
a hotel, the voices can be heard and dust can penetrate through the
open joint of “_Fusuma_” into the next room. This makes evident that
the fact that our houses are so arranged that the privacy of rooms
is totally neglected. On the whole, abolish “_hibachi_” so as to
avoid an irregularity of working; put up partition in order to secure
privacy. Then one of the material aids of promoting the spirit of
selfrespect may be established.

It is generally conceived that Japanese do not lay much stress on
individual rights. This is well understood from the utter lack of
privacy of rooms. We can notice it specially in hotels under pure
native plan. Privacy of a room as I said is not well observed by the
average Japanese, notwithstanding much attention has been paid to that
in the form of etiquette by the higher class of people, though the
planning and construction of Japanese houses make it inconvenient to
enforce it. “Privacy”, said the authors of “The Decoration of Houses”,
“would seem to be one of the first requisites of civilized life, yet
it is only necessary to observe the planning and arrangement of the
average house to see how little this need is recognized. Each room in
a house has its individual uses: some are made to sleep in, others are
for dressing, eating, study, or conversation; but whatever the uses
of a room, they are seriously interfered with if it be not preserved
as a small world by itself”. The authors do not recognize that
privacy has been well observed even in European houses. How far this
was observed in our houses needs to be considered.

[Illustration: PL. 9


[Illustration: PL. 10


In a word we should build houses for the appearance sake so far as
architectural aspect is concerned, and as to the interior the privacy
should never be lost sight of. Our houses run from one extreme to the
other; unless they are kept strictly secluded by walling the house lot
by tall fences they are so widely open that one can see at a glance
from one corner of a house. We frequently notice it among the lower
classes of people. Fences are walls in Japanese houses; if they be
taken away a house stands naked or defenceless. How the nakedness of a
house exerts an influence upon the moral effect of inhabitants of the
house, we can tell it at once by their indifference to the individual
right, and their rude demeanor to the general public.

Vicissitude of the mode of living represents the alteration of the
custom of a country, and the latter is the result of the change of a
mental taste of the people forming a majority of a nation. In this
time of transition a considerable change in mental taste has occurred
and many a rite of old has been rooted out since the revolution of
1867. The houses in feudal times were chiefly planned to comply with
the mode of living of aristocracy or fashioned after the spirit
of _Samurai_ class. (The martial class). The “_Shinden-tsukuri_”
(living-palace-type) or “_Adzumaya_” of more than one thousand years
ago was a nature of pure aristocracy; indulgence in gratification of a
pleasure being the predominant object of its plan. The whole group of
buildings was like a summer house in modern sense. On the other hand,
“_Shoin-tsukuri_” (Study room-type) was a type which well represents
the spirit of _Samurai_, and it became undoubtedly the prototype of
modern Japanese dwelling houses.

To turn our attention for a while to an immaterial side of Japanese
domestic architecture noticing how it had been subjected under the
spiritual influence which at least in Japanese houses is efficaciously
influenced by other elements like religion, climate, and foreign
country, I deem it not quite amiss in this theme.

[Illustration: PL. 11


_Samurai_ class, the heart of the citizen represented the nature and
characteristic of all Japanese. Beside this there were agriculturists,
mechanics, and merchants forming four classes of Japanese society.
May it be understood that the social classes of Japan was not so
severely divided as Hindoo castes intermarriage between classes being
comparatively free, and occupations not necessarily descended rigidly
from father to son. Although these classes had been withdrawn from
society since the political revolution of 1867, still the spirit
remains. It may be interesting to note how this spirit is expressed
in our domestic architecture; _Samurai_ likes to dignify himself
and rule his retainers accordingly; so the house has a ridiculously
large gate and occupies exceedingly vast area in its plan. _Samurai_
observes the propriety of etiquette in the highest degree as he thinks
it a most important factor of a social decorum; for that reason, even
though there is no proper partition in the house etiquette works like
a strong wall. _Samurai_ will be regarded as mean if he displays
his possession like an exhibition, he intends it to be recognized
that his mind is as clean and simple as clean water is in spite of
having much valuable contents within; so in his parlor nothing is to
be seen as decoration but “_kakemono_” (paper or silk hanging scrolls
on which there may be paintings by eminent artists or ideograms
of famous personages) flower vase, if any, in “_Tokonoma_”, and a
few valuable articles on “_Chigai-tana_”, and perhaps one or two
“_gaku_” (painting or ideogram in a frame) over a lintel of “_Shōji_”
or “_Fusuma_”. These are all that we can find in the parlor while
hundreds or thousands, if he is wealthy enough, of these descriptions
are stored in “_Kura_”. (a detached store room of half fire-resisting
construction) _Samurai_ thinks it a greatest honor to keep his family
name among the martialhood as long as he can. He feels the greatest
disdain or shame if his family name is discarded from a list of
martialhood by any silly conduct, which can be redeemed only by death.
This naturally inspires him with reverence of forefathers who had
handed down the stainless family to his reign. Hence we see in many
plans of houses of respectable _Samurai_ a room preserved for images
of forefathers. This is not only found in the house of class but in
all classes of citizens and this for the most part may be ascribed to
the effect of Buddhism and Shintoism, the national religions of Japan.
_Samurai_, however is rather indifferent in regard to religious matters
in comparison with other classes of society; though the spirit of
honor or something like chivalric idea of middle ages in Europe was
heightened to the utmost. As to the idea or conception of _Samurai_
Professor Inazo Nitobē in his recent work “Bushido, the soul of Japan”
treats it in full detail, my conception on the same may not precisely
conform with Professor Nitobē, still I believe there may not be a
great contradiction between us. On the whole in the feudal system of a
government the relation of a _Daimio_ or a leader of _Samurai_ to the
latter is well manifested in a like feature in the relation between
_Samurai_ and his retainers. The shadow of feudal systems is cast in
everywhere in social life and even the planning and construction of a
house is greatly modified by it.

It is curious to note that so called American balloon frame
construction represents the idea of Americanism, the democracy, each
member having no special office particularly assigned to it, yet
stands firmly by joint strain. I do not for a moment deduce that
a system or a form of government has any direct connection to the
construction of a house; but it modifies greatly in the planning of
a house for the reason that a plan of a house evolves a national idea.
This is well illustrated by the plan of both American and Japanese
dwelling houses. Is it not also strange to observe that by studying
the construction of our peasant’s house which has a middle, main post
called a “_Daikoku-bashira_” (“_Daikoku_” is a name of god of wealth,
“_hashira_” or “_bashira_” for euphony means a post or column) to which
all structural stability is concentrated? A construction well suited
to the aristocratic form of state only having no king post or queen
post; but have “_Daikoku-bashira_”! When aristocracy in connection with
feudal system was the form of government the family life of _Daimio_
was simply a smaller type of it and _Samurai_ and other wealthy
families were still smaller of types of government; thus the house
plan was made to conform with their traits. The fact that the form of
government of a state modifies the architecture of the dwelling house
is also exemplified by the house of England and France of the sixteenth
century. Indeed, most of our houses of today were chiefly modeled
after the prototype of former _Samurai_ houses. Now the spirits of
commonwealth and liberty pervade all through the country; _daishō_
(long and short swords borne by _Samurai_) were thrown away, _mage_
(hair tied up at the top of a head. The old custom of Japan) was cut
off, even the clothing was partly changed and yet we are faithfully
following a mode of living which is half obsolete. Japan is in the
state of transition from old to new from destruction to upheaval in
architecture and in every thing. Cannot we hope to create a new design
unless the old had been destroyed?

The houses as any other objects of utility should be improved by
keeping abreast with the advancement of science. The house as a thing
which has a money value and useful object to contain human beings,
is not different from the railroad train and the steam boat. While a
marked progress in these is being noticed from time to time what have
we done for the house? We have shown a certain improvement in aspect
by adopting European architectural style in house design, but a
very little alteration has been done in its plan. What improvement
have we accomplished toward its construction, materials, decoration,
and workmanship? Besides the use of glass in “_shōji_”, iron and zinc
plates in roof and gutter, what else have we used but ordinary building
materials which have been handed down from time immemorial? What is the
difference between our houses and those of our ancestors in aspect,
construction, materials, and workmanship?

The history of Japanese dwelling houses is a subject not well studied
by any architect or man of literature. Though much light has been
thrown on the history of Japanese religious architecture by Professor
Itō of the Imperial university of Tokyo, we can infer very little from
him as to how our dwelling houses were in the past. Religious buildings
and palaces form an important element in the history of architecture
in all nations, and Japan is no exception. But it is not the aim of
this theme to give a historical sketch of Japanese architecture from
its earliest time, the object being only to show here the stage of
development of our houses and thus I mean to infer that an important
change should take place in the future.

The history of Japan dates as far back as six hundred sixty years
before the Christian era. Before this date we call it the legendary
era. According to the decree of administrative court of _Shinki_
it says “in our legendary era the people were primitive, living in
caves in winter and nestling on trees in summer”, we can imagine from
this that in earliest time we were cave dwellers in winter and tree
nestlers in summer like natives of New Guinea of the present time. In
time of Jimmu the founder of the Japanese Empire (660 B.C.) the houses
developed in wooden type and henceforth wood became the only building
material. Early Japanese houses had no decoration whatever and it seems
to me that since 190 A.D. when Coreans brought some coloring pigments
as tribute to the government of Jingo-Kōgō the painting was applied for
the first time to the building, but it is certain that the color was
applied only to the palace not to the “_Yashiro_” (_Shintō_ temple) nor
to the dwelling houses. The dwelling houses. The dwelling houses were
much improved in the time of Shōmu, (767 A.D.) the zenith of religious
architecture. It was then that tiles were used for the first time as
the roof covering in common dwelling houses which before that time were
mostly covered by the bark of _hinoki_. (_Thuya Obtusa_, _Benth_) In
common houses tiles were not yet used so abundantly as in temple roofs;
they were used on the ridge only; the rest being covered by barks of
wood. The plastered wall was also introduced at this time. It may,
however, be remembered that that plaster consisted of lime and sand.
Perhaps having some mud in the mixture; no gypsum was in use as in
European plaster.

The ages between eighth and twelfth centuries, which includes a little
more than three hundred and eighty years, when the Fujiwara family
played an important role in the government formed a most prominent
epoch of art and literature in the history of Japan. The long, peaceful
reign generally ensues an effeminate tendency to the spirit of a
nation especially to the nobility who had every facility to possess
every thing at call. The result is the production of “_Azumaya_”
or “_Shinden-tsukuri_”. The plan of which is by no means a desirable
type of residence even for a nobility of today. But, to be sure, it
served the requirement of the day in which the higher class of people
indulged mostly in music and poetry, festival and pleasure. The plan of
the _Shinden_ type reminds me of the notable building the “_Hō-oh-dō_”
which was built at this time that is some eight hundred years ago in
Yamashiro and which still remains in this day in the same spot after
long defacing action of nature. It had the honor of being reproduced
in Jackson Park at Chicago in 1893 as a representation of Japanese

[Illustration: PL. 12



The plan of “_Shinden-tukuri_” consists of a main or middle building
flanked with two wings or detached rooms on the east and west connected
by porches. The size of the main building was generally 70 feet
square, sometimes as large as 120 feet square and even as small as 50
feet square according to circumstances. The interior of the building
consists of a main middle room surrounded by a wide corridor laid with
mats, reception room, store room etc. being arranged in this corridor
each room divided by curtains. The east and west wings were used as
living rooms, and perhaps the kitchen was in a detached house. It is
imagined from the arrangement of rooms that the house was not planned
merely for the purpose of pleasure. The ninth century of Christian
era which corresponds to Tun dynasty of China was a great era
for introducing art and literature from China through the hands of
Buddhist preachers who had been sent by the government to observe the
civilization of China; Kōbō-daishi and Saicho were most influential
persons among scholars and religionists of the time. They returned home
from their mission abroad well laden with the knowledge of art and
literature which had been scattered all through the empire. The palace
was planned on the largest scale ever carried on after the plan of a
Chinese palace. The “_Shinden-tsukuri_” is undoubtedly a modification
of the latter.

“_Shōji_” and “_Fusuma_” were not used in “_Shinden-tsukuri_”, and in
outside openings what is called “_Kōshi_” (the framed lattice window
hung vertically in a manner something like a vertical trap-door with
thick white paper stretched on one side) was used. It is divided
into two sashes the upper part of which is pushed outward, by means
of stays, for ventilation. The hanging arrangement, it seems to me,
was general in these times, for the means of partition was achieved
by hanging tapestry, reed mats etc. which were hung on lintels of
openings. Insufficient function of partitions, the negligence of
privacy of rooms were already manifested in these times in our houses;
no wonder that our houses of today are built with no regard to this
point. The “_Tatami_” (floor mats, literally meaning to fold) had not
taken the form of modern “_Tatami_”, it was so shaped that when not
in use it was put away folding in suitable size, and made of leather,
reeds, silk cloth etc.

From the early part of the fifteenth century, the latter part of
middle ages in Europe, the whole empire had fallen into a scene of
chaos; innumerable old edifices, public documents, private writings,
in a word, the whole art and literature were destroyed under the
merciless fire of war. Amid this confusion, we can trace the gradual
outgrowth of another type of art; the _Shinden_ type gave place to
_Shoin_ type or “_Shoin-tsukuri_”. _Shoin_ in modern idea means a room
for study; but on certain occasions it was used as a reception room.
The _Shoin_ type proves that the mere copying of Chinese palace like
“_Shinden_” no longer satisfactorily fulfilled the requirement of
the day. The “_Shoin-tsukuri_” is indeed a prototype of our modern
house. Our “_Zashiki_” (parlor) was surely modeled after it, for it
has “_Tokonoma_”, “_Tsuke-shoin_” (a recess for books) and “_Tana_”,
(“_Chigai-tana_” in the modern house) all of which are main feature
of our parlor. _Shinden_ being surrounded by corridor, a vast main
middle room is shut out from light, on the contrary the _Shoin_ has
light in abundance. It may not be amiss to add a few lines here in
regard to “_Tokonoma_”. What the “_Tokonoma_” is in Japanese parlor
the fireplace is in American parlor. The use of “_Chigai-tana_” in the
former house is like an alcove and shelf put together in the latter
house. The fireplace or mantel-piece in American house affords dignity
and cheerfulness to the room besides the proper use beautifying and
warming the room. “_Tokonoma_” and “_Chigai-tana_” in our houses may
give thoroughness of the room by breaking up the feeling of vastness
and bareness of the whole appearance, and the nature of decorative
treatment may impart the sense of reverence and dignity but no
feeling of cheerfulness is imparted. It is altogether too formal, too
traditional, and too conservative, and is more formal than is the
American fireplace.

[Illustration: PL. 13 shows “_Zashiki_”]

[Illustration: PL. 14 shows “_Tokonoma_” and “_Chigai-tana_”]

Without “_Tokonoma_” and “_Chigai-tana_” and a few hanging frames of
paintings or ideograms a Japanese parlor is one empty box surrounded
by “_Shoji_” and “_Fusuma_”; no furniture, no carving, no moulding
to give grace to the form, no ceiling cornice, no chandelier, these
places are being filled by using wood in the horizontal and vertical
pieces specially rare species as a post at “_Tokonoma_”, in all showing
beautiful natural grain without varnishing or painting. It only
displays the skill and manipulation of handling tools in joints and
in dressing the face of the pieces. In the interior the wall surfaces
are plastered with natural sand[B] glittering with minute particles of
mica and felspar. It gives a very good effect. If comfort is one of the
main objects, as I said, in the designing of a house, Japanese parlor
affords no comfort whatever either to the host or to the guest mentally
or physically. Too much conventional rule of procedure in the design
of the Japanese parlor unnecessitated the hands of architects and as a
consequence no scientific idea was evolved in the design. Here I should
not hesitate to state that the comfort was not an object to be observed
in the Japanese parlor, nay, not in the Japanese house. Comfort was not
much cared for; how can the science develop in such a country?

  [B] Sand is found everywhere along the sea coast of Japan in various
  colors according to places, some times it is colored.

We had been taught from our boyhood not to complain of cold or heat,
not to strive after attaining physical comfort, not to show any
meanness or sillyness in the traits of daily life, somewhat like
an old Spartan mode of training children connected with an oriental
religious feeling: the idea is quite oriental or rather Japanese.
This unwritten code of _Samurai_ had strictly been observed in former
times and educated conservative families are still adhering to it; and
I should say that this idea put our country much behind our brother
nations on earth in the advancement of science. The modern architects
of Japan are often compelled to struggle with this conception which is
quite military and not scientific. Simple, natural, tasteful, and clean
are words which will express the pervading feature of the Japanese
parlor. Should we follow or maintain this unscientific and consequently
uncomfortable method of treating our parlor in the future dwelling

The Japanese dark ages, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
left us a memento the architecture of “_Chashitsu_”, (tea-house
architecture) the oddest and most unique architecture the world has
ever known. Without an adequate knowledge of the treatment of this
architecture no one can reach a true kernel of Japanese domestic
architecture. “_Chashitsu_” is a little house in which a _Cha-no-yu_
(tea sipping ceremony) is to be held. The practice of _Cha-no-yu_ was
much encouraged by the Ashikaga and Toyotomi families, the supreme
lords or Shōgun of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This partly
as a policy, as I understand, to subdue the rough, rigorous, warlike
spirits of _Daimio_ and _Samurai_ at the time of a confused order of
society. Let me quote from Professor Nitobē’s “Bushido, the Soul of
Japan” a very interesting article concerning _Cha-no-yu_.

“As an example of how the simplest thing can be made into an art
and then become spiritual culture, I may take _Cha-no-yu_, the tea
ceremony. Tea-sipping as a fine art! Why should it not be? In the
children drawing pictures on the sand, or in the savage carving on a
rock, was the promise of a Raphael or a Michael Angelo. How much more
is the drinking of a beverage, which began with the transcendental
contemplation of a Hindoo anchorite, entitled to develop into a
handmaid of Religion and Morality? That calmness of mind, that
serenity of temper, that composure and quietness of demeanor which
are the first essential of _Cha-no-yu_, are without doubt the
first conditions of right thinking and right feeling. The scrupulous
cleanliness of the little room, shut off from sight and sound of the
madding crowd, is in itself conducive to direct one’s thoughts from
the world. The bare interior does not engross one’s attention like the
innumerable pictures and bric-a-brac of a Western parlor; the presence
of _Kakemono_ calls our attention more to grace of design than to
beauty of color. The utmost refinement of taste is the object aimed
at; whereas anything like display is banished with religious horror.
The very fact that it was invented by a contemplative recluse, in a
time when wars and rumors of wars were incessant, is well calculated
to show that this institution was more than a pastime. Before entering
the quiet precincts of the tea-room, the company assembling to partake
of the ceremony laid aside, together with their swords, the ferocity
of battle-field or the cares of government, there to find peace and

“_Cha-no-yu_ is more than a ceremony; it is a fine art; it is poetry,
with articulate gestures for rhythms: it is a _modus operandi_ of
soul discipline. Its greatest value lies in this last phase.--”

[Illustration: PL. 15


[Illustration: PL. 16


[Illustration: PL. 17




In “_Chashitsu_” any thing in the way of display is banished and the
utmost refinement of taste is the object aimed at. Every thing was so
simplified and rusticated that Mr. Eastlake would look with amazement.
There is nothing more simple than to use natural object just as it is;
the post at the “_Tokonoma_” is almost invariably a natural form of
wood the bark only being removed. The small rafters which are visible
from outside of “_Chashitsu_” are simply round sticks about an inch in
diameter placed every foot. Sometimes the post of “_Chashitsu_” are so
peculiarly finished that the marks of an adze may be noticeable. The
face of walls are of sand of beautiful natural tint of bluish green,
gray or reddish brown. The furniture and utensile of _Cha-no-yu_
are the simplest things imaginable. This spirit of simplicity and
rustication is well exemplified in the so called refined parlor of
a modern Japanese house. There is no doubt that _Shoin_ type and
_Chashitsu_ construction have given much influence to the modern
Japanese houses.

The Greece borrowed the motives of art from Egypt, Assyria, and
Phoenicia and composed them so splendidly that it seemed as if they
were quite original to the Greeks. Greeks are no doubt an artistic
people, they formed an artistic idea from an inartistic source,
giving grace of form to a disfigured object and perfect harmony to
an inharmonious color; and their architecture unconditionally stands
beyond criticism. Romans may perhaps have been more artistic and at
the same time more practical than Greeks, but we must acknowledge that
without Greeks Roman art could not have existed. Japan, no doubt,
acquired her artistic idea from China and Corea, but it is a question
whether she was a Greek or a Roman at the Far East. If quietude,
reserve, tranquility are the characteristics of Greek art we find them
likewise in our domestic architecture, the “_Chashitsu_” and still more
in the art of landscape gardening.

I gave _Chashitsu_ and _Cha-no-yu_ as an example of Japanese artistic
conception shown everywhere. Here I will give another example of
this kind which necessarily associates with them; that is the art of
landscape gardening. This also has its origin with certain Corean
who invented the art at the time of Suiko, the emperor of the sixth
century. But there is not any evidence that such an art had existed in
Corea, and it seems to me that the art of miniature landscape gardening
is an outcome of the scenic nature of the country. The abundance of
hills and waters, rocks and trees gave naturally the rise to the unique
scenery in inland as well as the sea coast. The tasteful imitation of
this scenery is an involving idea of this accessory art, and at the
later period of Tokugawa Shōgun it had taken a systematic form of an
art, and peculiarly connected with the _Chashitsu_ architecture, for it
has unique, odd, picturesque conception in common with both. Manifold
formulas, traditions, and classifications made it so difficult for
one to attempt the art that he cannot place even a single stepping
stone without knowing the name given, and the meaning accorded to it.
It is true that one cannot manage the garden so as to make it look
picturesque without knowing how to arrange appropriate objects in
appropriate places and the nomenclatures of them, for instance “the
moon shade stone”, “the three body stone”, “the twilight woods” etc.,
make it more interesting and poetical. The idea is quite oriental. A
well, a stone basin, a stone post lantern, a flat-top stone, all these
necessary elements of Japanese miniature landscape gardening have
poetical nomenclature referring to history, religion and tradition.
To the bystanders it may merely seem quite an odd, unsymmetrical,
picturesque and artful imitation of natural scenery, but profound
spiritual meaning which only educated Japanese can understand permeate
each of the elements of a garden. It is altogether too practical as
European landscape gardening is too scientific. Here I show just one
type of gardens which is said to correspond to the Roman type of
lettering (Plate 18); Roman, Gothic, Italic etc. are classification
of lettering, so Japanese classify the work of landscape gardening
according to the style of treatment in referring to the style of

[Illustration: PL: 18
Drawing of garden, reproduced as a blueprint.]

[Illustration: PL. 19
Photograph of house with garden.]

[Illustration: PL. 20
Photograph of a lake, with garden and castle in background.]

If the governing art of the twentieth century the “art nouveau” has
more or less connection to the fanciful products of Japanese art as
some American writer asserts, the amalgamation of accessory art like
landscape gardening of Japanese with that of European may succeed in
producing some thing which is acceptable to the whim and fantastic
thought of modern architects.

If the influence of social habits and manners is the most important
in the effects on domestic architecture as one of the writers of “Our
Homes” puts it, it will be interesting to compare our houses to those
of England whose social organization is more like ours than any other
nations in Europe. We have had four classes in society until just
immediately before the abolition of the feudal system in 1867 above
referred to. England had also four classes in society at the period
immediately following the Norman Conquest; they were nobles and small
landowners, the clergy, the townfolks, and the agricultural classes.
The English nobles correspond to our Daimio and small landowners
to _Samurai_, the townfolks to our artisans and merchants, and the
agricultural classes to our soil tillers. Our clergy not being
enumerated in the social classes they were considered as recluse.
English nobles’ castles like the Tower of London, Rochester, Dover
etc. are of the same nature as our castles of Nagoya, Kumamoto and
others which are scattered all over the country as the seats of
Daimio. Sub-feudatories’ houses in England were frequently constructed
of wood and in cases of danger they took refuge in their lords’
castles. Their houses rarely contained more than two or three rooms.
Our small _Samurai_ houses were probably not larger than those of
sub-feudatories, and unquestionably they were made of wood. But
fortunately, our smallest _Samurai_ houses were not so wretched as
English villeins’ houses which were “commonly rude hovels of mud and
thatch, in the one apartment of which the whole family slept. Some
times two apartments existed, one of which was allotted to the cow. The
floors were either of mud or roughly paved with pebbles”.

The development of English domestic architecture is of the same nature
as ours; this is particularly noticed by comparing the idea of “an
assize” of 1189 the first “Building Act” of England to our first
building ordinance of Shōmu dynasty in 768 A.D. The house in these
times in England being mostly built of wood had roofs of straw, reeds,
and similar materials, and frequent fires compelled the adoption of a
new mode of building. Therefrom, the stone houses covered with thick
tiles was one of the requisites of “an assize”. The Imperial decree
of 768 A.D. we can hardly call a building act, as it only consists of
a few lines concerning the regulation of building an imperial palace
and the houses of subjects; for instance “officers and laities who can
afford to build their own houses should use tiles to cover roofs, and
the walls are to be decorated with red and white earth”. Before this
period thatched roofs had mostly been used. It is evident that the fear
of a calamity of conflagration was the cause of the forthcoming of the
first building acts of both nations. In England the building act having
passed revision after revision, the domestic architecture was improved
slowly, but steadily keeping pace with other continental nations in
Europe. Improvements of domestic architecture partly owe their cause to
the command of materials to be used. In the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries, England was not much ahead of us in the use of building
materials. Before the assize of 1189 the outside of houses was covered
with reeds or rushes, but after the issue plaster was used both outside
and inside of the houses and tiles, wooden shingles, and lead were used
as roof coverings. Windows, before the thirteenth century, were mere
holes having frames on which oiled paper and canvas were stretched
until glass was used for the first time in this period.

English houses of the twelfth century were certainly no better than our
_Shinden_ type. Let me give an example of what condition the English
houses were in in the twelfth century. The following quotation well
explains it: “the floor was frequently of earth, and strewn with rushes
or straw. When it is considered that refuse from the table was, as a
matter of course, thrown on to the floor; that dogs, hawks and other
domestic animals lived in the hall, it will scarcely be wondered at
that the state of the floor became highly offensive. It is related as
an instance of the extreme refinement of Thomas Becket that he ordered
his floors to be covered with fresh straw in winter, and in summer
with fresh rushes, in order that such of his guests as could not find
room at the tables might not get their clothes soiled by sitting on a
dirty floor.” This may be an example of an extreme case. Every student
of architecture knows that the thirteenth century in England is a
zenith of Early English Gothic, why is it that the manor-house and the
great landowner’s residence did not come under the influence of art
then flourishing in the country? Perhaps they did to a certain extent,
but not until as late as the Tudor period. One should not imagine that
the splendid painted glass of Westminster Abbey was found everywhere
in England. It was a costly luxury in this period; for it was imported
from abroad and still more expensive because skilled workmen were rare.
It is said that in these days common dwelling houses had glass in the
upper part of windows and wooden shutters in the lower part.

It was during the time of Elizabeth’s reign, the sixteenth century,
that English houses assumed a character altogether different from that
of the middle ages. This is a result of commerce and navigation which
has ever since been making England so pre-eminent. “The long galleries,
the projecting oriels and bay windows, the broad terraces and stately
flights of stairs, mark a new departure in domestic architecture”. Once
the lavish use of glass called forth the protest of Lord Bacon, and the
use of carpets, except on extraordinary occasions, was considered a
mark of extreme luxury and foppishness. This was the state of things in
the sixteenth century in England.

At the same time that the beautiful fan-vaulting of Westminster Abbey
astonished the world with splendor and delicacy of detail, an order
was given by Henry III to make “a certain conduit through which the
refuse of the king’s kitchen at Westminster flows into the Thames;
which conduit the king ordered to be made on account of the stink of
the dirty water which was carried through his halls, which was wont to
affect the health of the people frequenting the same hall.” And in the
reign of the same sovereign the royal kitchens at Oxford were blown
down by a strong wind. If the house of the sovereign was in such a
condition in sanitation and construction, it may be inferred that the
houses of the lower classes were utterly miserable. I do not wonder
that the plagues, pestilences and leprosy of the middle ages checked
the increase of population in England. England of the present period,
when compared with that of seven hundred years ago, is like another
world: and what difference is there between the houses of the present
day and those of seven hundred years ago in our land?

When the four classes of society were firmly established in former
ages, the plans of the houses were much modified by the vocation,
though not much difference in architectural aspect. In the time when
domestic manufacturing was in general a predominant feature of trade,
and the co-operative system of business was in an undeveloped state,
a factory, a store, and a dwelling house were one and the same; a
store in front and a factory in the rear of a house was a general
feature of the house of a merchant and a mechanic. This kind of
house should of course not be treated under the heading of dwelling
house proper. We have such houses everywhere in the city at present
and cannot expect to exterminate them in the near future. But the
advancement of civilization may not allow such varied forms of houses
to exist; the rise of land value and increase of lease bring forth the
co-operative system of business or compel a man to work on a large
scale and thereby drives the good natured hamlet dwellers, gratifying
themselves with a beautiful world of their own, out of the field of
fierce struggle for existence. No one can afford to indulge in luxury
by dwelling at the centre of a city unless he is exceptionally wealthy
and has little regard for the quietness of home life. Wonderful
power of organs of communication shortens the distance, thereby
forming two distinct type of dwelling houses that is the city and
the suburban, the real classification of domestic architecture. The
flats, apartment or tenement houses which are classed among the city
houses are the outgrowth of an advancement of communication organs,
and the cottages of the suburbs are peaceful homes of strugglers for
life sustenance. Thus the circumstances do not permit the existence
of houses which consist of stores in front and factories in the rear.
The classification of houses according to the classes of society,
as formerly in vogue, has no meaning in this time of enlightenment.
The plan of a house necessarily becomes narrower in front in the city
dwelling as we often notice in houses at Kioto and Osaka. London and
New York and all other Western great cities lay examples before us,
but it is curious to note that Tokyo furnishes many examples which are
contrary to this fact. Domestic architecture develops in this direction
only not in any other way. I do not wonder at the subject much talked
of of late about the tax to be levied on gardens belonging to houses
within urban district. Fortunately the proposition was not carried
into effect; but the searching eyes of wise, inquisitive politicians
have already been turned to the virgin soil for resource, it is almost
certain that sooner or later they will succeed. The alteration of
Japanese houses has been necessitated from even a political stand
point. At any rate, as to the laying down of principles and the
printing out of methods of carrying out the alteration of the plan,
Japanese architects are fully responsible.

Dwelling houses are divided, according to an architectural treatment,
into two classes viz. city and suburban houses. The characteristics
of the two and the reasons why they should be so classified need no
explaining here; only a few illustrations of the two different types of
dwelling houses are sufficient to remind us of the truth.

I have pointed out six elements and a few principles which govern
the erection of dwelling houses. It is more convenient to treat
negatively than to attempt positively the discussion of domestic
architecture. In order to protect or fulfill the established principles
all hindrances from all sides should be overcome. What I cite in the
following has reference only to the Japanese and does not refer at
all to the foreigners. It is an appeal made only to the Japanese.
I consider prejudice one of the impediments in the way of progress
which we have to strive to remove. So long as we are adhering to it no
advancement can be expected and improvement of our houses is entirely
hopeless. There is in Japan a certain prejudice which amounts even to
superstition among weak minded people. They choose a place for water
closet according to a superstitious notion. They think that a water
closet is the most impure or unholy place, and that the reckless choice
of the place for it in a house causes misfortune to the family who
occupies the house. They select a place for the well, the entrance
etc. according to the same groundless superstition. And they say that
thus the national character should be retained through all ages.
“The roofs should always be covered with tiles otherwise be thatched
or shingled. The shape of roofs should be “_Chidori-hafu_” if not
“_Mukuri-hafu_” or “_Kara-hafu_”. A gate should be “_Kabuki-mon_” if
not “_Heijiu-mon_”. The wall should be plastered if not finished with
“_Sasarako-shitami_”. (thin, wide weatherboarding over which vertical
narrow strips are nailed) The posts are invariably square in section,
and the ceiling should necessarily be “_Go-tenjō_”. (panelled ceiling)
or “_Saobuchi-tenjō_.” (same as “_Sasarako-shitami_” only horizontal,
the strips being deeply chamfered) Such and such parts should be so
and so; this is the national style of architecture handed down from
our forefathers. If we change it at random, how can tell that we are
Japanese. This is a house just suited to the people of this peculiar
land; we cannot feel comfort or enjoy convenience but for this peculiar
house”. There is nothing more absurd than these peculiar ideas. I cited
in the introduction that the importance of freedom of design should
always be kept in mind and here will not speak further any more than
that the overthrowing of those prejudices which lie across the royal
road to civilization is always necessary.

[Illustration: PL. 21
Photograph of front of a house with chidori-hafu gable.]

[Illustration: PL. 22
Photograph of front of a house with chidori-hafu gables.]

[Illustration: PL. 23

[Illustration: PL. 24
Photograph of a house with karu-hafu gable.]

[Illustration: PL. 25

[Illustration: PL. 26
Plan of a house

[Illustration: PL. 27

[Illustration: PL. 28 A DWELLING HOUSE

[Illustration: PL. 29 SECTION OF A HOUSE]

I have dwelt so much on the reservedness and seclusion of Japanese
dwelling houses. Once again I take up this point and call the attention
of all Japanese. Works of art, no matter what they are, should express
the sentiment or impression of the artist. The work which has beauty
as its object should call forth the sentiment or impression of beauty
to the observer or hearer. If the aim and object of any work of art
cannot be recognized by others the work is nothing but failure. As
the work of domestic architecture is a part of architecture, which
has beauty as one of its objects, all possible efforts to beautify a
house are quite rational. One might say that our houses being far from
gaudiness do not aim to attract attention by showy colors like European
houses. Still if attractiveness is an important element to be observed
in domestic architecture, our way is one of the methods of treatment
which is sufficient to charm admirers. This might be true if a house
be built with the aim, among many other aims, to give pleasure to the
eye. Japanese houses are uniformly of the same pattern and it seem as
though they were not intended to beautify. Well, we might call them
beautiful, yet if one get used to one thing continually he will get
tired; variety is necessary to give pleasure to the eye.

I must add one more word in regard to the love of nature and
simplicity. “In fact, Art”, says Goethe, “is called Art simply because
it is not Nature”. A bird, a flower, we use them as materials to give
a sensation of pleasure to the eyes, there the fine arts exist. To
treat them with taste and refinement needs experience and an educated
eye. Japanese domestic architecture, in a word, is, I believe, good
in its spirit but leaves a large field to be cultivated in its
treatment. If the remark that “Art nouveau” has its source partly in
Japanese art is true, why may it not be true that the general adoption
of straight lines, which has lately been much preferred by certain
European architects in interior decoration, owes its origin to Japan?
We furnish a spirit and general idea of treatment to European artists
and they well digest them completing in perfect shape, and are kind
enough to teach us how to imitate; just as we furnish raw materials of
manufacture to Europe and she export them back to this country after
working them up into manufactured goods. Most of the imitations of
European houses in Japan which have been produced of late like shoots
of plants are mostly of the nature of hybrid works and fail in the
design; no truth being noticeable in their features; it is altogether
too expensive to do such a ginger-bread work with cement and plaster.

My object is not to suggest the imitation of palatial European
houses which are beyond every man’s reach: but to propose certain
plans, though they may be commonplace character, under the guidance
of principles involved in the house planning, which I presume to be
practicable in this time of transition: and also I would aim to bring
our houses more nearly up to the universal stand.

[Illustration: PL. 30


[Illustration: PL. 31


[Illustration: PL. 32


Our houses are peculiar in many respects when compared to the Western
houses as the result of difference in customs, yet there are many
things in common to both if names were changed. But the most singular
feature is a “_Dozō_” (a treasure house of a half fire-resistance
construction) whose necessity is never felt in any foreign house. In
all civilized countries valuable articles can be insured for the
fear of fire. The system is also provided in this country; then why
the necessity of a “_Dozo_”? The Japanese as a nation who observe the
reverence of ancestors to the utmost as stated before, the treasures
collected by ancestors are carefully kept by their posterity; these may
be cloths, objects of fine arts, household utensiles, gold and silver
ware, no matter what these are the owner would not give away for any
price if the family is in high standing in society. And moreover the
custom of avoiding to display these things necessitates a place in
which these valuables may be kept. The number of “_Dozo_” is the pride
of a family; thus the “_Dozo_” is the outcome of the custom of Japan.
The construction of it is shown in the plates. Wood and earth are the
chief materials for construction. The thickness of earth put on the
wall is nine or ten inches suspended by the lattice work of bamboo of
small diameter, say half an inch, tied together in place with the rope
made of fibres of the palm tree. The work is exceedingly tedious, for
one coat of earth is to be done after another had been dried. Lastly
the black or white coating of plaster which is made of mixture of lime
paste, (generally the mixture of lime and calcined oyster shells)
fibres of hemp, boiled sea weeds, and the pulp of Japanese paper is put
on as the finish. If one cannot content or feel safe without a “_Dozo_”
or big earthen safe I have no strong reason to object to the use of it.
But constant attention to the new materials which are making appearance
from time to time in the market is necessary though the new materials
and appliances cannot always be said to be exclusively good. And I
believe there may be a variety of designs to make it look better to
assume an aspect of monumental character.

There is no house in the world in which more mechanical energy has been
utilized in the house building than the American house. Considering a
house as a commodity there is no other way of producing it economically
than to use mechanic power. The Americans have broadest view, wisest
choice, and most practical ideas in this respect. They will understand
the subject and manage it with wonderful skill while we are discussing
on the definition of fine arts and commenting on the subject of
nationalism. Architects and house owners need to consider why, taking
our standard of living into consideration, our houses cost so much
more than those of America. What cost seventy five dollars a “_tsubo_”
(a “_tsubo_” is six feet square which is a unit of measuring the
buildings and grounds) in the United States will cost more than one
hundred and fifty yen (one yen is about fifty cents of U.S. money)
in this country. If its cause be attributed to the lack of mechanical
appliances to the production of the building materials, why cannot we
use machinery in order to get better houses at lower cost? We could
not do it at present; the reason is manifold and very complicated, but
in a word the labor saving machine is not labor saving, labor is still
cheaper than machinery. Why then do the things made by hands which
are cheaper than machinery cost more than the things made by machine?
This is a most important question to be solved by present Japanese
architects and is one after which they are striving. According to my
own view, the love of nature, admiration of simplicity and irregularity
which are so much a part of the national taste or character are the
greatest barriers to the way of progress of our domestic architecture,
if the mechanical appliances to house building is called a progress.
Most economical questions concerning houses depend on this and decide
the future development of our houses. And our endeavor as architects is
to so guide the people that they may not deviate from sound common
sense on dwelling houses.

[Illustration: PL. 33]

[Illustration: PL. 34]

Plates 33 and 34 are proposed plans for Japanese dwelling houses.

[Illustration: PL. 35]

[Illustration: PL. 36]

[Illustration: PL. 37]

Plates 33 and 34 are proposed plans for Japanese dwelling houses.

Plates 35, 36 and 37 are examples showing a method of treatment of
Japanese parlor.

Transcriber’s Note

The title page was fully typeset. This was followed by a typeset form
which was filled in by hand. On these two pages the typeset words are
all in uppercase, and the handwritten words are in lowercase.

As mentioned in the Transcriber’s Note at the start of this book, a
few minor changes have been made to punctuation. However the author
frequently omits punctuation after a closing bracket, and this has not
been changed.

The spelling of words that the author elsewhere spells conventionally
have been made consistent, “peculiar” and “peculiarly” have been
changed from “peculier” and “pecurially” throughout, and “t”s have been
crossed. Other changes that have been made are:

  Page  From          To            In
  ====  ====          ==            ==
   2    Glove         Globe         Globe trotters
   5    amateaur      amateur       amateur architect
  10    quater        quarter       the quarter where wealthy people
  15    it safe       it is safe    it is safe to regard the result
  19    carier        career        their future career
  28    Vicisitude    Vicissitude   Vicissitude of the mode of living
  29    occured       occurred      change in mental taste has occurred
  37    Guinia        Guinea        New Guinea
  41    influencial   influential   influential persons among scholars
  41    The           They          They returned home
  47    Daimio        _Daimio_      warlike spirits of _Daimio_
  51    dicipline     discipline    soul discipline
  51    the way       the way of    in the way of display
  54    unsymetrical  unsymmetrical odd, unsymmetrical, picturesque
  62    carpects      carpets       the use of carpets
  67    naild         nailed        strips are nailed
  75    palacial      palatial      palatial European houses

Transcriber’s Note - Plates

The scales on plates 23, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29 are no longer legible.

The labels and notes written on the plates are:

Plate: 1

    One fence is marked as 3 feet high.

Plate: 3

    Bamboo stick

    Roofed Fence

Plate: 4

    Fences are marked as 6, 9 and 8 feet high.

Plate: 5

    Roof board
    Wooden post
    Double swinging door

Plate: 6

    Top and base of the wooden post and ends of lintel are covered
    with copper plates.

    Large double-swinging door
    Wooden post
    Small swinging door

    Roofed Fence
      Wooden post

Plate: 7

    Lattice work one side of which is covered by white
    semi-transparent Japanese paper.

    Post 5 inches square
    Sill on which the groove is cut.
    Height 5 feet 9 inches.

    Horizontal Section

Plate: 8

    Construction is about same as “Shōji”.
    Design in Ramma is generally cut through with carving knife.
    Both of two surfaces of wooden lattice work are covered by
    thick papers which are composed of a number of thin sheets
    of paper. Cloth is often used. Elaborate designs are
    sometimes painted.
    “Ramma” wooden panel

    Horizontal Section

Plate: 9

    This illustrates conventional method of a plan drawn by
    Japanese Builder.
    Black square spots represent posts.
    Walls are represented by single lines.
    S. ... Shōji.
    F. ... Fusuma.
    Section lines are board floor.
    Old Man or Children’s Room
      Door sash pocket
      Sliding fusuma
      Door sash pocket
      Door sash pocket
    Servants’ Room
      Sliding door
    Master’s Room
    Living Room
      Window seat
      Tokonoma sill
      Door sash pocket
      B.T.(Bath tub)
      Swinging door
      Sliding door
      Door sash pocket
    Dining Room
      Sliding window
      Window pocket
      Window seat
      Projected window
    Small Portico
      Partition wall
    Reception Room
      Swinging door
      Glass window
      Glass window
      Projected window
      Double swinging door
    Scale 1/100 shaku to 1 shaku. 1 shaku = 0.994 feet.

Plate: 10

    Room for religious service
    Old Man’s Room
    Childrens Play Room
    Master’s Room
    Mistress’ Room
    Toilet Room
    Bath Room
    Dining Room
    Second Parlor
    Servants’ Dining Room
    Reception Room
    Preparation Room
    Reception Room
    Second Reception Room
    Door Attendant’s Room
    Servants’ Room
    Same scale as plate 9

Plate: 12

    Taken from old drawing
    East wing
    West wing
    Middle gate
    Fishing pavilion
    Fishing pavilion
    Miniature landscape

Plate: 30

    Elevation of Dozo
      Scale 1/50 shaku to the shaku.

      Scale 1/20 shaku to the shaku.


Plate: 31

    Section of Dozo
    Scale 1/20 shaku to the shaku.
    Earth and plaster

Plate: 33

    First Floor
      Preparation Room
      Dining Room
      Sitting Room

    Second Floor

    First Floor
      Sitting Room
      Preparation Room
      Dining Room

    Second Floor

Plate: 34

    First Floor
      Preparation Room
      Dining Room
      Sitting Room

    Second Floor
      Guest Chamber

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Future Development of Japanese Dwelling Houses" ***

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