Reclaiming Traditional Japanese Folk Houses

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The Reclaiming Process

When a kominka has been slated for demolition, Toda Komuten first evaluates the wood to assess if they can use the materials in new or existing structures. If they determine that the house is still viable, before dismantling the house, they number and document all the beams and posts so that they can be reassembled later at the site of their new home. The house is then carefully taken apart.

 

The next step is to take all the beams, posts, ceramic roof tiles, shoji screens, and other materials to the workshop where each piece is cleaned, polished, and repairs are made, if needed.

 

Master carpenters then pre-assemble the structure in the workshop and make any necessary modifications. As the house will have settled over the years, minor changes to length or height may be needed for some materials. This step is therefore important to ensure that the house fits structurally and that its reconstruction at its new location in another country is straightforward and problem-free.

The parts of the house are then packed into wooden crates and shipped to their destination.

The Reassembling Process

Reconstructed folk houses are reassembled using Japanese timber framing and all-wood joints. And, as all the materials are numbered and documented during the disassembly process, the assembly process is in a sense akin to putting together a very old wooden model.

However, although reconstructed kominka maintain the beautiful aesthetic Japanese folk houses are known for, they are built in strict accordance with local building codes and regulations.

Komika are, by design, open and well ventilated, causing them to be cold in the winter. Therefore, reconstructed folk houses are also designed and built to be warm and to have state-of-the-art energy efficiency.

In keeping with our mission to not waste any of the kominka's wood, some materials can be incorporated creatively into new and existing structures and landscapes. It is traditional, for example, for komika to have low ceilings, which means that the incredible beams and posts may have been out of view for a hundred years or more. In a reconstructed kominka with the beautiful beams exposed, wood from the ceiling may used in other ways, such as wainscoating. 

The Dismantling Process

The Reassembling Process

Completed Houses