Kominka Collective's Mission
We create opportunities for people outside of Japan to live, gather, and work in extraordinary traditional Japanese structures and in so doing ensure that these beautiful old houses and materials will be given a new life.
Who We Are
Director, Kominka Collective
Chairman, Toda Komuten
Director, Japan Kominka Association, Aichi Branch
Designer, Kominka Collective
Our Okumikawa area in Japan is blessed with both natural beauty and a long and interesting history. In this traditional setting, there are many old folk houses. We are very proud of the world-class craftsmanship with which these structures were designed and built, as evidenced by UNESCO listing Japanese traditional woodworking skills as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2020.
Nowadays, however, many of these extraordinary structures are being torn down and incinerated, This is an immeasurable loss, and it is our life's work to protect, preserve, and reconstruct Japanese folk houses for the sake of future generations.
The Kominka Collective was conceived as a way to share traditional Japanese folkhouses with people outside of Japan, not as museum pieces, but as places to live and work. Our first relocated timber frame structure, Mikawa House, is currently being rebuilt on Eric Carlson's ranch at the foot of the Wallowa Mountains in Oregon.
Mikawa House was originally a farmhouse in rural Okumikawa. After determining that the structure was sound, the house was carefully dismantled and transported to the Toda Komuten workshop. Each piece of wood from the eighty-year-old kominka was washed, and the house was preassembled in the workshop to check if any minor repairs would be needed. In addition to cleaning each piece of wood, we washed 400 ceramic roof tiles - a daunting task as old tiles were fixed to the roof with something akin to mud. Shoji screens were made taller by adding discreet wood panels to their bases and other furnishings and fixtures were cleaned and small repairs were made as needed..
We sent with Mikawa House a number of her treasures - silk worm pallets, ranma, a tokonoma alter, tansu, stone lanterns, and many more. It made us happy that this lovely old house was accompanied by so many wonderful items to begin a second life in rural Oregon.
This autumn, our first timber frame studio was assembled just down the road from Mikawa House on the beautiful property of the owners of Sei Mee Tea, Kiyomi Koike and Bill Oliver.
Carpenters, architects, structural engineers, and minka enthusiasts from Japan and Oregon gathered to assemble the studio and apply the interior and exterior plaster. As with Mikawa House, the studio was accompanied by various furnishings - ranma, scrolls, a lovely tansu chest, an elegant kura door, and more.
We have just completed work with Bill and Kiyomi designing another structure. In 2023, after the snow melts, a kura and entryway - both timber frames made of wood from a 100-year-old kominka and new materials - will be connected to the studio to create a charming small house in the most scenic of locations. This lovely house will be available for short stays and Zen Retreats.
You can imagine our excitement!
We will share news and photos of the kominka that will be making their homes in the beautiful far eastern corner of Oregon and beyond in our newsletter. (Subscribe below.)