Minka Gallery
14 Images

Replanting farmhouses

Minka Gallery
Several minka have been preserved in the mountain village of Shirakawa-go, shown here, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 and now a mecca for artists and visitors seeking a glimpse of the traditional rural lifestyle. (Gary Gill)
Minka Gallery
These rustic homes from farmland and fishing villages epitomize the unadorned beauty that is the essence of Japanese artistry and reflect an intimate bond with nature. Powerful posts and beams arch high overhead, supporting soaring roofs and spacious interiors that open up to the garden. Naturally curved beams are woven into the structure of this folk house, built in the late 1600s and preserved at Nihon Minka-en, an outdoor museum near Tokyo. The beams are locked together with carved joints unique to Japanese carpentry. (Gary Gill)
Minka Gallery
No visit to a Japanese farmhouse is complete without sharing a cup of tea. Grape farmers Shinako Oba, shown here, and husband Katsumi recently spent a hefty sum to re-thatch their beloved minka in a placid valley north of Tokyo. Katsumi’s 92-year-old mother objected, saying they should tear down the aged house and build something new. (Gary Gill)
Minka Gallery
Harrelson Stanley helps to dismantle his dream minka, a 6,000-square-foot farmhouse built in 1891, readying it for shipment to his hometown of Pepperell, Mass. Such ambitious projects are usually the province of the wealthy, but Stanley, a woodworker who has long admired traditional Japanese craftsmanship, is relying on “volunteers and sweat.” (Gary Gill)
Minka Gallery
In Soma, Japan, chief carpenter Yuzo Momma remained stoic even when he discovered that the farmhouse he was pulling apart to ship to the United States had been built by an ancestor of his. A plaque hidden inside the structure revealed the names of the original carpenters. Here, he wields a crowbar high on the open timber frame, with no hard hat or safety net to protect him. (Gary Gill)
Minka Gallery
The ingenious joinery of minka is displayed in this rough-hewn interlocking beam. (Gary Gill)
Minka Gallery
A row of tenon joints is exposed after a structural beam was carefully pried away during the dismantling of a huge farmhouse in Soma, 150 miles north of Tokyo. The interlocking members were held in place with wooden pegs, not metal nails. (Gary Gill)
Minka Gallery
A 200-year-old Japanese farmhouse takes on new life — and a new roof — after being relocated and re-created by pioneering architect Yoshihiro Takishita in Zushi, a coastal town south of Tokyo. (Gary Gill)
Minka Gallery
Architect Kunihiro Ando preserved a traditional Japanese hearth, or irori, in this minka that he renovated for arts editor Yoshitoki Irisawa in Tsukuba, Japan, 30 miles northeast of Tokyo. (Gary Gill)
Minka Gallery
Timbers stained by centuries of hearth smoke surround a stairway near the entrance of this reconstructed minka in Zushi. The use of natural materials and the emphasis on hand craftsmanship lead to an aesthetic that’s familiar to fans of Southern California’s Craftsman homes. (Gary Gill)
Minka Gallery
The trunk of a tree gracefully arcs over the dining area of this home relocated to the Tokyo suburb of Kichijoji. The use of such curved beams as structural elements is a trademark of traditional Japanese folk houses. (Gary Gill)
Minka Gallery
Opening directly into a bamboo garden, the living room of this transplanted mountain minka casts an image of country living despite its new location in the bustling Toyko suburb of Kichijoji. (Gary Gill)
Minka Gallery
Natural materials and antiques reflect the heritage of this centuries-old restored minka, transplanted to the coastal town of Zushi. Modern plumbing, lighting and heating offer the comforts of a new world. (Gary Gill)
Minka Gallery
Huge interior spaces, massive posts and beams, and all-natural materials are the hallmarks of minka. Dating to the 1700s, this structure so moved preservationist Yoshihiro Takishita that he transplanted it from his native Gifu prefecture and remade it as his own home in Kamakura. (Gary Gill)
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