Thursday, January 10, 2008
As I mentioned in my last post, Tamakikat and I walked around the Shijo area and took in a walking tour of some machiya(townhouses). These houses are long in shape and the building in the front usually housed a shop of some kind. The white slats above the roof just above the door are called mushikomado and were a type of window.
At the entrance, you would sometimes find this guy...Shouki-san. He is the guy to ward off evil spirits from coming into the house.
Here is a close-up. These good luck charms were usually made of the same tile material that the roof tiles were made.
Also in front of most of these machiya, you will see a red bucket filled with water. These buckets are mandatory, most machiya are in quite cramped areas, so fire trucks can't access them easily.
To get to the main house usually you needed to pass through a long "hallway" of sorts.
This is the reverse angle, there were rooms above the "hallway".
This is what we saw at the end of the "hallway" to this machiya...a couple of houses.
Most homes have a toriniwa or a garden area which you could pass through, you can see the sky from the garden.
The rooms are separated by fusuma, a sliding door that can be opened for entertaining or just to let the breeze go through during the summer.
We were able to walk through this kitchen. Notice the kamado, a wood burning stove which is used to cook on. The kama, iron pots with wooden lids on top were probably used to cook rice or other dishes.
And the big tile basin. To the very right was an old water well.
This machiya was the first one to put spikes up on top to prevent burglars from climbing up over their wall. The black fence on the bottom is called inuyarai and is supposed to keep people and dogs away from the walls.
Some machiya used their "hallways" for sitting areas, maybe to talk with customers who visited their shop or guests that you didn't want to invite inside your home.
We thought this one had a very fancy window covering.
These lanterns on top used to be run by gas but are now run by electricity. Not only did they light up the streets at night, but also were used as store signs.
Here is a close-up of the lantern.
Walking around these machiya was like stepping into another era. It also brought back memories of the movie "Sayuri" or "Memoirs of a Geisha".
There were many retro things like this milk box.
And this newspaper holder.
It was fun exploring these machiya, plus they are free! no admissions.
Thanks Tamakikat for a wonderful day!