Barn Again: the Japanese Way

A growing number of architects and preservationists in Japan are trying to salvage Japanese “minka” farmhouses and bring them into the new millenium. “A lot of wisdom, good thinking and good materials went into making these homes,” says architect Yoshihiro Takishita, who disassembled a farmhouse in Japan’s Gifu prefecture, and rebuilt it on the hills of Sagami Bay in 1976. His abode is a spacious one, unlike the stereotypical tiny Japanese apartment: he has added outdoor hot tubs, a billiards room and a red spiral staircase. Now that’s not to say a renovation can’t cost millions, with land itself being especially expensive. A piece of dirt in Takashita’s ‘hood averages around $1,500 per square meet and a minka can take up 300 square meters.
The money part aside, these Japanese homesteads take their cues from the environment. The raw materials usually came from the surrounding area, and constructing one of these dwellings was like an old-fashioned Amish barn-raising. What’s more, these homes were built for the climate. A farm residence in a snowy area had a “praying hands’ shape to keep snow build-up at bay. So next time you take a trip to Japan, be sure to visit one of these masterpieces. We’re thinking architecture buff Brad Pitt would enjoy such a tour. Maybe Angelina would tag along. We’re not sure though.