Thursday, December 31, 2009

Japan Open Air Folk House Museum - Nihon Minka-en

While planning my recent Japan trip I came across the Nihon Minkaen or the Japan Open Air Folk House Museum. It's English website showed twenty-five historic Japanese folk houses which had been relocated from all over Japan to this Museum in Ikuta Ryokuchi Park located in the Tama hills in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture. It looked like an interesting day trip.

From the web site map of the buildings I thought the Museum was on flat ground so I was pleasantly surprised to find the houses were in a hilly area. The 19th century Suzuki house on the left was used as a hostel for horse traders traveling to auction in Fukushima Prefecture. The horses were kept on the ground floor and the traders stayed on the second floor.The house on the right is the Meji Period (1868-1912) Hara House which now is used for lectures and exhibitions.

An interior shot of the Hara House. All the visitors who were walking through the house while I was there stopped to pet the carved wooden too.

This house has an earthen floor and small windows so the inside is very dark and primitive feeling.

I had fun walking up these steps as I tried to just step on the rounded top of the logs.

The Gassho Zukuri (steep sloped roof) style house on the left is from a area that has heavy snowfalls . The sharp incline of the roof prevents the building from collapsing from the weight of the snow.

A closer view of a Gassho Zukuri style house.

There were fires in several houses. This fire was kept going by a gentleman who had worked in New York for several years so he invited me in and we talked for awhile.

A 17th century farmhouse from a mountainous region. It was a windy day and I enjoyed listening to the rustling of bamboo trees in the woods behind the house.

Looking down at 17th century farmhouse from Kawasaki City. Notice the grasses growing on the top of the roof.

A herringbone pattern on a rock wall. The landscaping was attractive throughout the museum.


YTSL said...

What a great looking museum! I went to something similar in Korea. Over there, there weren't just relocated structures but they also seemed "lived in" by craftspeople who could be found at work. Was that the case at the Nihon Minkaen too?

sbk said...

hi ytsl,

It was fun for me as I'd never been to an indoor and outdoor museum where the outdoors was so lovely too. Maybe three of the houses had fires going inside that were attended to by, I think, retired people. Craftspeople are there only three or four days a year on Japanese holidays. Inside many of the houses it was dark, open, mostly empty and not very interesting as the English descriptions were brief.