Inazumitei Kominka Matsuri

I have spent the past two days in the most delightful setting I have yet encountered in Japan…a kominka.

A kominka is a very old, very traditional Japanese house. This particular house, Inazumitei, is 167 years old. Over the past few years it has undergone thorough structural research and restoration. Blue prints for every inch of the building have been drawn, and a to-scale model was made. I spent the day speaking with the carpenter who worked on a portion of the restoration and was absolutely amazed by the ingenuity inherent in the kominka’s design. I will provide a proper educational update later – but I need some more time to let everything I’ve learned sink in. I did, however, snap photos of every blue print for the structure (with the enthusiastic encouragement of the owner):

I initially intended to visit the kominka just to try yaki-imo (stone-roasted sweet potatoes) for the first time, but was pleasantly surprised upon my arrival to find a gathering of artisans. I spent most of my weekend there, sitting around the irori – a sort of hearth built into the ground which everyone sits around – eating, drinking, conversing…

The design of the kominka was perfect for hosting guests. All of the shoji and fusuma (sliding doors / wall partitions) were opened and one could see through all parts of the house from any room.

I met some of the most incredible people – artists, teachers, builders… They were so full of life and wanted to share it all. I am completely exhausted from the simple act of listening. One woman had brought a 100 year old kimono with her and let me try it on. I stood perfectly still while she and another woman wrapped the kimono and tied all of the necessary knots. It was more comfortable than one might think… The owners of the house even let me use a 100+ year old umbrella and pair of traditional Japanese summer sandals for a walk around the genkan (entrance/courtyard to the kominka).

The only downside to this lovely weekend was the realization that my $150 bicycle might not be meant to travel long distances regularly, as my headlight went out on my night ride home…

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