Visited the oldest private house in Japan

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Blog entry by Junji posted 04-30-2009 02:53 PM 2531 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Yesterday, it was a holiday here in Japan, so we got out for a quick picnic with my family and nieces.
It was about 30 mins ride from my house, but it was quite INAKA (rural area), and there I found a place you can visit an old house. It is called “Hakogi-ke house” another name is Hakogi Thousand-year House, so the house is about 1000 years old.

From woodworking

Actually this house was moved to here from the original place when they built a dam around here, but it’s just amazing that a house lasts 1000 years. And this house is not only so old, but also really huge. The guy Hakogi must have been one of the richest man at that time.

This is how it is inside of the house (half of it), the other half where I was standnig called Doma, a floor of compacted earth.

Here you can see Doma.

And this is how you see the roof from inside.

and the mortise and tenon joint.

They said the wooden floor were really rare that time, because wooden board were expensive stuff then.

Here is a photo of the house and the kids.

you see the girl with blue bag is almost the same hight as the entrance? She is only 9 years old, so the hight of the roof bottom is like 5 feet, I needed to bend a lot to come in.

I just didn’t know that the oldest house was in Kobe, just so close.
The fact that this house lasted that long is surprisingly amazing. There are no electrical tools, and even metal was expensive. There are still a lot to learn or steal from the old carpenters wisdom.

-- Junji Sugita from Japan,

18 comments so far

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

716 posts in 3615 days

#1 posted 04-30-2009 03:16 PM


Thanks for sharing. I will probably never get to see that house in person but through your posting I was able to appreciate the craftsmanship. Are those your children in the picture?

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 3709 days

#2 posted 04-30-2009 03:21 PM

Very intresting and a real tribute to the artisans who built it. what is the outer roof ? sod?

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4397 days

#3 posted 04-30-2009 03:33 PM

A great view of your historical past. A beautiful home.

Thanks for providing this insight.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3818 days

#4 posted 04-30-2009 04:08 PM

This is a nice view into your cultural heritage, Junji. It is a remarkable testimony to the craftsmanship of those who originally built this home that is still standing after 50 generations.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3741 days

#5 posted 04-30-2009 04:28 PM

Another great post from our favorite tour guide. It’s amazing the number of years that these structures can stand the ravages of time. Living in the “New World” we think it’s something for a structure to be around for 200 or 300 years. We forget your part of the world was inhabited centuries before ours and the people were building the structures that our modern day ones are based upon. Thanks for the post.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4296 days

#6 posted 04-30-2009 04:38 PM

Thank you Junji,

Are the roof rafters Bamboo?

The town I live in, Hibbing, MN. was incorporated in 1893, & it has been moved once, because of iron ore mining.

The new location was started in 1920.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3645 days

#7 posted 04-30-2009 04:39 PM

thanks for the post – this is indeed pretty remarkable. if anyone is interested there are a couple of really good books that cover Japanese joinery and capentry (they mostly refer to home building, rafters, frames, and the likes) really interesting joinery that uses that natural forces of physics and the wood to create the strength and stability of the frames. its called “the complete guide to japanese joinery” (if my memory serves me right)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Junji's profile


698 posts in 3378 days

#8 posted 04-30-2009 04:54 PM

You never know if you ever have a chance to visit here! Yes, a boy in green shirt and a girl in Yellow jacket are my kids.

-- Junji Sugita from Japan,

View Junji's profile


698 posts in 3378 days

#9 posted 04-30-2009 04:57 PM

We call the roof “Kayabuki” meaning made of miscanthus. Check this site.

-- Junji Sugita from Japan,

View Junji's profile


698 posts in 3378 days

#10 posted 04-30-2009 05:05 PM

Dick, & Barb,
Yes, the roof rafters which kind of yellow ones are bamboos, I think.
I heard there one interesting story about the roof rafters. The bigger one, not the yellow one which I think bamboos, are standing upside down. And in old days, they said it was good that way. The announce tape in the house didn’t say why, but I thought it is interesting.

-- Junji Sugita from Japan,

View Junji's profile


698 posts in 3378 days

#11 posted 04-30-2009 05:09 PM

And everybody,
Thank you for the messages. I am glad that you enjoy my post.
I really I should use my digital camera, instead of my mobile phone to take these photos, but unfortunately, my camera was in the hands of my son…
Well, this is not the last chance to show you the history of Japanese culture! I am sure so much tos how you around, (or show off) especially in Kyoto, my home town.

-- Junji Sugita from Japan,

View Rustic's profile


3253 posts in 3592 days

#12 posted 04-30-2009 05:32 PM

I need to gt back to Japan. I was station in Okinawa back in the 80’s. I told the wife I wanted to take her there for a visit.

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3390 days

#13 posted 04-30-2009 06:36 PM

Better phone pictures than nothing!
Thanks for sharing a wonderful house, it’s so beautiful from every single viewpoint….

This is a Maloca, an ancestral long house used by the natives of the Amazon in Colombia…..very similar!

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4096 days

#14 posted 04-30-2009 07:12 PM

Junji, thanks for such an interesting post. I think this is one of the great things about LJ, the ability to see things from all over the world.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Junji's profile


698 posts in 3378 days

#15 posted 05-01-2009 01:03 AM

Yes, you should come back anytime you have a chance to do so. There are a lot to see, eat or meet here in Japan.

-- Junji Sugita from Japan,

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