0. THE HARA HOUSE
An Important Cultural Property of Kawasaki City
Original location: Kosugi-Jinya, Nakahara Ward, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Type of building : Wealthy landowner’s residence
Built: April 16th, 1911 (date of the ridge-raising ceremony)
Form: 2 storey timber structure with half-hipped roof of
Ground floor pent roofs partly copper sheet
Ground Floor －Length (parallel to ridge): 17.6 m, Width:13.2 m
Upper Floor－Length (parallel to ridge): 10.9 m, Width:9.1 m
Includes annexe with bathroom & toilets
This house was the main building of a wealthy landowner’s residence once located in Kosugi-Jinya, Nakahara Ward, Kawasaki City.
Family tradition relates that the completion of the building took 22 years, and a remarkable degree of care was lavished on the construction of this house.
The main building is a large scale south-facing timber house of zelkova (keyaki), 2 storeys high, with a roof of pantiles and a total built area of 387 ㎡ (117 Japanese tsubo).
The large half-hipped roof of the upper floor is very impressive. On the front façade of the ground floor there is a shikidai or formal entrance porch for guests with a wide low step and a karahafu (cusped gable) roof, while parts of the pent roofs (hisashi) are also tiled, creating an exterior in which every element conveys a sense of grandeur and high status.
Internally, on the ground floor, the left-hand (west) end, viewed from the front, contains an earth-floored area (doma), with kitchen and service spaces behind, while the right hand (east) end contains a suite of raised floor living rooms, 2 rooms deep from front to back, and arranged in 3 rows from left to right.
The upper floor was intended for family living. The ground floor, with its high ceilings, substantial posts and many deep tenoned lintels (sashigamoi) conveys an impression of solidly-built magnificence By contrast, on the upper floor, ceiling height and room sizes are more moderate, creating a restful atmosphere appropriate to family living and sleeping rooms. The carpentry techniques are of the highest order in terms of precision and ingenuity. The massive roof appears to be firmly supported by a double eaves structure (with 2 tiers of rafters) set upon a dashigeta (cantilevered wall plate), but the deep eaves are actually supported from above by hanegi (substantial beams counterweighted at their upper ends) hidden in the roof-space. The apparently functional beam ends (dashibari) that seem to support the dashigeta are inserted for decorative effect but perform no serious structural function.
Likewise, the technique for inserting tenoned lintels into a post from all four orthogonal directions, and the complex detailing used to prevent the thick zelkova boards on the veranda floors from warping and cracking both illustrate the skilled workmanship hidden away out of sight, but necessary to achieve the flawless and apparently effortless simplicity that meets the eye.