3. THE SAJI HOUSE GATE
An Important Cultural Property of Kawasaki City
Original location: Shirakabe, Higashi Ward, Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture
Type of Building: Ancillary building to a samurai house
Built: Early 19th century
Form: Munakado (roofed gate), single storey with a roof of pantiles
Wall －Total length: 10.5 m with a roof of pantiles
Waiting room－Single storey with a half-hipped roof of pantiles
Length (parallel to ridge): 9.2 m
Width: 4.6 m
This building, the gate of a samurai or warrior-class residence (bukeyashiki), was originally located to the southeast of Nagoya Castle. Until the beginning of the Meiji Era (1868), the residence belonged to the Ishikawa family, whose stipend was 250 koku of rice per annum (1 koku = 180 litres). Thereafter it came into the ownership of the Saji family. The main building of the residence is conserved in Nagoya and only the gate was brought to Nihon Minkaen. The gate has been positioned so that the Misawa House beyond it can stand in for the missing main building of the residence.
This type of gate is referred to as a munamon or munakado. It has a gabled roof covered with pantiles (sangawara). The main posts at either end of the gate structure are set 3.6 m apart, with the opening for the pair of gate leaves located in the centre, flanked by panels of plastered wall with weather boarding up to waist height. At either end a small subsidiary roof protrudes to provide protection for hanging lanterns.
There are lengths of wall on both sides of the gate and at the rear of the Tomomachi. They are timber framed with plastered wattle and daub infill panels and weather boarding, rest upon sill beams, and are buttressed with raking struts on the inside. Pantiles are used to roof them.
As its name suggests, the Tomomachi (retainers’ waiting room) was a room for retainers to wait in while their samurai master paid a visit to the owner of this residence. Very few waiting areas were built as independent structures.
The plan of the building consists of an earth floored lobby, three-mat gatekeeper’s room and the boarded waiting room with an irori set into the floor. The outside of the building has a half-hipped pantiled roof and plastered walls of wattle and daub, their lower parts protected with weather boarding. The small latticed bay window in the gatekeeper’s room and the larger one in the waiting room provide external points of interest.
The side of the building facing the street has fine white plasterwork extending from the upper part of the wall to cover the underside of the eaves, in the manner of Japanese castle architecture. On the inside, by contrast, walls are left un-whitened, with the daub (nakanuri) exposed, and the timber frame and eaves members un-concealed. The use of weather boarding too is limited to the side facing the street. This way of building seems typical of warrior-class residences, reflecting the importance attached to maintaining appearances despite limited resources by using prestigious finishes only where they would be seen.