11. THE SAKUDA HOUSE
An Important Cultural Property of Japan
Original Location: Sakuda, Kujūkuri Town, Sambu County, Chiba Prefecture
Type of building: Fisherman’s house (amimoto/head-fisherman’s house), Buntō Style House
Built: Main building – late 17th century
Earth-floored building – late 18th century
Form: Main building – Hipped roof of thatch, single storey
Length (parallel to ridge): 13.0 m
Width: 11.1 m
Detached bathroom and toilet
Earth-floored building – Hipped roof of thatch, single storey, gable-entry
Length (parallel to ridge): 11.5 m
Roofed space between the buildings : 1.9 m wide
This was the house of the headman (amimoto) of a fishing community at Kujūkuri Beach on the Pacific coast of the Bōsō Peninsula, an area made prosperous by sardine fishing. However, it does not give the impression of being a fisherman’s house. This is because separate storehouses for fishing gear stood near the shore, and the fishermen gathered there when they were working (they used a seine net from the beach), but had their dwellings further inland.
Like the Ōta House, the Sakuda House is a Buntō Style dwelling, but whereas the earth-floored part is impressive in the case of the Ōta House, at the Sakuda House it is the main living structure that takes one’s breath away.
To begin with, look at the Kami from the Niwa. A space with a raised timber floor, equivalent in area to a 24-mat room (40㎡), it has no ceiling and, above the sinuously interlacing beams at the top of the lower frame, the entire roof space is discernable. In addition to the large sunken hearth confirming its use as a living room, it has a Buddhist altar and an oshi ita (shallow alcove), providing a formal background to the everyday life of the amimoto. To the rear of the Kami there are two rooms. Adjacent to the earth-floored area is the Chanoma, which has a sunken hearth and was a family living room. The Nando beyond it is accessible only from the Chanoma, and was an enclosed sleeping room.
Beyond the Kami, at the high end of the house, is a suite of three rooms floored with tatami – the Genkan (guest entrance), Nakanoma (middle room) and Oku (inner reception room) – arranged to provide as formal a reception space as one could wish for.
The bathroom and toilet ancillary to the reception zone were built in the mid 19th century, and like the tatami-floored rooms they are valuable in helping us to visualize the character of formal reception spaces in high class minka.