16. THE KIYOMIYA HOUSE
An Important Cultural Property of Kanagawa Prefecture
Original location: Noborito,Tama Ward, Kawasaki
City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Type of building: Farmhouse
Built: Latter half of the 17th century
Form: Hipped roof of thatch
Length (parallel to ridge): 13.6 m
Width: 8.2 m
The original site of this house was Noborito, only one kilometre from Nihon Minkaen. Like the Itō House, this is a valuable example of a local minka from Kawasaki.
From the outside, the house appears rather small, simple and enclosed. But, when one considers that the average Edo Period farmer’s dwelling in the area corresponding to the modern Kanagawa Prefecture was 5 bays long by 3 across, the Kiyomiya House, at 7.5 bays long by 4 bays across, was certainly not small for an early minka. The lack of openings is one of the characteristics of old farmhouses. The existence of a partition at the boundary between earth floor and raised floor in the interior of the Kiyomiya House, and the way in which the ends of the joists supporting the raised floor are exposed are extremely old-fashioned features.
The building has a hipped roof of thatch. The use of a shibamune (grass ridge) – a ridge of earth planted with grass and flowers to prevent it from being washed away – conveys the rustic character of the old farmhouses of western Musashi.
The plan is centred upon the main living room (Hiroma), with a guest room (Dē) beyond it at the high end of the plan, and a pair of small enclosed rooms, believed to have been sleeping rooms, one at the rear of each of the major rooms. As this kind of plan arrangement is only found among very old farmhouses in Kanagawa Prefecture, it is considered probable that it predates the hiroma 3-room arrangement of the Kitamura and Itō Houses, and is not to be equated with the regular 4-room plan that later became so common. As no back door is provided for the earth-floored Dēdoko, it is supposed that a stream in front of the house was used as a sink and washing area.
The design of the beams is a highlight of the house. Those over the earth-floored area are particularly striking, with naturally curved and twisted timbers of considerable size skillfully interwoven. At the Kiyomiya House, in contrast to the Itō and Kitamura Houses, the beams over the earth-floored area are more finely designed than those over the living room.