19. THE IWASAWA HOUSE
An Important Cultural Property of Kanagawa Prefecture
Original location: Susugaya, Kiyokawa Village, Aikō County, Kanagawa Prefecture
Type of Building: Farmhouse (nanushi / village headman’s house)
Built: Late 17th Century
Form: Half-hipped roof of thatch
Length (parallel to the ridge): 14.5 m, Width: 7.3 m
This farmhouse was originally located in a mountain hamlet. The house was situated on the steep slopes of the Koayu River valley. During the Edo Period, the family lived mainly by making charcoal and also engaged in slash-and-burn shifting cultivation and forestry. They served for a time as village headmen.
This house is similar to the Itō House, which also comes from Kangagwa Prefecture. The floor plan of the Iwasawa House is simpler and the Daidokoro and Dē are not so open to the outside as those of the Itō House, but the roof of the house is of the typical half-hipped type. The way in which the front façade of the Dē (the formal guest reception room) is set back half a bay to form an open space beneath the geya zone, the provision of a side entrance to the Zashiki (the main living room of the house) from that space, the provision of an oshi ita (shallow alcove) in the Dē, and the provision of a direct point of access from the Dē to the Heya are features not otherwise encountered in the minka of Kanagawa Prefecture.
The structural features of the house can be clearly seen at the boundary between the Daidokoro (doma) and the Zashiki. The use of the jōya-geya (main frame & aisles) structural form is general in the minka of Kanagawa Prefecture, but most of them are so arranged that the number of main frame posts is reduced by one. In the Iwasawa House, the jōya is 3 bays in cross section, with 4 posts at the earth floor-raised floor interface, and a half bay geya flanking the jōya on either side. Thus this house retains a more primitive way of configuring a jōya and geya with a main-beam span of three bays (that is 18 Japanese feet or 5.4 m). This is an early feature. The magnificence of the great beams is another highlight of this house.
Compared with the Kiyomiya House and the Itō House, it is clear that this house has some more advanced, and hence, presumbably, later characteristics: the beams, for instance, are notably large timbers and there are a greater number of open or open-able bays (that is bays with sliding partitions rather than solid wall).
The Iwasawa House is noteworthy among the old houses of Kanagawa Prefecture, as it shows both primitive and developed features in its layout and construction.