HUT FOR STORING FIREWOOD
An Important Cultural Property of Kawasaki City
Original location: Ikuta, Tama Ward, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Type of building: Farm outbuilding
Built: Around 1924
Form: Gabled roof of cedar-bark
Pent roof/aisle on one side
Length (parallel to ridge): 3.6 m
Width: 2.7 m
The hut was located beside the barn of the Matsuzawa House, and was used to store firewood and dead leaves for compost. The hut is thought to have been built just after the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923, by the then head of the family, using wood cut from his own forest.
The structure of the hut is small and simple: 9 Japanese feet across by 12 long, it consists of a small gable-roofed main frame with a pent roof/aisle along one side. But the type of structure is noteworthy, as the posts are earth-fast and 2 posts at either end of the centerline of the main frame extend up to support the ridge directly. These two ridge-supporting posts (munamochi-bashira) are connected to the corner posts by beams spanning from the top of the latter and tenoned right through the former. In this construction system there is no distinction between the roof frame and the lower frame. There are similarities with the frame of the Hirose House. At the same time, although pad-stone foundations had been inserted when the lower part of the posts decayed, it was possible to establish by excavation that the posts had originally been set into the ground to a depth of about 33 cm.
Two posts are set between the corner posts at regular intervals on each of the long sides, and are connected with the corner posts by purlins resting on the transverse tenoned beams at either end. Rafters span between ridge and purlins. The three posts of the aisle are connected by a plate or eaves purlin from which aisle rafters span back to the main frame. When the hut was dismantled for relocation to the Minkaen, the roof was corrugated iron, but a cedar-bark roof was said to have been intended originally.
The hut has wooden walling on all sides, except where entrances are formed at the front of the aisle and on the right side of the front of the main frame. The construction of the wall is very simple; seppa, narrow split logs of cedar, are set vertically leaving openings between them. The posts, including those which support the ridge, are mostly of chestnut, but some cedar is also used. The purlins and rafters are of cedar. They are thought to date from around 1950, when the roof was repaired and one may guess that the posts were set on pad-stone foundations at the same time. When the hut was moved to Nihon Minkaen, it was restored according to the original design, with the posts set directly in the ground and cedar bark used for the roof.
Although the building is small and simple, its construction calls to mind archaic prototypes, and it provides useful information on the design of farm outbuildings in the Tama Hills area.