NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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丸毛家下屋敷 Marumouke-shimoyashiki The Marumou Family Lower Mansion

Jp En

The Marumou Family Lower Mansion is the symbol of Usuki, a former castle town. It was once the mansion of a high-ranking samurai who had defined its late-Edo period architectural style.

The Marumou family were samurai of the former Mino clan (in today's Gifu Prefecture), and were once in service to Mitsuhide Akechi. After Mitsuhide was defeated by Hideyoshi Toyotomi during the Battle of Yamazaki in the 10th year of the Tenshou era (1582), the family was homeless for many years.

The family made a comeback in the 5th year of the Kannei era (1628) during the Edo period. Because the first leader of the Usuki clan, Sadamichi Inaba, was related to the Marumou family, they were taken in by them. Soon after, the Marumou family came to reign as one of the highest-ranking samurai families in the Usuki clan.

One of the main characteristics of the Marumou Family Lower Mansion is that the house is completely divided by walls into several parts, including an 'omote' for guests, and an 'oku' for living quarters. Not only individual rooms but the entrance also is divided, for guests and family. One can see how seriously the samurai family took tradition and ceremonies.
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玄関 Genkan The Genkan

Jp En

The front entrance of any ordinary household, Zen temple, or public building is called the 'genkan'.

The term originated from one of the sayings of the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu, '玄の又玄なる衆の妙なる門', which led to its use in Japan during the Kamakura period as a Zen-Buddhist term. In Buddhism, entering a temple has the same meaning as entering Buddhist priesthood, and setting foot on the path for enlightenment, or 'gen'. Therefore any entrance to a building came to be called the 'genkan'. This was the origin of the use of the word 'genkan'.

Domestic architecture of the Heian period featured corridors, carriage porches and board doors. During this time, a low floor of wooden boards made for alighting palanquin passengers was called the 'genkan', while the area for receiving guests was called the 'shikidai'. In the early Edo period, these two spaces together came to be called the 'genkan'.

Town and village representatives were allowed to build a 'genkan' for receiving government officials, but commoners were not. By the Meiji period, though, all people of any status were free to build a genkan, but until the last world war, the formalities of the genkan deemed that only the master of the house or worthy-enough guests could use it, while family members used the inner genkan and servants used the backdoor.
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NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉 - 日本語に切り替える NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉 - to english

"Nippon-kichi" leads you to places, people and things that reveal a certain Japanese aesthetic.

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