NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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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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旧恵利家住宅 Kyuu-erike-jyuutaku Old Eri Family Residence

Jp En

The Old Eri Family Residence (Kyuu-Erike-Jyuutaku) is located in Ookawa-machi, Sanuki, Kagawa Prefecture, and is the oldest farmhouse residential building in all of Kagawa.
   It was built in the 17th century, and originally was found in Nina, Ookawa-machi. The Erike ancestors bore their surname from this land, and settled on the estate. Currently, the house has been relocated to the Miroku Natural Park.
   The layout of the house is known as 'sanma-madori' (three-room plan) and is harmonized by a style distinct to Eastern Kagawa. Its most distinguishing characteristics are the thatched roof, built using a technique called 'tsukudare', along with the simple decorations. The main beam of the house efficiently utilizes the bend of the tree, and is exposed at the ceiling. The ceiling of the house is formed by woven bamboos, covered with soil and clay. This kind of ceiling is called 'yamato tenjyo' ('yamato ceiling').
   An 8-jyo (8-tatami) Japanese-style room with a tokonoma (alcove) is laid out, along with a traditional porch that is flooded with warm, luminous sunlight. Seeing people bask in the sun on the porch somehow brings a feeling of nostalgia, giving the house a sentimental feel. It has been nominated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.
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