In the western world, a house is looked upon as a wall that separates people from the nature, in order to protect the people. Japanese, on the contrary, see a house as an extension of nature, a place to unify with the nature and live together with it. This philosophy is apparent in the architecture style, and window design is also affected. If a building is a place to unify with nature, a window is where the outside and inside unites and where the nature and people connects. With a window, the greenness of a garden and blooming flowers can be seen and the breeze can blow in the house. In the day, a house becomes bright when sun light shines in and at night, moonlight beams in. There is so much behind window design so that people inside a house can come to enjoy the nature and unify with it further. Marumado is a typical example that embodies this concept. The window, a circular shaped with some pattern, looks like the moon or the universe. Despite the artificial window design, it facilitates the appreciation of the nature. This is a beautiful example that embodies the concept of co-habitation with the nature.
Kunenan located in Kanzaki-machi, Saga Pref. is the villa and garden with an area of 68,000 square meters, which Yataro Itami, a very successful businessman in this prefecture, spent 9 years from 1892 in building. The villa has an Irimoya style (hip-and-gable) thatched roof, clay walls with sugi-koshibari (cedar boards to finish the lower part), renmado (windows with bamboo lattice), and nure-en (shallow veranda), which creates rustic atmosphere. The garden is known for its scenic beauty of the season. Azalea in spring and red leaves in autumn are outstanding but more exquisite is the mosses naturally growing all over. It looks as though a green velvet carpet is spread and creates the ambience of Wabi-sabi aesthetics. Kunenan is open to the public only for 9 days (November 15 to 23) when trees in the garden turn red. It was designated as a national asset in February 1995.
Kaimei School is a quasi-Western style building built in Seiyo City, Ehime Pref. in 1882. This “up-to-date” building has arch windows with German glass panes that were very rare in those days. However, the building itself was built in the traditional Japanese style, in which, for example, Kara-hafu (an undulating bargeboard) style was used for the entrance roof. The exterior of the school building looks like a small kura (warehouse) with the old fashioned shirakabe (white clay) walls. It was designated as National Important Cultural Properties in 1997. Today it is a museum where 6,000 precious documents are stored and displayed including school textbooks in the Edo period through the early Showa period and documents on school administration. You can experience the one-day class named “All Work and All Play at Meiji School.” Next to this building in the right stands Shingi-do, the previous institute of this school. It was a private school in the Meiji period and Siebold and his disciples including Keisaku Ninomiya got together there. Siebold’s daughter, Oine studied medicine under Ninomiya’s tutelage and became the first woman doctor in Japan.
Fushimi in Kyoto has a long history of brewing sake. Some say that the Hata tribe brought along the sake brewing technique from the continent during the Yamato period (4th−6th centuries); however others say Japanese sake originated in Fushimi. Fushimi had been a flourishing port town and the traffic and distribution center in this area. During the period ruled by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, it thrived as a castle town, where people gathered for consumption. Together with its geographical conditions, renowned water was flowing from the hills near the town, which led to the development of Fushimi sake brewing. Fushimi sake is called “onna-zake” (feminine sake) because it is sweet, gentle and delicate, while Nada’s dry sake is called “otoko-zake” (masculine sake). Now Fushimi is one of Japan’s largest sake brewing centers, taking 15% of the market share. There are 30 breweries and each of them brews its distinctive sake, taking pride in the artisan spirit.