Room for Viewing Light and Shadows of Life

On a typical day in June, a gentle rain falls incessantly. Leaving the glass and shop doors open. Doctor Shoei Sasao of Hadano City in Kanagawa Prefecture sits quietly in a very special room and looks out at the landscaped garden and the fresh, vivid verdure of rain-washed green leaves and lichen-covered tree trunks. Moist wind blows through the room, and faint sunlight and subdued light coming through opaque Japanese paper screens seem to mingle. The beauty of this traditional tatami room can be understood from such a glimpse into a day in the life of Doctor Shoei Sasao who savors these contemplative hours to the full. He spends most of his free time in the room where he reads books and meditates in deep repose. After enjoying a splendid day, he sleeps here at night.

Doctor Shoei Sasao partly reconstructed his house ten years ago in order to customize this room for his personal use. His old acquaintance, Shuri Kakinuma, who studied under the famous architect, Seiichi Shirai, designed this traditional room. Japanese architecture is in general very simple, therefore sensitivity to detail is all important. For example, the shoji doors made of thin wooden strips arranged in various rectangular patterns, are pasted with paper on the outside so that the beautiful latticework can be seen from inside the room. The sizes and proportions of frames, doors, brackets, and hikite (door handles) have all been designed to balance the space in the room.

Traditional techniques of decoration are also of utmost importance in a Japanese-style room. In this room Kakinuma employed a special method for the ceiling which is covered with splints made of |apanese arborvitae. beautifully woven to form a striking pattern called ajiro. If the pattern had been made on a flat surface, the ceiling would have looked convex So the central part of the ceiling was raised by 20 millimeters to compensate for the visual distortion. The floorboards of the tokonomo alcove are of lacquer layered in a manner referred to as fuh urushi. in which the applied lacquer is wiped and dried before the next layer is applied, rendering the layers of lacquer translucent enough to allow the wood grain underneath to gradually show through.

Doctor Sasao's private garden is an integral part of this room, and an extension of the interior. While he often relaxes here in solitude, he occasionally invites his friends for conversation over some sake. In order to delight his guests as well as for his own pleasure, he arranges cut flowers from his garden in his favorite vase. This vase and the other items in the room were bought in antique shops or during his travels, and are aptly suited to his traditional room. Although he used to be very fond of going to Japanese inns he has lost interest in them now, for nowhere does he feel more comfortable than in this very special room of his own

Wood Architecture Out Side

Above: Glass and wood screen doors provide insulation from the outside world and can be adjusted to soften light and let the breeze in. When not used, these doors are designed to collapse into a niche in the wall. The deep eaves protect the interior from strong sunlight and rain when the screens are open.

Left: The calmness brought to the room by shoji doors and tatami mats is an important feature of this interior. A simple alcove with a raised floor, without the usual supporting toko-bashiro helps achieve this sense of unobstructed space. Sasao gives utmost care to the art of nurturing bonsai trees, like this tiny pine tree in the tokonoma.

Top: The fusuma door (at left) has a special curved top, traditionally used for doors leading to tearooms.

Above: Hanging scrolls are changed frequently depending on the season and the mood of the room. When not in use, scrolls are carefully rolled and put away in wooden boxes specially designed for preserving them.

Right: What appears to be a simple tatami room is in fact quite special, and has a wealth of beautiful details. A part of the ceiling is covered with Japanese arboivitae splints, beautifully woven to form an intricate pattern. The hanging calligraphy scroll with the Chinese character, yi'ng, for "firefly," is by the famous painter. Morikazu Kumagai. The wide fusuma doors hide a small kitchen behind them.

JAPAN STYLE

Kumagai Morikazu Art Museum HtmlSeiichi Shirai Architect InteriorsKumagai Morikazu Art Museum Html

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

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