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Number 1 Shimbun

Exhibition: "Traditional Thatched Houses"



photographs by Kiyoshi Takai

The village of Ogimachi in Shirakawago, Gifu Prefecture, still retains 114 traditional gassho-zukuri-style buildings. In the spring of 1996, the Ōizumi family residence had the eastern side of its roof, a total area of 338 square meters, rethatched for the first time in 46 years. Three hundred people took part in the operation, mostly local people, but also including volunteers from throughout Japan. The first day was spent removing the old thatch. The second day saw the complete rethatching, which was achieved in approximately eight hours. This system of communal work, carried out without pay, is known as yui and it is traditional in Japanese villages to carry out major projects in this way. Sadly, thatched houses are gradually disappearing from the Japanese countryside, and once they are gone, no new ones will ever be built.

Kiyoshi Takai was active as a photographer throughout his career at the engineering/architectural corporation Taisei. After his retirement in 1988, he has been active as a freelance photographer and lecturer on photography. He has published several books.

01.jpgRethatching a Gassho-zukuri Roof – Ōizumi Family Residence


Published in: January 2015

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