Old House of Bamboo and Mud
Seen Better Times -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/60 sec, f/4, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Seen Better Times

I noticed a tiny old house being demolished nearby the other day, and stopped in for a look. It could be anywhere from 40 to 100+ years old... the guys tearing it down didn't know, but it was built at a time when Japanese homes were still built with mud and bamboo for the walls.

There are still plenty of this kind of construction in Kyoto. Often, the outside of such walls are veneered in wood, as seen in my Randomly Photographed Stroll in Kyoto and Old Wood-Veneer Siding (Desktop Background) posts.

Half-Exposed Bamboo Lattice -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/45 sec, f/1.4, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Half-Exposed Bamboo Lattice

The shot above shows rough-hewn beams that were used for most of the major structural work, which were above the ceiling line before the demo crew took the ceiling out. The bamboo lattice is in the center of the wall, with the dried mud that had been on the inside having been removed with the ceiling.

The internal walls were also mud and bamboo...

Internal Wall:More Mud and Bamboo -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/60 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Internal Wall:More Mud and Bamboo
Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 55mm — 1/60 sec, f/2.8, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos

The total land area of the property was very small – perhaps enough to park four cars on comfortably – yet even with such a lack of space, a fair portion was still dedicated to a small garden. I think that says an enormous amount about how important nature is in Japanese culture. In the garden was this fairly large stone lantern, which stood about to my waist...

Lantern in the Garden -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/160 sec, f/4, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Lantern in the Garden
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The pieces are not sitting square in the picture above because I took it after having moved them to gauge their weight. I got permission from the demo foreman to take the thing home, but when I came back the next day to get it, I found that the bottom piece – which I thought would be just at the limit of what I could move by myself – was actually extended well into the ground, with less than half sticking out. It was way too heavy for me to move, so sadly, I abandoned it.

Weathered Old Friend -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, f/3.2, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Weathered Old Friend

The demo crew said that they'd probably just throw the thing away. It was quite weathered, which made it all the more charming, as far as I was concerned. While I was there, someone I took to be a real-estate agent stopped by, and chatted with the demo crew about the lantern's possible value. It seems that if it was made in Korea, it was old and had no value, but if it had been made in Japan, it was an antique and was worth a lot. No one knew which it was, but considering the low value of the house, one can guess it probably wasn't worth much.

Still, I liked it.

All The Modern Amenities -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 — 1/45 sec, f/2, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
All The Modern Amenities

I'm no expert on Japanese architectural anthropology, but it seemed clear that the house was built before electricity was available, as it seems to have been wired after the fact.

The hole hacked in the concrete below to make way for a light switch attests to something.

At Your Fingertips -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 17mm — 1/15 sec, f/2.8, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos
At Your Fingertips

It was very dark where I took the picture above. The photo was taken with a long 1/15th of a second exposure, at f/2.8, at ISO 3200. My D200 is not a D300, so an ISO 3200 shot looks, well, like an ISO 3200 shot. What can I say... it was dark, and I didn't have a tripod.

Sad -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 17mm — 1/45 sec, f/2.8, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos
Sad

Driving by again the other day, the lot was cleared and level dirt, and was incredibly, shockingly small. I couldn't imagine that someone could build a house on it, much less one with a fairly sizable (relatively speaking) garden, so there's something to be said for the skill of the designer to make a microscopic three-room house feel merely “really really small”.


All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

Fascinating series of photographs.

I have, and often enjoy browsing in ‘Japanese Homes and their Surroundings’, by Edward S Morse (Dover 1961 facsimile of 1886 book). It is well-illustrated, but these photographs bring the subject to life, as well as conveying the pathos of an abandoned home. Just a shame you couldn’t manage to rescue that lantern, or the nanten next to it!

— comment by Peter on December 22nd, 2007 at 7:31pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

Cool series. For some reason, the old bell in the first photo brought immediately to my mind the bell Mom had by the porch side door to call us in when we were playing in the fields. It’s a different shape & style altogether – but maybe it reminds me because it looks like it’s been there since even before WE were little kids.

— comment by Marcina on December 23rd, 2007 at 1:03am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink
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