My Stairs?


Celebrating new found freedom, provided by a faster computer with more hard drive capacity, I am committed to posting a lot of photos this spring. “My Stairs?” marks the 5th day in a row of posts with photos.

Kawasaki House FrontSunday I was in Ise (伊勢) and wanted to get a peek at a house and some apartments we are considering for my upcoming relocation. Kawasaki House Entry HallWe arrived at the listing realtors’ only to find they close at lunchtime, so we also sought respite on a trendy street in Kawasaki (河崎). Most of the buildings lining this narrow street near the river are old minka (民家) or kura (蔵), which were converted to shops and restaurants. We have a special relationship with the owner of a coffee shop in a kuraKawasaki House Front Roomwhich is a story of its own – so when we were paying the bill, she interviewed us about our plans for the afternoon. Kawasaki House First FloorHearing about the house hunting and knowing my interest in traditional homes (民家), her attitude elevated tremendously; after asking permission, she contacted some friends about a house on this street.

Kawasaki House KitchenWithin minutes there was a man wanting to show us around the house. Kawasaki House ToiletsCurrently the place is abandoned and in need of tremendous repair and improvement, but they are only asking 5 million yen. The owners refuse to sell to someone, unless they plan to remodel and keep the traditional feeling. Any hint of a desire to tear down and rebuild would kill the deal for them.

All of these factors made it intriguing. Entering the home, I notice many features of great interest to me: tokonoma (床の間), traditional staircase, exterior halls, very traditional toilet room, Kawasaki House Stairsclosets to store fusuma (襖) or shoji (障子) when not in use, wooden grille over front windows. I had walked into my 130 year old book about homes.

Required repairs and remodeling were widespread. None of the doors nor windows would slide in their tracks. Closer inspection showed that many tracks were chewed up and worn to a point indicating replacement. Also, this concerns me because the house may be a little bent. Kawasaki House UpstairsThere is a service that will come check if a house is crooked. All of the walls were faded and worn. The absence of a bath might also present some challenges. Traditionally, one would walk to the public bath and a lot of homes didn’t bother installing one. Kawasaki House Tokonoma #1The floor plan really wouldn’t allow for one to be added, so really a room would have to be added off the back hall, leaving a yard the size of a postage stamp.

Kawasaki House Outer HallSome of the surrounding homes are completely run down and vacant, which didn’t give a good feeling, but I imagine they will get torn down and replaced in the not too distant future, because this area is so trendy. Lack of parking would necessitate renting a parking space somewhere as well. Kawasaki House Tokonoma #2Needless to say, this fixer upper is a tough sell. If there were a little parking and a bath – even one needing repairs – I think I would get sucked in by the chest of drawers cum staircase. Funny how something so simple can be so powerful. Anyhow, it doesn’t look likely that this will be my house anytime soon.


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2 Responses to “My Stairs?”

  1. Stefanie Says:

    Those stairs are really cool, but so much work needed! And no doubt the work would be time consuming and expensive. Too bad. I am sure you will eventually find something really good!

  2. びっくり Says:

    It looks like I might be moving to a 7th floor penthouse apartment very near to the stations and the Grand Shrines. It doesn’t have any Japanese style rooms with the tatami mat floors, but it is convenient and seems comfortable. For the next couple years that should be good while we figure out what kind of future to build.

    This type of staircase can actually be purchased at antique stores or cabinet makers. I’m sure they are quite expensive, but I might have to set aside for some eventually. I have even seen them in one story homes as a kind of decoration (and cabinet).

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