I’ve been too busy to blog much about the minka in the mountains these past few weeks, making trips there almost every day to try and do my bit, helping the workers here and there but mostly working independently on little jobs. Since my last post most of the work has been concentrated on getting all the flooring done, but in recent days they’ve begun work on the walls and a few details like getting the mizuya drawers unstuck and planing and sanding the sliding doors and fusuma so that they’ll slide easily, too.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I’ll let these images do most of the talking this time out:

Reform W5 01
When the crew has the day off, I like to drive around the hinterlands beyond. Here, about five minutes north of Keihoku, I discovered this strange shop/art studio, that looked like it hadn’t been occupied in months. Nevertheless, some mighty curious stuff there (also next two images)

Reform W5 02Reform W5 03

Reform W5 06
Sometimes, while driving around the area, I just had to stop the car and take a picture or two. Here’s one.
Reform W5 07
…and another
Reform W5 08
The old minka is also quite close to Bujoji Temple, founded in 1154

Reform W5 09

Reform W510
August is hot, even in Hanase. Fortunately, one can cool off (at least up to the waist) in the river across the street
Reform W511
From this angle one can just make out my kura through the roadside shrubbery
Reform W517
Summer wildflowers
Reform W520
Dusk in Hanase
Reform W512
Back to work, I removed a truly awful space devoted to ages-old firewood, creating a much more convenient shortcut to the kitchen and bath
Reform W513
The crew, meanwhile, poured the cement foundation for the bathtub to come
Reform W514
…and more cement and cinder blocks under the north and westside walls, all of which will soon be replaced with insulated walling
Reform W515
In the two servant’s rooms, the crew are hard at work finishing the flooring
Reform W516
Next, the basic framework for the main room
Reform W519
The summer heat brought a relentless swarm of bees, hornets, and yellow jackets. This is one of many vain attempts on my part to keep them at bay. Found it on the Internet. Didn’t work at all!
Reform W521
These are sliding doors to a rear engawa (veranda). Since it didn’t really look out at anything, and since I’m concerned about landslides and snow building up against during the winter, an insulated wall will replace it.
Reform W522
In the main room a big box was built that will serve as the foundation for the wood-burning stove. All of us carried huge rocks to put inside it…
Reform W523
…then we poured pail after pail of cement to fill it
Reform W524
Elsewhere, little bowls of charcoal will help keep the area underneath the floor dry
Reform W525
Getting there!
Reform W526
Elsewhere, I decided to tidy up the doma, especially the okudosan (foreground)
Reform W527
The flooring completed (less its hardwood top), work begins on the walling where the engawa at the rear of the house once was
Reform W528
The crew also planed the mizuya (left) drawers, which had been stuck in place for who knows how long, probably at least 5-10 years
Reform W529
I also weeded and tidied up the front of the kura, which now looks more presentable to passersby
Reform W530
Also, at long last, the cheap, paper-like wood paneling, designed to keep heat in rather than look attractive, was finally removed above and below the great wood beams. In their place, eventually, will come white plasterwork
Reform W531
Beam detail
Reform W532
First step of the new wall is finished!
Reform W534
The crew have also begun stripping walling in other areas. Here, to the right, is a genkan wall that had for decades been covered with anachronistic ’80s paneling
Reform W535
Deliberately and carefully cut and removed from one wall of the servant’s room was this Meiji era calendar, dating back to the 1890s. It will be preserved and embedded somehow on the new, insulated wall in a nod to its history
Reform W536
…and from where it was cut
Reform W537
One can never get enough ceiling beams!

Reform W538

Reform W539
Neighbor Richard Hodge is moving from Iwakura to a much smaller home downtown, so he very generously offered many of his outdoor items to the minka in the mountains. I think they’ll enjoy their new home.

Reform W540Reform W541Reform W542Reform W545

Reform W543
The crew made an interesting discovery this week, that a couple of anachronistically modern sliding doors, separating the doma from the future dining room, could easily be replaced with more age-appropriate ones lying around gathering dust. They look terrible now but fixed up and with new shoji they’re going be great!

Reform W544

Reform W546
Not my minka, but a soba restaurant nearby that uses the same wooden stove-chimney system we’ll have. I had to take this shot as a reference to what ours will look like when it’s done
Reform W547
Finally, I learned today that my daily trips up and over the mountains have exacted a heavy toll on my tires. I could tell something wasn’t quite right and took my car to the dealership. From these images of the front tires, it looks like I came awfully close to a spectacular accident!

More to come!


Author: stuartgalbraithiv

Stuart Galbraith IV is a Kyoto-based film historian, writer, and publisher-editor of World Cinema Paradise. He is the author of seven books, including The Emperor and the Wolf (Faber & Faber, 2002), the joint-biography of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune hailed by Martin Scorsese as "a must read." Peter Biskind, in The New York Times Book Review, called it "a rare feast for lovers of Japanese cinema [and] a monumental job of research . . . infused throughout with an affection for its subjects that is contagious. Best of all, it does what all good film books should do: returns us, with an enriched appreciation, to the movies themselves." "One of the best industrial histories of Japanese cinema available in English," adds Catherine Russell of Cineaste. And Bill Kelley, in The Sarasota Herald Tribune, had this to say: "Not many film books deserve to have the adjective 'extraordinary' applied to them, but Stuart Galbraith's The Emperor and the Wolf is nothing less than that. In fact, it's more . . . this 823-page achievement wants to be all things to all admirers of its twin subjects, and, incredibly, it succeeds. Reference work, scrupulously thorough filmography, exhaustive biography - all are here . . . A graceful, economical writer, [Galbraith] is also a first-rate critic and film historian. [The Emperor and the Wolf] is a wonder of clarity and organization, and an enormous pleasure to read . . . [a] magnificent book." Galbraith's other books include Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo: The Incredible World of Japanese Fantasy Films (Feral House, 1998), The Japanese Filmography (McFarland & Co., 1996), Motor City Marquees (McFarland, 1994), and Japanese Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films (McFarland, 1994). In 2007, Galbraith's The Toho Studios Story, was published by Scarecrow, while his latest, Japanese Cinema, was published by Taschen in 2009. From 2004-2009, Galbraith wrote a monthly column for Japan's Daily Yomiuri on Region 2/Japanese DVDs. Within the home video field, Galbraith has written essays for Criterion's three-disc Seven Samurai DVD and Blu-ray, Optimum's Rashomon, BCI Eclipse's The Quiet Duel and Subkultur's The Long Good Friday. He provided audio commentaries for AnimEigo's Musashi Miyamoto - The Ultimate Samurai and Tora-san, editing the accompanying booklet for the latter. A commentary recorded (with Steve Ryfle) for Godzilla vs. Megalon but suppressed and aborted due to legal problems became an instant collector's item. In 2011, he co-produced Message from Earth, a short documentary on the making of Kinji Fukasaku's Message from Space. In 2015, Galbraith recorded an audio commentary and wrote and produced a new short documentary, Rashomon at 65, for the British Film Institute's Blu-ray of Kurosawa's 1950 classic. Concurrently, he served as an consultant on Oscar-winning director Steven Okazaki's documentary feature, Mifune - Last Samurai (2015). Also in 2015 Galbraith wrote an essay for Arrow Video's The Happiness of the Katakuris, shot interview material and provided an audio commentary for their Battles without Honor and Humanity boxed set. He was an associate producer for the DVDs of the classic poolroom drama The Hustler and Sidney Lumet's The Verdict. He provided audio commentary (with director Richard Fleischer) for the Special Edition DVD of Tora! Tora! Tora! (all for 20th Century-Fox), and interviewed Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond for his audio commentary track for The Sadist. Galbraith also contributed commentary tracks to The Horror of Hammer and Tales of Frankenstein, all for All Day Entertainment. Galbraith's audio commentary for Classic Media's Invasion of Astro-Monster was released in 2007 and nomiated for a Rondo Hatton Award. Holding a Master's Degree from the University of Southern California's prestigious School of Cinema-Television, Galbraith worked as an archivist and researcher at both Warner Bros. and M-G-M. At Warner Bros., Galbraith implemented preservation projects and procedures at both its USC-Warner Bros. Archives and the Warner Bros. Corporate Image Archives. At M-G-M, Galbraith worked as a "film detective," tracking down the original camera negatives to more than three dozen "lost" films. Born in 1965 in Detroit, Michigan, Galbraith was a film critic for the Ann Arbor News, a daily newspaper. In addition to writing film reviews and feature stories, Galbraith also wrote a weekly column, "Video View," which ran from 1990-1993. Between books, Galbraith wrote for such film magazines as Filmfax, Outre, and the French film magazine HK Orient Extreme Cinema. Since 2003 he has lived in Kyoto, Japan with his wife, Yukiyo, and their daughter, Sadie.

2 thoughts on “Progress”

  1. Hi Stuart,

    I love following the progress you’re making on the minka. It’s fantastic how much progress you’ve made so far.

    One niggly thing. In the last post, I think you meant “dust” when autocorrect turned it into “lying around gathering dusk.”.



  2. Hi Stuart,
    Thanks for the heads up. Your place is taking shape. Very nice and interesting progress. You are getting into finer details and it is really going somewhere.
    Nice catch with your tires!!
    Can’t wait for the next installment
    Best Banzaï!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s