A Traditional Okinawan House


The traditional houses of Okinawa are quite distinct and are still easily found across the island chain. One of the most distinct features of an Okinawan house is their large tiled roof. The roof is said to be made heavy and low to keep the house protected in a typhoon. Other features are found in most types of traditional Japanese housing including; front decking, tatami floors and sliding doors.

This house was on Kourijima, an island connected by a bridge to the main island of Okinawa. About eighty years old, the house had not been changed too much apart from some concrete reinforcement in the corners and a deck at the back. The house was used as a guesthouse, where you paid really for floor space but the appeal for foreigners and modern Japanese alike was to experience a traditional house.

There is a nice flow of space within the house, a central storage core can be walked around uninterrupted. This simple design and the use of curtains to divide space (when needed) questions the importance we place on rooms within a house and illustrates how much rooms and doors can interrupt our movement within a space. Sliding doors also help the continuos movement, as they do not disturb the space like swing doors. Being used along most of the walls, the sliding doors also provide a nice connection to the outdoors. Of course, the highlight in these traditional houses is always the wood, where the same level of detail is not often seen in today’s houses.

A plan sketch. Not to scale and with a few errors but helps to understand the layout of the house.

Rear of house with a recent deck extension.

Looking down along the front of the house. Notice the beautiful wooden detailing.

The tatami floor in the front room.

The central storage core also contains a Buddhist shrine to ancestors.

Opposite side of the house to the kitchen.

Detail of the natural wooden columns at the front of the house.

Kitchen side of house.

Roof detail.

The house in its surroundings. The smaller roof houses the shed.

This entry was published on November 14, 2012 at 10:04 am and is filed under Architecture, Japan, Traditional Architecture, Travel. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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