Experiencing Traditional Japanese Architectural Techniques (2): "Sakan"

Experiencing Traditional Japanese Architectural Techniques (2): "Sakan"


What is "Sakan"? Traditional Japanese Architectural Techniques

At the Kigumi Museum, visitors can explore not only "Kigumi" but also other traditional Japanese architectural techniques. Most of these techniques are registered as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage under the category of "Traditional skills, techniques, and knowledge for the conservation and transmission of wooden architecture in Japan." Let's delve into the traditional Japanese architectural techniques exhibited at the Kigumi Museum.
Experiencing Traditional Japanese Architectural Techniques at Himeji Castle

Understanding "Sakan" (Japanese Plastering)

"Sakan" refers to the work of applying plaster or mortar to exterior walls or earthen walls using a trowel, as well as the artisans who perform this task. It requires highly skilled craftsmanship, and the proficiency of artisans greatly influences the finished product. The origins of Sakan can be traced back to the Jomon period, where people primarily lived in pit dwellings and stacked soil to create earthen walls, marking the beginning of Sakan. During the Azuchi-Momoyama period, Sakan craftsmen played a significant role in the construction of tea rooms, a field also developed by figures such as Sen no Rikyu in the realm of tea ceremony.
Traditional Japanese plastering techniques include "Kyo-kabe" (ancient-style Kyoto walls), which finish the surface with soil, and "Shikkui" walls, which are finished with plaster. Together, they are referred to as "Nihon-kabe" (Japanese Plastering).
Producing high-quality Japanese walls requires advanced skills from material selection to construction, as the strength and aesthetics of the finished walls significantly impact the quality of repair work on cultural heritage buildings. However, due to the considerable time and skill required for wet construction methods like Japanese wall production, dry construction methods have become mainstream in recent years. Additionally, even within wet construction methods, techniques such as finishing with synthetic resin-based materials on top of mortar substrates have become widespread, leading to a sharp decline in the number of skilled artisans capable of producing high-quality Japanese walls.
Experiencing Traditional Japanese Architectural Techniques at Kigumi Museum

Let's Watch The Internal Structure of Walls Made Using "Sakan" Techniques up Close

At the Kigumi Museum, visitors can observe the internal structure of walls made using "Sakan" techniques up close. Why not experience traditional Japanese architectural techniques firsthand by getting a closer look and even touching them? This wonderful experience is sure to become an unforgettable memory of your trip to Japan.
Experiencing Traditional Japanese Architectural Techniques at Tea Room

Explanation of Traditional Japanese Wooden Architecture Terms

"Kyo-kabe" refers to walls developed primarily in the Kinki region, including Kyoto and Osaka, rich in colored soil since ancient times. Various techniques have been developed, using region-specific colored soil and various methods of application, making it a key element that characterizes the appearance of buildings both inside and out. It is mainly used in study halls and tea rooms.

"Shikkui" walls are made by mixing calcium hydroxide as the main component with organic materials such as aggregate, hemp, and seaweed glue, then applied to walls. Known for their durability, with a lifespan of over 100 years, they are primarily used in castles and storehouses, as well as ordinary homes.

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