North gable of the Minka House in the Bamboo Garden
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Minka houses were the standard dwellings for most ordinary Japanese people until the mid twentieth century. Japanese friends have advised us that the word Minka means “folk” as in vernacular house. The Minka of Japan vary from region to region and from mountain to plain. The project was jointly organised by of RBG Kew and the Japan Minka Re-use and Recycle Association (JAMRA).
On the frame’s arrival at Kew, Peter McCurdy set about the task of sorting through the many timbers and analysing them. Work began on the repairs to the timber frame that were required prior to the erection of the building by the McCurdy team. When the site had been prepared the timbers were taken from a temporary workshop at Kew to the site in Kew’s Bamboo Garden and the erection process began. The McCurdy team was joined for eight days by a master carpenter and his assistant from Japan and worked jointly with them on the erection of the frame. The two professional Japanese carpenters were accompanied by a small band of JAMRA members who also assisted in the work. All of us who shared in the experience enjoyed it immensely and were reminded of the true understanding that exists between crafts people even without a common language.
Verge detail, showing pole rafters, bamboo battens and thatch
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