A minkáknak több fajtájuk létezik, függ a földrajzi és éghajlati viszonyoktól, valamint a lakók életmódjától. Legelterjedtebb a farmházi stílus. Olcsó és azonnal megszerezhető anyagokat használtak, a farmerek csak ezt engedhették meg maguknak. Majdnem kizárólag csak fából készítik, valamint bambuszból, agyagból és több különféle szalmából. A csontvázszerű szerkezete, a tető, a falak, és az oszlopok fából készülnek. A külső falakat gyakran bambusz és agyag összeadásával készítették. Szalmát használnak fedő zsúpra. Néha égetett agyag tetőcserepeket használtak zsúpon felül. Méreteit nem lehet behatárolni. A legkülönfélébb kialakítások jöttek létre a különböző földrajzi és éghajlati viszonyok, valamint a lakók életmódja alapján.
Visitors to the Nan bism yyill find many old villages some of them recorded in incient archives more than 1300 vears ago Many villages are enclosed by the moats which were built m the Middle Ages for the purpose of self-defence But visitors may be deluded as they walk in a tow n street, because they see onl) the red lattice windows and stuccoed mud walls lining both sides On the other side of the walls, a mam building with a white stuccoed gable is fronted by a well-kept farm court m the tvpical pattern of the closed couit type of rural habitation (Demangeon)
On the other hand, in the Chubu district houses in the villages are surrounded by wind-breaks, and the main houses and other dependent buildings stand around a court without walls. This is the open court t>'pe (Demangeon) that prevails in eastern districts.
Since 1923 the commoner's house (minka) has been recognized as an important element m both the rural and the urban landscape of'lapan (Kon). The settlement landscape reflects the historical background of countr)' life; for the minka, the situation is the same.
Even as late as the 1930s, most mmka were thatched with wild grasses, sometimes mixed with straw. At that time, reroofing was undertaken about ever)' 40 years. It was the villagers' task to mow the common land, the grass being kept in the garrets till the next autumn. Reroofing of the houses was done, one by one, under communal collaboration.
In the Chubu and Tohoku districts where silkworm breeding was important, people raised the worms in the garrets, to spin cocoons. For this reason, they introduced huge and steep gam-brel or gable roofs. To use the high space, two or three floors were made to receive large quantities of silkworms. Coarsely laid, the board floors cannot correctly be called storeys.
Under the roof are the rooms, whose arrangement (madon) is the stage for rural life. A rural house generally consists of two areas, the boarded floor (yuka) and the bare earthen floor (mwa). The former is about 80 cm (30 in) higher in level than the latter, and people take oft their footwear when they go up to the yuka part.
Before the Mciji era, which began in 1868, there was no front door into the house, except in the case of those owned by a few village officials. The common people customarily used the entrance to the earth-floored n\wa. They entered the drawing room (zashiki) directly over the veranda (engawa) for a wedding or a funeral; Buddhist priests would do the same. In the Nan-goku district, gender discrimination remained; men used the entrance to the main building, while the women used the annexed kitchen entrance.
Among the rooms of the boarded yuka part, a narrow, dark chamber for the family head was situated in the furthermost corner, enclosed by walls. Used also as the place of birth and death, its name diff^ers from region to region, but was most popularly called the 'closet' (nando).
A wide board-floored room (hiroma) comes before the nando, and is used as the centre of family life. Here, the people installed the square fire-pit (iron) fitted with a pothook, around which they made meals or chatted over tea. Before going to sleep, the housewife buried the remains of the fire in ashes, to be remade the next morning. The inner side of the square fire-pit was the scat reserved for the family head (yokoza), one side seat was for a guest, and its opposite was for the housewife.
Originally, the annual harvest festival was celebrated at each villager's house in turn. With the gradual improvement of the sociocultural organization, other religious assemblies, as well as ceremonies and funerals, began to take place in a specific room, the zashiki, cited above, which literally means the 'sitting space'. It might be said that, since the times just before the Edo era, at the beginning of the 17th centurv', when the land measuring system was established, the modulated tatami mat came into use as luxurious furniture, first appearing in the suburban regions.
The mwa space is particularly small m the case of fishermen's houses, often less than 2 sq m (20 sq ft) in area. In western districts the niiua area hardly exceeds 50 sq m (550 sq ft), but in eastern districts it reaches twice that size as it is often used as an indoor workshop or contains a huge stable, once utilized for horse breeding. It is noteworthy that in the rear corner of the niuia is situated the family cooking hearth, made of stone, clay and stucco. The local dialect names, such as kamado ('spot of furnace') or especially hettsui, signify' the family fire. There the housewife dedicated pure salt and green leaves every two weeks, but in particular on New Year's morning.
A definitive synthetic classification of minka types seems not to have been realized as yet. With the room plan (madon) as a criterion, specific types can be recognized, though some difficulties remain.
Among the types of madon inlapan, tanoji type is recognized as the most recent and representative. Its boarded yuka part is divided by a wall, sliding door or screen into four rooms: nando, sitting-room, wairing room and drawing room. Then comes the earthen niuia part, a rather narrow space, often containinga stable for the ploughing ox. The tanoji-type house has a well-balanced gambrel roof with various ornaments on it, and refined red lattice windows or white stuccoed walls. It is widespread in Kinki, Saigoku and some regions of the Chubu district.
There is a type of mmku wliicli has onlv three rooms in tlic yuka part, because either the waiting room of the tanoji type is missing or the rooms are not differentiated, and so one room occupies a wide space 1 his is the hiroma t)'pe which prevails in Chubu and Tohoku districts It should be noted that the hiroma tj'pe is also found on the northeast coast of Biwa lake, in Kinki district Furthermore, it surv'ived in the Chugoku mountains until the 1920s (fsurufuji) Many records and some examples of a ground-level sitting-room (doia zumai) aie suggestive of the hiroma type s evo-luDonal relation to former pit dwellings Meanwhile, in advanced regions, such as the economically active rice or silkworm cultivation areas m Chubu district because of technical necessm, or mental acculturation, the waiting room became divided ofŤ and the tanoji type evolved from the hiroma t\pe 1 hese sorts of development were notable, especially along the main highroads
The ethnographer Yanagita has pointed out the existence of another type of madon m the Ryukuyu arc as well as on the southwest coast of Chubu district This third type is now termed by ethnographers and geographers thejlitamune type In Ryukuyu, this is particularlv characterized b\ the coexistence of the yuka and mwa parts, which stand on the same level, on either side of a 5 m (16 ft) space
Finally there remains a unique madon found in the elementar) type of minka (Demangeon), one of which stands in the islet of Hachijo in the far south of Tokyo Bay, and another on the hillsides of Mt Isurugi, Shikoku in Saigoku district As for the house plan, the mam house consists of the boarded yuka part only, and completely lacks the mwa However, this does not mean that there is no cooking hearth, it exists still in a rear corner of the compound, but in the open air and without a roof.
It is most popularh atcepted that the origin of lapanese vernacular houses lay in the amalgamation of northern and southern cultures Ihe former is characterized bv the pit dwelling, the latter by habitations on pilotis I his duahstic hypothesis is compelling, but at present the archaeological facts are not sufficientK persuasive, the problem remains unresolved
In conclusion, based on the type of madon of different minka the following vernacular cultural divisions can be proposed the territory of the tanoji type - Kinki and Saigoku, that of the hiroma tvpe-Chubu and lohoku, and thatof thejutamune type with Its many scattered subtypes - Nangoku district.
218-B Structure System
The structure of minka defies regional classification because various primary framing t\pes are used throughout Japan. A single structure may even employ two types, but some frameworks are also identified with particular regions The primary framework supports the enormous roof and defines the original undifferentiated space Eight such frameworks have been identified (Itoh, Plêsums), of which seven are used in minka trabeated, post wall, centre post, crossbeams, double crossbeams, box and space frame
The oldest and most wideK used, the trabeated framework consists of parallel portals with girders on top of the beams In a post wall framework posts are placed between base and top plates with beams between I his method is used in tightly packed urban houses (machiya) A centre post framework has four curved and sloping beams spanning bct\scen posts and the central support; in this and the two other square frameworks secondary posts are placed at the corners Where crossbeams are |oined in the middle, the beams are supported b\ four posts on the edge of a square plan, this framework IS used in small column-free houses and over earthen floor areas of larger minka In the case of double crossbeams, the joined beams are carried by two posts on each side of the square which defines a central sunken hearth The four corner-posts of a box framework are connected by mortised beams, braces, lintels and floor beams resulting in a rigid framework, the square, which is more than 5 m (16 ft), is used either over the earthen-floor area or in the house proper. In a space frame the posts connected by beams, lintels and floor beams result in a rigid aggregation of cellular volumes, posts may be removed if necessary and substituted with longer beams
Ihe most central of the primary posts (daikoku-bashira) is considered sacred - an embodiment of the god of harvest Removal of the primary posts has dire consequences A secondary set of posts facilitates the building of functional accommodations within the space
The hierarchical structure system permitted adaptations and transformations over time - the most significant feature of minka 1 he enormous roofs are the unifying features of internal
changes and subsequent additions. Tiic cellular spaces defined by the secondary set of posts have wood ceilings and walls, and their arrangement within the primary structure system can change in response to the demands of life. This quality of adaptation to changing use is responsible for keeping minka current until the middle of the 20th century.
The 'oldest is best' belief of many preservationists does not recognize the very nature of minkn; it is a dwelling generated by a process in which the unpredictable necessities of life give form to the structure. 'Completion' of the general and undefined space through modification is characteristic of minka and forms an interesting record of lives, times, tastes and skills in building (Plěsums).
Four types of roof structure are used to transmit the roof loads to the primary framework. The wagoifa consists of short vertical posts with horizontal ties that transfer the loads from purlins to crossbeams. It is incorrecdy referred to as the 'Japanese truss', but truss construction was unknown to the Japanese. The wagoija is used to support the low-pitched tile roofs. The equally shallow-pitched yojiro-ijumi roof structure uses raised beams and a central post to hold up a set of short parallel posts. The steep thatched or
cedar bark roofs are supported by a large A-frame roof structure (sasu). 'I'he ridge-pole is laced to the long A-frame poles which rest in pockets on top of crossbeams. The rafters and puriins are similariy laced together. The odacfii type of roof structure, most common in the Kinki district, employs a set of posts placed on top of the crossbeams to support the ridge-pole, and intermediate purlins and braces to reduce the spans of the A-frame members.