Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Made without nails

I wrote recently about my trip to the Okinawan Yaeyama-shoto archipelago and the traditional kasuri fabric dyeing and weaving technique of Taketomi-jima island. A sea-sickeningly 45 minute boat ride from Taketomi-jima is Iriomote-jima, an island so remote that the main road travels only half its circumference: the lush interior and the other half of the island are wilderness that can only be reached on foot.  


On Iriomote-jima I stayed in a cabin which, on closer inspection, turned out to be made entirely without nails.


You can see how the lower ceiling beams and the large beam at the front of the loft slot through the columns - this intricate joinery is repeated throughout the smallest details of the cabin, using traditional techniques.

When I lived in Japan I visited Kyoto several times, and always loved the walk through a gauntlet of snack shops selling cinnamon flavoured yatsuhashi cookies up to Kiyomizudera, one of my favourite Kyoto temples. Kiyomizudera is also made without a single nail: the entire temple was constructed in 1633 using wood joinery.

This incredible craftsmanship is surrounded in autumn by a sea of colourful leaves, and (along with its outbuildings, pictured here,) snow-covered in the winter.

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