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Designated as a registered tangible cultural property of Japan

A building designated as an important cultural asset of Japan

What is an important cultural asset (building)?

  As part of law for the protection of cultural properties (revised on October 1, 1998), Cultural Asset Registration System was adopted to allow the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to register important cultural assets and properties to the official ledger.
  This system was adopted in order to protect and preserve a number of culturally important properties that are facing the risk of extinction and to succeed them to our future generations. It requires applications and slight protection measures, such as direction and counseling, and was made partially to supplement the former system.
Taken from the Agency for Cultural Affairs Website
http://www.bunka.go.jp/seisaku/bunkazai/shokai/yukei_kenzobutsu/

Applying for registration of important cultural asset

  Our main wooden building has always been beloved by many tourists as a place of relaxation and Toji (hot spring cure). I was always astonished by how great the building is even when I was little. However, many hotels and inns in Japan adopted reinforced concrete buildings instead of wooden buildings as the Japanese economy prospered. Tohoku Shinkansen Line (stopped at Omiya station back at the time) opened when I was fifteen, and there were more groups of tourists. However, our hotel building hadn’t been changed even an inch, and we were getting less and less Toji visitors. When I was thinking about the future of our hotel, I thought of breaking down the main wooden building and building a new hotel.
  I moved to Tokyo and worked at a hotel to acquire business skills until 1999 when I came back to Ichijo. However, in 2003, my father, who was our nineteenth owner, passed away. It was a very sudden change of generations. I spent a lot of time thinking about what to do with the wooden main building, and made one part of it a private restaurant. In 2008, we made the entire main building a private restaurant.
  What I had thought to be unnecessary was changed into a private restaurant and also a a building of great value. It was after my father passed away, I slowly started to realize why my father didn’t make any changes to the building when the Japanese economy was prospering at a fast pace. I still feel ashamed of myself for seeing only what was in front of me. What did my ancestors think when they built this hotel? What did they think when they preserved this building? I decided to apply for a registration of an important cultural asset.

  In March, 2016, our wooden main building and storehouse were registered as an “important cultural asset of Japan”. It took us two years to get there.
  There is a reason why it took so much time. Our wooden building is one of the biggest wooden buildings in Miyagi prefecture. Therefore, we needed help from many people to perfect a plan. I would like to thank had Naoko Takahashi, CEO at Traditional Building Research Institute Co., Ltd., and Prof. Kazuo Nishi from Kanagawa University for their huge contribution to this project.

  Let me now introduce you the plan of our wooden building. A picture would be easier to see, but I chose to show you its plan because I want to show the beauty of a wooden building both vertically and horizontally that just can’t be described in a picture.

  It is our responsibility to preserve this building in an amazing condition and appeal it to our precious customers from all over the world.

  Unfortunately, the storehouse is not available for public visitors, but we have our private restaurant “Shouan” in our wooden main building and bath. We serve delicious “Cuisines of the woods” at our private restaurant. We are always looking forward to serving you with the traditional skills and beautiful architecture of Japan.

  May your important moments be unforgettable memories…

20th Owner Ippei Ichijo

Opinions on Yunushi Ichijo’s wooden main building

Wooden main building

  The wooden main building (length: width: )is a four-story wooden building with three stories above the ground and one story underground that is located closest to the entrance of Kamasaki Hot Spring village. Because it is built on a slope, the first underground floor consists only one third of the northern part of the building, the rest consists of various granites piling up to 2.5 meters.
  The eaves on each floor are all copper roofing. One housing, and rafters are placed so that they divide 3.6m of space in nine. All dimensions of the outer wall are wooden, and balustrades have been placed on the outer side. The upper part of the wall is partially white plaster, and the bottom part is wooden. They sprayed mortar-based ricin on all parts on which a fire could possibly spread from the next building in the 70’s.
  The plane figure suggests that there is a corridor on four outer surfaces, four eight-mat rooms and one six-mat room on the western part, four six-mat rooms and one 4.5-mat room on the eastern part. Each room is located with its back facing the display shelf. The stairs that lead to each floor is placed on the southern and northern part of the corridor. The first three stories above the ground level share the same plane figure. The corridors on the second floor up to the fourth floor have wooden floors, each room is equipped with tatami mats, the walls are painted with dark gray plaster whereas the rooms are painted with white plaster. The roofs in both the corridor and rooms are Saobuchi style roofs. The roofs in bedrooms are Fukiyose roofs. The underground floor is divided in two rooms inside, and they used to use the northern room as a barber shop, and the southern room for massage services. There is a six-mat room with an earth floor in the northern room facing the west corridor. There is another six-mat room behind the sliding doors, and behind the room is a storeroom. The southern room is also facing the west corridor and has an earth floor. Divided by the sliding doors, there is an eight-mat room to the north, and a four-mat room to the east. Through the wooden door is a storeroom. The floors are covered with tatami mats, the wall is painted with white plaster, and the roof is a Saobuchi style roof.
  The wooden main building was vastly damaged in 1938 by a heavy rain, and was renovated in 1940. The construction work was done by Mr. Tokichi Shioya, the father of Mr. Shokichi Shioya. All the wood materials used in the construction work were made with 100-year-old cedar trees grown in the backwoods of Ichijo. It took approximately two years and a half to finish lumbering and processing the woods. They gathered carpenters from Mr. Shioya and also Kesen Region. There are many carpenters in Mr. Shioya’s photo from 1941 when they completed the framework of the building and 1942 when they completed the entire construction process. There is a flag that says “Shiroishi Tobi Association” in the photo from 1941. On the backside of the photo from 1942, there are names of carpenters written. The plaster work was done by Okuyama Komuten in Shiroishi city.
  Until 1956, the stairs in the front were made of rocks, so all the construction materials were brought in by men. The number of men swelled up to three hundred during the framework making, and it apparently lasted for one week. It was hard to get nails and hardware back at the time due to strict regulations, thus, they used no hardware for joints and fittings on woods, and they made thirty three pillars out of sixty one balloon framing. They also used cement tiles for the rooftops.
  There has been no major modification aside from the application of copper roofing to the rooftop after the war and processing of the outer walls. Even when the Great East Japan Earthquake happened, there was no big damage done to the building except for a few wooden parts on the exterior of the building.
  As I’ve explained above, we believe the size of our wooden building, how we have always preserved it the way it is, and the outstanding exterior design of our wooden building all contribute to the portrayal of the historical background of our country and is very difficult to replicate.

Published on December 26, 2015

[Investigation / Observation] Naoko Takahashi, CEO at Traditional Building Research Institute Co., Ltd.
[Investigation / Counseling] Kazuo Nishi, Professor emeritus at Kanagawa University

Wooden main building

Observation of Yunushi Ichijo Ryokan / Yumukaito

Yumukaito

  Yumukaito is located on the southern part of the main building of Ichijo. It is a two-story wooden building built in Kirizuma style with copper roofing. Because it was built on a slope, the first floor of Yumukaito is connected to the second floor of the main building and the second floor is connected to the third floor of the main building through reinforced concrete rooms.
  Almost all of the northern and southern surfaces of the exterior consists of wooden fittings and there are balustrades inside the wooden fittings. The upper part of the wooden panel of the outer wall is painted with white plaster, and some parts of the outer wall has been sprayed with ricin and mortar. The foundation consists of granites that pile up four to five steps. The eaves are copper roofing, and the rafters are shown. The inside of the main rooftop consists of boards pasted on it.
  The plane figure suggests that there is a corridor on four outer surfaces, two eight-mat rooms and two six-mat room on the western part, two eight-mat rooms and two six-mat room on the eastern part. Each room is located with its back facing the display shelf. The stairs that connect the first and second floors are located on the southeastern end,. There used to be another set of stairs on the southwestern side, but it has been removed and only handrails were kept. Both the first and second floors share the same plane shape. The corridor have wooden floors, each room is equipped with tatami mats, wainscots on the wall of the corridor. the upper part of the wall is painted with white plaster. Each room is painted with white plater. The roofs in both the corridor and rooms are Saobuchi style roofs, and the roofs in bedrooms are Fukiyose roofs.
  The construction of Yumukaito was completed in 1934. The construction was done by Mr. Tokichi Shioya just like our wooden building.
   There has been no major modification aside from the reconstruction of the adjoining parts and roof, removal of the stairs, placement of a corridor, and reconstruction of the outer wall.
   Even at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, there was no huge damage done to the building. It is a strong building built on a set of solid rocks.
   As I’ve explained above, we believe the size of Yumukaito, how we have always preserved it the way it is, and the outstanding exterior design of our wooden building all contribute to the portrayal of the historical background of our country and is very difficult to replicate.

Published on December 26, 2015

[Investigation / Observation] Naoko Takahashi, CEO at Traditional Building Research Institute Co., Ltd.
[Investigation / Counseling] Kazuo Nishi, Professor emeritus at Kanagawa University

Yumukaito

Observation of Yunushi Ichijo’s Storehouse

Storehouse

  The storehouse is located on a slope at the southern part of Yunushi Ichijo just about 7m up above the stairs from the office building. The stairs are placed for cases of emergency, and they lead to an evacuation route that goes over the slope on the southern side of the storehouse. They broke down the wooden storehouse that was built next to the storehouse in order to build the stairs.
  It is a two-story storehouse with the length of 9.02m and the width of 4.47m built in Kirizuma style and copper roofing. The eave is located on the northern exist. The foundation is made with tuffs and a cornice is located as a drainage. Below is an outer wall board that lasts for 1.5m. The upper wall is painted with white plaster. The two-layered cornice has a design on its end panel. The fodder at the opening, the vertical frame of the entrance, and the black paster on the doors give you a dignified impression. There is a door located on the entrance, and it is a two-layered wooden door with a three-layered vertical lattice door. 14cm pillars have been placed every 45cm, and three other surface are placed every 90cm. The floors on both the first and second floors are wooden. The inner wall consists of boards pasted vertically in between each pillar. The wood materials used are ridgepoles (39cm×33cm), beams (49cm), and there are 210cm climbing beams every 180cm. The roof on the first floor is Neda style, and the roof on the second floor is Koyauraomote style. There is a circular pillar close to the central entrance on the first floor. There is a set of stairs with a shelf on the eastern side. In the middle of the second floor is a set of lattice for ventilation. There are thresholds on both sides inside of a window on each end panel. It allows you to use two types of construction materials for the inner sliding doors and wooden doors. There is a mud window located on the exterior.
  According to Mr. Shioya, the storehouse was built sometime in the Edo period. Although we do not know if there has been any renovation done on the roof, but it was done by Mr. Shioya himself. There is no record of renovation, but we see different patterns in the woods used in the pillars and walls, which suggest to us that there has possibly been some modification done to it. However, there has been no major renovation done to it, and it is preserved in a good condition.
  This storehouse wasn’t damaged that badly by the earthquake and proved its strong structure. This white-plastered storehouse located on the highest location out of all the other large wooden buildings in the Taisho and Showa periods definitely add something to the overall scenery of the area and is an excellent sign of the historical background of our country. We believe that the magnificent exterior design of this storehouse contributes to the portrayal of the historical background of Japan and is very difficult to replicate.

Published on December 26, 2015

[Investigation / Observation] Naoko Takahashi, CEO at Traditional Building Research Institute Co., Ltd.
[Investigation / Counseling] Kazuo Nishi, Professor emeritus at Kanagawa University

Storehouse