A Guide to Kyoto’s Wooden and Traditional Architecture
Kumimono (組物), or the bracket arm system design on top of the pillars is one of the main design features of traditional wooden architecture in Japan, especially in temples and shrines. In addition to providing structural support for the oft enormous roof structure, they are an integral part of the building in balancing the overall building design.
Different types and design of kumimono have developed throughout the years as wooden architectural designs continue to evolve in Japan. There can be different numbers of brackets tiers within a system, with 3 being the most common, but some bracket arm systems have up to 6 tiers.
The bracket arm system in the Great Southern Gate of Todai-ji (東大寺南大門), which dates back to the 12th century, is one of the finest example of such. It is one of the handful of places in Japan where one can still see the original 6 tiered brackets that’s a feature of the Great Buddha Style (a development from the Japanese Style we mentioned earlier). It is also worth noting here that these brackets also have the distinction of being directly set in the post (and stabilized by lateral tie beams that run across the length of the structure), instead of sitting directly on top of the post, which are more common in other styles of Japanese wood buildings. In addition, the Great Southern Gate is also the largest gate structure in all of Japan. It will make a worthwhile visit the next time you’re in Kyoto or Nara.

Even though Suikoushya International Craft School is now up and running in France, our Kyoto workshop will still continue to operate and we want to welcome you when you’re in Kyoto!

Here in Kyoto you can explore the many different wooden architectural treasures of Japan!



The bracket arm system in the Great Southern Gate of Todai-ji (東大寺南大門)