Suikoushya Kyoto offers extracurricular activities for any woodworking fans who would like to visit and learn about what the city has to offer when it comes to traditional Japanese wooden architecture. They include temples, shrines, tea houses and traditional town houses such as machiya.
We would like to show you the building from a woodworking and architecture perspective!

For more information, please feel free to contact me.

You can also read about the experience of some of our past participants on this page here.



Here are some of our past visits to the different places in Kyoto:

While visiting a Suki-ya style Tea House



In this tea house, you can see two different roof type with two different material, identifying where front side and the back side of the building is.

The roof of the front side of the building is made of thatch, and this is the part of the tea house where tea is served to and enjoyed by the guest. At the back, the roof is made of wooden shingles. It is the area where the host make and prepare the tea for his or her guests.




One can often feel a sense of solitude in such space. But with everything being made of natural materials (earth, wood, bamboo, and grass) and expressed in such ways, one can feel the balance and harmony within this space. 



While visiting a Buddhist Temples


Japanese summers are often very hot and very humid. To combat this extreme humidity, you will see some buildings constructed with a raised floor like this. If you look closer, you will notice the many details that go into the structure.




You can see the L shaped nails that keeps the elements together.


When you can get down and look under the floor, you can see how the different wooden elements come together and how it all works.




While Visiting a Machiya




A Machiya is a traditional Japanese town house where people work and live in the same place. There is a large number of Machiya remaining in Kyoto, and they were standardized rental houses of the time and were not considered special in any way. Therefore, all Machiya area very similar in their appearances.

One can really experience the functional beauty of Japanese architecture in a Machiya, from the latticed fences and folding chairs. When one looked at the lattice, they would know right away what kind of business the house was doing at that time.




When you look up, one may see a “Shoki-san.” Shoki-san is the guardian deity of the house. It is very small, and has an appearance of a demon. But it is said that Shoki-san can ward off evil spirits. It is made of the same ceramic material as the roof.



When looking closer at the different Elements of a Building



Let’s take a look at the corners of the roof. In order to make the corners of a roof, the carpenters need to make some complicated calculations.

The finished corners are often very simple, yet very beautiful and powerful. One can’t help but to feel overwhelmed.






This here is a Nageshi.

The original intent of a Nageshi is to keep the structure levelled, but it has also become a design element. 

One can see if a Nageshi is structure or decorative by looking at it closely. Let’s take a look at the upper part of this Nageshi. If there is a gap there, this is a design element.




This roof is made of wooden shingles. Since it is a natural material, it looks absolutely magnificent with a bed of overgrown moss on top.

While there may be problems when considering the durability of such roof, but it organically became harmonious with nature, and is of most beautiful. 






Let’s look at the triangular element at the front of the roof. This carving is called a Gegyo (懸魚).

It is an ornament of a powerful fish. It is a symbol to protect the wooden buildings from fire. In some buildings, the Japanese word for “water” or other water-related objects are used as the Gegyo. It is a very old tradition that continues to this date.





Here you can see the joint of two large element. 

A wedge of wood is driven into the joint to hold it in place. No glue is needed. 





There are many dead knots in the wood. The dead knots are removed and live pieces of wood are embedded in their place. In Japanese we call this buried wood “Umeki”.

The Umeki in this photo is not a simple square or round piece of wood, but a petal-like shape. The playfulness of the craftsman and the small spirit of wanting to make their work beautiful is something that strikes a chord with the viewer even today.






This is where wood meets stone. 

By using stone for the foundation, which are prone to rot, the number of repairs can be reduced.







The rotten wooden footings have been replaced.

Why was it replaced with a larger piece of material than the original?

It is because the replaced material is expected to shrink over decades to come, and will eventually become the same size as the original. Wood is a living material!







In Kyoto, many traditional wooden buildings such as shrines, temples, and machiya still remain to this date.There are many things that can only be discovered by actually touching the buildings on site, and you will be able to gain valuable experience that cannot be imagined by simply learning about traditional architecture in classroom lectures.
Let’s discover the rich tradition of Japanese craftsmanship and spirit that remains when you visit Kyoto!


For more information, please feel free to contact me.