Cat’s Eye View of Japanese Architecture Vol.2 – Crawling

Posted by on Jan 16, 2016 in Architecture, Blog, Japanese Architecture

16photo0115_3At the beginning of “I AM A CAT” by Soseki Natsume, an abandoned cat crawled through a gap in a bumboo fence looking for some food. It found itself in a yard of someone’s home and said “How strangely the wheel of fortune turns! Had it not been this gap, I might have starved to death on the roadside!” It became the pet of the house.

Just by crawling through small space, you might not always have a life changing experience of this level. But crawiling always forces you to tighten your body and draw your chin, which makes it unavoidable for you to look up immediately afterward. “What a different world!” you would think.

This surprise and admiration are sometihng intended by a crawling door (:Nijiri-guchi) in a Japanese tearoom.

A crawling door is about 18 inches wide and 18 inches wide, and its bottom is about 18 inches from the ground. As a guest of the tea ceremony, you walk through a tea garden and crawl through this tiny door to enter the room. The very first things you look at, in your stiff position of crawling, are a flower vase with wild flowers and a calligraphic work on the wall. They are the only ornaments in a tea room and you have no choice but admiring them!

So you see, by being in all fours like a cat, you enjoy a piece of architecture in a fresh way. Japanese tea masters knew that. (Y)