Monday, July 11, 2011

The old residence of Naoya Shiga

Continued from Reflections at Takabatake Salon.....

Takabatake-cho is an area of scenic beauty close to the primitive forests of Mt. Kasuga and is a lovely old residential area in Nara City.  Naoya Shiga (1883-1971), a man of letters, had his house built there according to his own design, employing the carpenter skilled for Sukiya-style architecture. He lived there with his wife and six children for nine years from 1929.   Let's enter and explore the old residence of his.

The house is registered as a tangible cultural property.

guest room on the second floor

Built at the beginning of Showa era (1926-1989), this house is pure Japanese

Style architecture and has a few elements of Western and Chinese style. 

Japanese traditional house is designed so as to cope with hot and humid summer.   House is well ventilated: wind goes through from window to window.  Woods, clay, or papers absorb humidity, deep eaves shut out strong summer sun and also keep out the rain, floor is slightly elevated off the ground in order to avoid moisture from the ground, and abundant foliage around the house cools air.

The house is designed so that almost all the windows serve as the picture windows.

his Western style study with picture windows

Shiga had two studies: one was Japanese tatami-mat room facing south and the other Western flooring room facing north which was mainly used in summer.   His masterpiece “Anya Koro”, or “Dark Night’s Passing” (1937), was completed in the former.

tea room

Ceilings are made of bamboos, reeds, or other woods, not only in Japanese tatami-mat room but also in Western style rooms.  Most of Japanese tatami-mat room have "tokonoma", or an alcove.

He loved his family most of all.  His wife’s room and children’s room were located in the sunny, cozy part, while his study and living room were in the north, which shows his tender affection toward family. 

from kitchen, sun room on the right,  dining room on the left

This is the place called  "Takabatake Salon" where neighboring artists used to get together. (Details are in Reflections at Takabatake Salon.)

from left top clockwise, statue of Shiga, bathroom with bath tub, skylight,
children's study room with lattice, corridor, and kitchen
He watched over children studying in their study room through lattice while relaxing in his own living room.

front garden, house, courtyard close to tea room, stone paved path

What a posh house and a glamorous lifestyle!  Many writers have been strugglign with their lives. 

Why did Shiga leave Nara where he loved so much?  It is said that he left Nara for Tokyo for the sake of his children's education and also because he found himself falling behind the times while being absorbed into the old cultures and nature of Nara.   He changed his residence as many as 26 times during his life and expressed that he deeply missed Nara.

The house was used by occupation forces for years after the end of WWII. Some parts of the house were converted for their convenience.  Recently, the concerned people about preservation restored the house back to the original floor plan and decor.  Now the house is owned and managed by an incorporated educational institution, Nara Gakuen.  It is open to the public when it is not being as a seminar house.

old windowpane

古い家に学ぶ 小説家・志賀直哉 奈良の自邸 (here in Japanese)

-To learn more about our world, please click on the picture of My World on the sidebar.-


  1. it is beautiful. i'm glad it is being preserved. i enjoyed hearing about this man's love of family. i don't know if i could have left that place to live in Tokyo, but sacrificing for his children was the best reason.

  2. What a cosy house he had in those days!
    Nara gakuen seems to manage well. Pillars or corridor are shining and the house seems clean and tidy.
    The house is Sukiya-zukuri but inside was added modern construction,too. So I feel his house narrates his way of life that cherish family and friends.
    Thank you sharing the house.

  3. Hi,Stardust!
    夫や私の友人がNara によく来ますがTakabatake salon は必ず案内する場所です。一度はボランティアの方が、色々説明してくださってラッキーでしたよ。
    Have a great day.

  4. Really nice place.I like "Takabatake salon"
    because the room has a top light and every one can gather easily.
    Old houses always are thought about how to take in surrounding nature like the picture window.

  5. Nature as art is so appreciated in your part of the world. I love this home and the way the light falls into its nooks and crannies. The idea of a study room for children that can also be viewed by parents is a wonderful idea. It is always encouraging when structures are restored and returned to the ways of the original owners. It seems this brilliant writer having moved so many times made an effort to seek adventure over comfort. :)

  6. Hi. Very nice blog. Like your photos

  7. Thank you for posting more information about this beautiful and interesting old house. It's a matter of concern that it was badly treated, but a relief that it is now looked after properly. It always makes me sad when beautiful old houses are treated without understanding or respect. Thank you for following my blog.

    Regarding the picture of the old window pane, is this glazed with hand-rolled glass? I think I can see that it slightly affects the view through the window. I like old window glass like this but often it is not appreciated.

  8. gorgeous, peaceful place now!!! it's so nice it is being cared for.

    i really appreciate all the information and history you provide in these posts.

    great photo's as well. so happy to be sharing blogland with you!!

  9. Such a lovely house and I, too, am glad it is being restored! Such interesting history and a very interesting man! And I enjoy all the very interesting information and history you share with us! Such a wonderful way to get to know more about THE World! So glad you share all of this with us each week! Hope you have a great week!


  10. Ah, such a beautiful place!

    It was really interesting to find out how Japanese buildings are made to fight heat in summer. In my grandmother's village (in Russia) summer is really hot, but no one builds houses like that there, to make it cooler inside. So it's too hot inside in summer, you can't even really sleep there. We would spend night in a barn instead :)


  11. The residence is beautiful, with such lovely views out the windows. I love the "Takabatake Salon" area and the long corridor. The garden and courtyard are wonderful too, would enjoy living there.

  12. What a wonderful residence and so well-planned for climate, natural environment, and family. I love those old wavy window panes!

  13. What an interesting story you tell about the lovely piece of architecture. I just love the way the windows all are open and in touch with the nature outside. All of the wood is unbelievable. I can only imagine what it is like to actually walk through the home. It is sad he left for the sake of his children. It sounds like he never found again what he had before leaving. Genie

  14. Thank you, this is such a beautiful and educational post and it is so good to know that this lovely property has been restored and is treasured . Even your photos exude the love of the family who lived there. Houses so often assume the character of their owner/designers.

  15. Such a lovely house. Thanks for the interesting information.

  16. Beautiful house! No wonder so many masterpieces were created in this house. It must have been very difficult for him to leave Nara for Tokyo. Eversince I came back from Japan I dream of building a Japanese-style house. Every detail is attuned to nature.

    Have a great week ahead, Stardust.

    Inside Cambodia

  17. this looks like a peaceful and serene place to live. I feel sad for Shiga that he felt he had to leave but I guess it was nice he at least had many happy memories of Nara.
    I love all of your photos you have on your sidebar-so beautiful!
    I look forward to following you.
    : )

  18. When I visited before I could not enter into the second floor, but tha last time when I went with my relatives I saw the tea room and his study room on the second floor.
    This change for the visitors is very convenient.
    Thank you for the effective explanation about this beautiful house.

  19. Thank you for the tour--it is a lovely house. I'm glad it is being preserved--culture and history should be saved for future generations. It is important they know what came before them. Have a lovely week. Mickie :)

  20. A beautiful tour and an interesting piece of history. I enjoyed your photos.

  21. To Jenny

    I’m not for sure, but probably it is hand-rolled glazing as you wrote. Modern glasses known as float glasses which have uniform thickness and very flat surface seem to be from 60s. I like old window panes, too.

    I got unable to reach your blog again. Hope this be solved sooner.

  22. Hello:
    Sadly, we know little about Japan and Japanese culture and so we have found this post extremely fascinating. The house is wonderful and your tour was absolutely delightful. It is so good to know that it is being preserved for future generations to see and to enjoy.

    We have found you via Friko and shall look forward to returning and learning more about your beguiling country.

  23. Beautiful house, it looks modern and traditional as well, a blend of both...
    Always love coming here to see so much new things...
    Have a fabulous day:)

  24. Very nice photos, my beloved dear friend!!!
    So clever and beautiful home!!!
    Your country is wonderful!!!
    I wish you a happy summer,why am away from the Internet, until September.
    Sorry about that.
    My best regards to all family!
    Many kisses

  25. Hello Stardust!
    Thanks for posting this additional information and presenting it so beautifully.It seems quite sad that, after designing this interesting house which met the needs of his whole family,he found it necessary to move.I hope his children did benefit from their Tokyo education!
    The use of natural materials and simplicity of design is lovely and looks so modern.

    Happy weekend!

  26. What a lovely peaceful place.

  27. That's such a wonderful place to relax and watch the world go by slowly...

  28. Fascinating example of Japanese architecture and lifestyle. I see purity, functionality, beauty and light.

    A wonderful house.

    I cannot see children in the house, not Western children anyway. They would upset the order and calm with their noise and clutter.

  29. I like it very much and I'm so glad it is being restored to it's original beauty!

  30. Thanks so much for this wonderful tour! I also read your another post about this house. I have never been to this house and didn't know that Shiga Naoya had such a lovely house in Nara. Your photos are superb as usual.


  31. Magda, have a wonderful summer holidays. See you again in Septemer.

    Sapphire, 旧志賀直哉邸は春日大社から「ささやきの小径」をぬけてすぐのところ、または、鷺池から5分くらいのところにあります。できれば気候のいい時期にハイキングも兼ねて、ぜひ。

  32. Thank you, Friends, for taking time. I always enjoy reading your impression.

    In Nara, architectures built at the beginning of Showa area are very rare, while we have many ancient or medieval architectures. Building a house totally made of natural materials is very costly nowadays, however, there are many good ideas we’d like to borrow from this house.

    If Shiga were alive now, I suppose he wouldn't have moved to Tokyo for the sake of children’s education, though I’m not sure what aspect of education he was concerned about. These days, there are many good schools with different unique school mottos in Nara, and regarding the numbers of students successfully entering prestigious universities, Nara ranks high on the list among all the prefectures.

  33. Thank you for these photos of this marvelous place. I've seen many pictures of Japanese houses, but have never seen anything like this. Shiga must have put a lot of time and energy in planning the design...and I can see why he wouldn't want to leave Nara.


Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. I will visit your blog shortly. Have a nice day!