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This little Japanese house (about 1/4″ scale) is made of black bamboo wood, and was purchased in Kyoto, Japan in the 1950s. It was up for auction with a vast collection of miniatures this past October. I lived in Japan for a while, and I loved this house the minute I set eyes on it (on the photo on the auction site). Fortunately, not many of the bidders were interested, and I snagged it quickly for a fairly low price. Make sure to click the photos throughout this post for larger versions. The detail is amazing!

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We start at the front gate.

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Welcome!

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Left side of the house from the gate.

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Outside side wall.

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Outside back wall. Traditional Japanese houses present blank walls to the street (modern ones do too for that matter) with the elegant part of the house reserved for those let inside the gate to the garden and beyond.

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Garden and the front entrance to the house.

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Side of the house.

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This is the outside (street side) of the house with a glimpse of the step between the private part of the house to the bathroom (wall on the right).

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The house is a bit like a puzzle. The front gate, as you see comes out of its slot.

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Front gate removed to show the garden side of the house.

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The roof comes off as well. Under the peaked roof is the beamed ceiling, which also comes out.

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Inside, showing tatami mats pulled out of place.

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Bare floor minus tatami.

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The entire floor also comes out.

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Niche for a scroll and ikebana (flower arranged in vase–I’ll have to find or make one of those).

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Tatami mats are simulated with polished wood.

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The floor taken out of the house. The wooden blocks on the far side represent the cabinets where the bedding, seating cushions, and other accessories for life are stored. Traditional Japanese houses are very clean and uncluttered, which, looking around the mess of my own house, sounds like a good idea!

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The tatami mats fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

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Mats and floor back in place.

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The details are wonderful. The shoji screens are made of bamboo wood and paper . . .

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. . . and slide open and closed.

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Shoji on the side of the house.

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Now, here’s another detail I didn’t understand at first. I puzzled over what this door was for . . .

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Open, it reveals a stack of wooden panels, which come out.

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And then I said, “Aha!” The panels slide in across the porch to shield the shoji.

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There. Now if there is bad or cold weather (or maybe an attacking samurai), the inside of the house is shielded.

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The cabinet for the solid wood screens that go across the front of the house.

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Geta waiting to be worn so the inhabitants can step into the garden across the stepping stones.

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The house with the pieces taken apart.

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Looking along the side of the house and the all-important facilities.

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The shed that houses the necessary also pops out of its slot.

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The washing-up area on the right side.

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The very necessary (the rather impolite word for it is benjo).

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Putting the pieces back together. First the under roof (beamed ceiling) that fits into smooth slots.

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Then the roof, which fits snuggly into slots around the ceiling. No glue necessary.

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View from the top with everything restored.

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The front garden is kept private by bamboo (or similar plant) growing inside the fence.

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I’m very pleased with this little house. I ahhed and ohhed when I unwrapped it. It was lovelier than I thought. I have seen one or two like it around the auction sites and ebay, but this is the best-kept house I’ve seen with no damage at all. I will try to keep it as nicely.

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Next, I’ll share pictures of the quarter-inch scale English cottage I accidentally bought at the same auction.