Beitou 北投文物館

Beitou 北投文物館

Historic architecture in situ

- The Shoyintsukuri-

The Shoyintsukuri

The Shoyintsukuri in Japanese architectural layout started to receive its original shape from the 12th Century (the period of Kamakura Bakufu, 1185-1333 A.D.). The Shoyintsukuri was derived from "Shindentsukuri" (寢殿造) and means the living room (座敷, pronounced as "Zashiki") with an alcove (床の間, pronounced as "Tokonoma") in a house. In the periods of Bakufu, Shoyintsukuri was originally the architectural layout for living that could only be adopted by monks and the ruling class such as the nobles, the Shougun (將軍) and the Samurai (武士) in the feudal times; general civilians were prohibited from adopting it. It was until the Meiji period (1868-1912 A.D.) that Shoyintsukuri became popular and appeared in general people’s houses. The basic components of Shoyintsukuri are the alcove (床の間, "Tokonoma"), a space of heightened floor (床脇, "Tokowaki") and a open and placid den (書院, "Shoyin"). 

The alcove (床の間, "Tokonoma") was originally for the Buddhist practicing needs of Zenist monks and was the location of settling niche for Buddhist statues. As a result, it is the place with the highest dignity in a house. The pillar (床柱, pronounced as "Tokobashira") is regarded as the spiritual pillar of the "Shoyintsukuri", and the Japanese especially prefer high-class wood with knots or warts as the materials for "Tokobashira." The aesthetics and decorative consideration are much more emphasized than its actual practical function. The open and placid den (書院, "Shoyin") is extended from the side of the alcove (床の間, "Tokonoma"), and there is a design of open window closely adjacent to the side of corridor. The "oriel window" style is called an  "attached den" (付書院, pronounced as "Tsukeshoyin") which is a set wooden table with the height of 40cm from the Tatami floor; this is the space where people can read books and write using the light from the open-air passageways (緣側, pronounced as "Engawa").