Windows on the Teahouse

Windows on the Teahouse

yosutei interior
©2019 Takumi Ota Photography

The Japanese teahouse (chashitsu) is a special architectural structure which features many types of windows in a small space. These include renji-mado (windows made from wooden slats), maru-mado (round windows), tsukiage-mado (hatch skylights) and shitaji-mado (windows made by exposing the lattice framework of the wall).
Yōsuitei, which is also known as the Jusansonoseki (Thirteen-window sitting room), has the most windows among all existing teahouses.

About Yōsuitei

Yōsuitei was built at the beginning of the Edo period (1603-1868) at the residence of Gotō Kanbei in Kyoto. This was a gift from Maeda Toshitsune, the daimyo (a powerful lord of 10th 19th century during feudal Japan) in the area of Shiga prefecture. Kanbei worked as a swordsmith (or bladesmith) for the Maeda family. Originally, the Yōsuitei waiting room, called koshikake; the drawing room called shoin; and the garden (Yōsui-en) were built together at Gotō's residence. There was a pond in the garden between the teahouse and the entrance of the garden. Guests often traveled by boat to the teahouse. Recently, the teahouse was moved to Taiko Villa in Kyoto. The garden remains at the original location, Yōsui-en, and it is said to be one of the three best gardens in Japan along with the garden at Sento Imperial Palace and Shoseien at Higashi Hongan-ji.

yosutei exterior
Yosuitei exterior
Yosuitei exterior
Yosuitei interior
yosutei interior
Yosuitei interior
Yosuitei interior
Yosuitei interior
Yosuitei interior
yosuitei windows opened
Yosuitei interior
window with lattice framework
window with lattice framework
window with lattice framework
Yosuitei ceiling
Yosuitei ceiling

©2019 Takumi Ota Photography, Yōsuitei, Kyoto, built during the Kan'ei era (1624-1644) of early Edo period (1603-1868), Teahouse for Gotō Kanbei 

Enshū Kobori (1579-1647) oversaw the design and construction of the teahouse as well as the garden. After studying the tea styles of tea masters Sen no Rikyu (1522-91) and Furuta Oribe (1544-1615), Enshū discovered his own style, which became the Enshū style we know today. Enshū served as the tea master for the Tokugawa family and oversaw many renowned gardens and building constructions.

The Yōsuitei teahouse has a wood-shingled, hip-and-gable style roof with a notably steep pitch. It was likely designed to resemble a thatched-roof hut. The main tearoom has three tatami mats; the host prep room has two tatami mats; and the kitchen has two mats. Japanese-style rooms are commonly measured by the number of tatami floor mats which fit within the space. The host’s entrance and service entrance are positioned at right angles around a corner. The main entrance, through which guests crawl in, is set in the center of the wall so that guests will see the host’s seat in front of them as they enter. This setup establishes the host’s seat as the visual focal point by positioning the crawl-in entrance opposite of the three-quarter-length mat, and is a major characteristic of Enshū’s tearooms.

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Yōsuitei is also known as the Jusansonoseki (Thirteen-Window Teahouse), and it is the teahouse with the most windows in Japan. Yōsuitei’s multi-window design serves to bring in light, and to circulate air to ventilate the interior. When closed, the small sliding panels block out the light as if they were solid walls. When it is opened, the interior undergoes a dramatic transformation from a space of shadow to an airy space of light.

Enshū liked to stack exposed-lath windows above slatted windows, as he has done in three places within Yōsuitei. As the teahouse originally stood on the edge of a large pond at the Yōsui-en, one can presume that the low windows were intended to frame views out to the water. The high windows, on the other hand, may have been intended to frame views up towards a large pine tree that stood in the garden. Both features have a bourgeois feel to them that suggest they were designed to satisfy the taste of Maeda Toshitsune, who was known as a grandiose character. The handles of the sliding panels are designed to look like water buffalos and were made by Gotō Kanbei. They were also produced to Toshitsune’s orders. Toshitsune likely chose to incorporate Kanbei’s work because the metalworker was not only a subject of his domain but also the owner of the teahouse.

About Okoshi-ezu

The five architectural models displayed in the gallery are called Okoshi-ezu.

Okoshi-ezu developed with the rise of culture in Japan becoming part of the design process for tearooms and similar projects. In such instances, windows, columns, doors, and other design elements are generally drawn on washi paper, folded and assembled to create a three-dimensional drawing of the intended architecture. Okoshi-ezu were made especially when ordering a complicated tearoom, so that the structure and design details of the building could be well understood. Details such as the type and dimensions of fittings were also written down and acted as a blueprint and model in one. This design-making process existed as far back as the Momoyama period (1574–1600) and were still made well into the Edo period.

The Okoshi-ezu displayed here were published as part of Chashitsu (teahouse) Okoshi-ezu , Vol. 1-12 by Bokusui Shobō, 1963-67. Horiguchi Sutemi oversaw the publishing as a chief editor.
 

Yōsuitei, Gotō Kanbei Residence, Kyoto

Yosuitei okoshi-ezu  

 

 


 

Chashitsu Okoshi-ezu (Teahouse Fold-up Plans) Vol. 5
Teahouse, Gotō Kanbei Residence (Yōsuitei)
Kyoto
Bokusui Shobō (publisher), 1964

Yosuitei life-size replica  

Timelapse video | Life-size replica of Yōsuitei ©JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles


Shigure-tei, Kodai Temple, Kyoto

Shigure tei Okoshi ezu 1
Shigure tei Okoshi ezu 2

Chashitsu Okoshi-ezu (Teahouse Fold-up Plans) Vol.1
Bokusui Shobō, 1963

Shigure-tei stands in Kodai Temple. In this two-story teahouse, the first floor is called a mizuya, or a preparation room, and the second floor is where the host serves guests tea. It is connected to Kasa-tei (displayed to the right) by a corridor.

Kasa-tei, Kodai Temple, Kyoto

Kasa tei Okoshi ezu 1
Kasa tei Okoshi ezu 2

Chashitsu Okoshi-ezu (Teahouse Fold-up Plans) Vol.1
Bokusui Shobō, 1963

Kasa-tei is a one-story, thatched-roof teahouse with two entrances; one in the center of the west side, and the other in the southeast corner on the corridor side. The entrance on the west side is a unique structure, the door is divided into upper and lower portions, the upper panel tilts up and is fastened, while the lower door slides to the side. There are also ten windows of different sizes throughout the teahouse. The ceiling looks like an open umbrella from the inside, thus named Kasa-tei (Umbrella Pavillion).

Konchi-in, Nanzen Temple, Kyoto

Konchi in Okoshi ezu 1
Konchi in Okoshi ezu 2
Konchi in Okoshi ezu 3

Chashitsu Okoshi-ezu (Teahouse Fold-up Plans) Vol.3
Bokusui Shobō, 1963

This structure was designed by Enshū Kobori during the Edo period. The teahouse went through major repairs during the Meiji period (1868-1912). Currently, there are a total of six windows as part of this teahouse. These six windows are opened not to look at the exterior, but to allow guests to enjoy the changes in light and shadow reflected within the interior over the course of the tea.

Garden, Daisen-in, Daitoku Temple, Kyoto

Daisen in Okoshi ezu 1
Daisen in Okoshi ezu 2
Daisen in Okoshi ezu 3
Daisen in Okoshi ezu 4

Chashitsu Okoshi-ezu (Teahouse Fold-up Plans) Vol.1
Bokusui Shobō, 1963

Daisen-in is the sub-temple of Daikoku Temple and one of the five most important Zen temples in Kyoto. It has five small, extraordinary gardens. The gardens are all connected and tell the metaphorical story of journey through life according to Buddhist teachings. The arrangement of the rocks within the garden represents the movement of a stream. In the middle of the garden, there is a bell shaped window called a Katō window, an element of Zen Buddhist architecture often used as part of a drawing room. At Daisen-in this window is used as a focal point from which to view the garden.

Windowology Exhibition | Gallery Images

Gallery image of Windows on the Teahouse
gallery image of yosuitei okoshi-ezu from front
gallery image of yosuitei okoshi-ezu
gallery image of yosuitei okoshi-ezu from east
gallery image of yosuitei okoshi-ezu from entrance to kitchen
gallery image of yosuitei okoshi-ezu from entrance to kitchen
gallery image of yosuitei okoshi-ezu front entrance
gallery image of yosuitei okoshi-ezu
gallery image of yosuitei okoshi-ezu
Gallery image of four teahouse okoshi-ezu
Gallery image of four teahouse okoshi-ezu
Gallery image of teahouse okoshi-ezu

©JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles


Igarashi Tarō on Windows on the Teahouse


*Japanese names in this exhibition are written in the traditional Japanese order, with the family name first and personal name last.

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