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2017 Fall Pork Miso Soup Festival Report

Posted: 2017.11.16

Our biggest party yet—300 people!

Our annual Pork Miso Soup Festival was held on Sunday, November 12th. It was a gorgeous, crystal-clear fall day, perfect for playing outdoors.
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This time, the always popular woodworking booth featured a picture frame and a flower stand. Guests had fun making their projects using hand saws and cordless screwdrivers.
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The “autumn crafts" booth featured wreaths and cedar arrangements, small animal sculptures, leaf collages, and a large tree collage all made out of beautiful fall foliage, berries and vines, pine cones, nuts, acorns, and fronds from pine and cryptomeria trees.
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Guests came up with lots of clever, interesting, and beautiful ways to use the materials we had gathered.
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At our food booths, we prepared pork-miso soup, kiln-fired pizza, yaki-soba, barbecue, drinks and coffee. We were very grateful for the attendance this time—nearly 300 people!—but unfortunately that was far more than what we planned for. We sincerely apologize that we weren't able to provide a satisfying lunch to everyone; we'll make sure this doesn't happen again.
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Lots of little kids attended. It was really cute watching them play with the “Sound River" music installations we made for a previous event, our log swing, and the various athletic installations on the grounds.
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Our next event will be a “Wood-Home Café" on December 2nd. Details will be posted on the website soon!
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Luna Moths

Posted: 2017.09.01

We caught a luna moth photo again; this one is a bit worse for wear compared to last year's.
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Beautiful, fascinating creatures: adults have no mouth and don't eat. They just mate and lay eggs; a female will lay about 4-7 at one time, 400-600 in just one week. And then they die. The eggs hatch into caterpillars after 8-13 days. Five weeks is spent as a caterpillar, then the insect spins a cocoon. It will emerge after about two weeks as a moth, or if it is fall it will hibernate in the cocoon over the winter.

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Open House

Posted: 2017.08.22

The new itakura-style “Mt. Tsukuba House" will be open to the public for tours.

Date: Saturday August 26th, 2017 10AM-4PM
Location: 1747 Usui, Tsukuba (The specific address is not yet accessible, so please use this general address for your car navigation system.)
Map

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Overview:
This two-story solid wood home was designed to evoke the traditional “storehouse" building style. The main roof is Japanese tile; the lower roofs are galvanized metal panels. The upper exterior walls are Japanese sand stucco while the lower walls are cryptomeria cedar paneling. The highly insulative triple-paned tilt-turn windows are imported from Europe. The windows compliment the warmth of the solid cryptomeria cedar used throughout, to create a comfortable environment for every season. Large tilt-slide* patio doors connect the living/dining area with the outdoor deck and the surrounding countryside.
*Tilt-slide patio doors are German technology that allows large doors to tilt in for top ventilation, or to slide fully open.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Telephone: 029-847-9930 (Architectonic Atelier Yuu Office)
email: kinoie@kk-yuu.com

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Report: Travel to Slovenia and Croatia

Posted: 2017.07.08

I'd like to report about the trip I took to Slovenia and Croatia during the Golden Week holidays.

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St. Mary's Church floating in Slovenia's Lake Bled.
I started the day with a run along the lake shore, listening to the birdsong and feeling the clean air in my lungs.

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Postojna Cave, Slovenia
The cave system is more than 20 kilometers long, so we rode a mining car-style tram—sometimes with very low headroom! The stalactites I saw here were bigger and had more unusual shapes than those I've seen in Japan.

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Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Layers of limestone have built up naturally to form dams along the path of the water, forming the lakes. The water was clear and sparkling green. This park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Dubrovnik, Croatia
This walled and fortified city prospered as a base for maritime trade, maintaining its autonomy by means of its elaborate defenses. The Old Town is highly picturesque both from outside and when walking through its streets; walking along the city walls gives beautiful views from various heights and angles. The Old Town is also registered as a World Heritage Site.

Both Slovenia and Croatia are rich in nature. The food there was simple and people seemed quite shy, but not unpleasant. Although Dubrovnik was seriously damaged following the breakup of Yugoslavia, citizens' restoration efforts have mitigated most of the scars from the war.
--Hiroshi Minamide

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Architectonic Atelier Yuu on TV Asahi

Posted: 2017.05.10

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Last month, TV Asahi filmed an interview of a Yuu employee to be aired on their regular morning television lineup.

TV Asahi's weekday “Shinichi Hatori Morning Show", airs Monday-Friday at 8AM. In the Monday 9AM to 9:15AM segment, “Yoshizumi's Future Vision", Yoshizumi Ishihara proposes life-enrichment activities, hobbies and lifestyles.

In a recurring theme, Ishihara-san profiles people who have left the Tokyo Metropolitan area and moved to places lik Tsukuba.He provides information for people who might be thinking of moving out of Tokyo, detailing the current lifestyles of people in the countryside.

The May 15 segment describes the life and work of Architectonic Atelier Yuu's Hiroyuki Orui and his wife Yumiko, who made the move from Tokyo's Itabashi Ward to live in an old Tsukuba farmhouse.

The program was originally scheduled for May 8th, but was postponed for a week, to be aired on Monday, May 15th. We will update this article if the network changes the schedule again before broadcast.

by Eiji Tsushima

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Enjoy Country Life: a Stained Glass Flower-Making

Posted: 2017.04.29

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Architectonic Atelier Yuu Presents
Enjoy Country Life: a Stained Glass Flower-Making Lesson

Date: May 21, 2017 (Sunday)
First Session: 10 AM – 12PM (5 participants)
Second Session: 1PM-3PM (5 participants)
Cost: 1,000
Participants should be middle-school age or older.
Please bring an apron.
Reservation deadline: May 15th.
Contact: Anne Kohtz (Architectonic Atelier Yuu Staff)
Email: kinoie@kk-yuu.com

Locatio: Yuu's Hojo Seminar House. Tsukuba City bus service and parking are available.

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Winter Holiday Schedule

Posted: 2016.12.16

Winter Holiday Announcement
We would like to take this opportunity to extend heartfelt thanks to all our clients for your patronage during the past year.
Architectonic Atelier Yuu will be closed for the winter holidays from
Friday, December 30th to Thursday, January 5th.
If you urgently need to contact us during this time, please call 090-9013-9134.
We apologize for any inconvenience, and wish you a very enjoyable holiday season.
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Advice on Building with Wood Event in Hojo

Posted: 2016.11.30

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Open House in Tokyo

Posted: 2016.11.14

OPEN HOUSE
The “Nakajyuku Home" will be open to the public for tours.
Date: November 26, 2016 (Saturday) 10 AM - 4PM
Location: Nakajyuku 20-6, Itabashi, Tokyo 
(No parking is available.)

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Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Telephone: 029-847-9930 (Architectonic Atelier Yuu Office)
email: kinoie@kk-yuu.com
Or click here for our online contact form:
【Contact Form】

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Fall Tonjiru Matsuri

Posted: 2016.10.12

Fall Tonjiru (Pork Miso Soup) Festival
Date: November 12, 2016 (Saturday) 10AM - 4PM
(Unless it's really pouring rain—check our website !)
【Architectonic Atelier Yuu Offices】 ←Click here for map
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Please bring your whole family to this annual event!
No reservation is required.
Cost: ¥300 (Children 14 and under are free.)

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Activities

The Sound of the Forest:
● Make music with our home-made natural musical instrument installations 

Sunday Carpentry Booth:
● Make a nifty cellphone speaker from bamboo
● Carve your own bamboo flute
● Attract birdsong with a homemade bird-feeder
● Carve a simple bird-call

FOOD:
● Enjoy the famous Yuu Pork Miso Soup
● Pizza and sweet potatoes from our wood-fired pizza oven
● Barbecue and smoked treats
● Relax with Yuu coffee and tea in the Yuu cafe

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Please come and enjoy the beautiful fall weather with us!
Contact us if you have any questions:
CONTACT US
Telephone: 029-847-9930(Architectonic Atelier Yuu Office)
e-mail: kinoie@kk-yuu.com
Or click here for our online contact form:【Contact Form】

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Open House

Posted: 2016.09.14

The new “Ushiku House" will be open to the public for tours.
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Date: Saturday, September 24th , 10AM-4PM
Place: 3-115-6 Kariya-cho, Ushiku, Ibaraki

Building Specs
2-Storey Timber Frame New Construction
Floor Area: 29.5 Tsubo (1050 sf, 97.5 m²)
Roof: Gable style; Galvanized Steel

For this house, the exterior is cryptomeria (sugi) siding with a black persimmon-based stain, accented with traditional white exterior plaster.
Deep eaves cover a second-floor veranda and a first-floor deck.
Interior structure is concealed and walls are finished with natural clay paint, creating a quiet, calm atmosphere.

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Playhouses for Joso—Report

Posted: 2016.05.20

In response to last year's flooding in Joso city, Architectonic Atelier Yuu volunteered to build replacement wooden playhouses for three kindergartens there. Participants at this year's Ulala festival helped us build the second set of three playhouses (with grass roofs), and last weekend we installed them at the kindergartens.

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We loaded the playhouses on trucks and drove them to the kindergartens, where we set them in place with a crane truck. (Shown : Toyoda Kindergarten)

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We also made four kids' benches for each of the three kindergartens (12 total).

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The flowerbeds at the kindergartens were blooming beautifully.

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The two finished playhouses at Toyoda Kindergarten.

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Installation at Tama Kindergarten was a bit tricky because it was so close to the first one, and there was a stiff breeze blowing !

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The two finished playhouses at Tama Kindergarten.

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At Mijyo Kindergarten, we installed the playhouse in one piece.

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The finished Green Roof Playhouse at Mijiro Kindergarten.

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The finished Wooden Playhouse at Mijiro Kindergarten.

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Construction approval was obtained from the local frog population.

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Event Report: Yuu Ulala Festival 2016

Posted: 2016.04.27

Our Ulala Spring Festival “Tree House" was held on Saturday, April 23rd.

In response to last year's flooding in Joso city, Architectonic Atelier Yuu volunteered to build replacement wooden playhouses for three kindergartens there. At this year's Ulala Festival, we invited the children and parents of the kindergartens to join us to build the second set of three playhouses, which have been designed to have grass roofs. We also built wooden benches to replace the kindergartens' benches that were washed away in the flooding.

The main event at the festival was of course the “Green Roof House". With the help of our guests, we built the playhouses in the “itakura" solid wood traditional Japanese building style, and laid the sod on the roofs. The playhouses will be transported to the kindergartens at a later date.

Next to the building workshop, we had the woodworking classroom, where guests could build wooden benches that will be donated to the kindergartens along with the playhouses, as well as make their own chopsticks to take home.

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Even the wee kindergarteners helped with construction of the playhouses!

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With the help of our staff members, the junior junior carpenters were a big success.

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The kids also helped lay turf on the galvanized roofs, before we attached them to the structures.

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The completed playhouse! We'll take them by truck to install at the kindergartens.

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Here in our “carpentry corner", our contractors and carpenters helped with making chopsticks and benches.

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Previously, we made a pizza oven from old bricks we had salvaged, so delicious pizza was on the menu!
We also had original Yuu curry made completely from scratch, barbecue, yakisoba, and a relaxing coffee space for refreshments and lunch.

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The kids enjoyed our big slides, log swing, slack lines, and log course—we're considering what play equipment to make for our next party!

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Eating outside always makes the food exceptional.

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The staff was very pleased to see more than 150 people at this event.
We hope everyone will join us in the fall for our “Pork Miso Soup" Tonjiru Matsuri!


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At this festival, we also had a collection box to raise funds for the victims of the recent Kumamoto earthquake. We collected a total of 44,545, including the contributions from our staff and contractors. We would like to sincerely thank everyone who contributed.

On Monday, we sent the collection directly to the “Kumamoto Earthquake Donations" disaster relief fund established by the Kumamoto Prefectural Government, so that it can be distributed directly to the people affected by the earthquake.

Architectonic Atelier Yuu will continue to collect donations, however if you would like to donate directly to the disaster relief, you can contribute directly to the same account:

Japan Post Bank “Kumamoto Earthquake Donations" account
Account number 00940-0-174320.

Since the Japan Post Bank has a fee-less “tsuujyou haraikomi" (normal payment) service, the full amount of the collection will be deposited to the relief fund. The post office has pre-printed money transfer slips available for donations.

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Spring 2016 Ulala Festival

Posted: 2016.04.11

Architectonic Atelier Yuu's Spring Ulala Festival 2016
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Date: April 23rd (Saturday) 10AM-4PM
**In the event of bad weather, please check the website for schedule changes.

Place: Architectonic Atelier Yuu Offices/Grounds
855 Numazaki, Tsukuba
【Architectonic Atelier Yuu Offices】 ←Click here for map

No reservation is required.
Cost: ¥300 (Children 14 and under are free.)

★Events:
After the disastrous flooding last September in Joso, Architectonic Atelier Yuu volunteered to build and install six new wooden playhouses for three kindergartens.
At this year's Ulala festival, we invite everyone, especially the children and parents from the three kindergartens, to help build the second group of three playhouses; this time with sod roofs. We'll also be building children's benches to replace those that were washed away. Please join us to enjoy the spring weather and support the Joso community!

“Green Roof Playhouse"
・The playhouses will be built in the “solid wood" style; everyone is invited to help!
・We'll lay sod on the roofs for a “green roof".
(The playhouses will be installed at the kindergartens on a later date.)

Woodworking Classroom
・We'll make wooden benches to donate to the three kindergartens.
(The benches will be presented later.)

Recreation
・Log Swing
・Giant Slide
・Slack Line Courses

Viands
・Homemade pizza cooked in our wood-fired pizza oven
・Homemade original curry
・Barbecue and Yakisoba
・Fresh, gourmet coffee

Bring your whole family to this event!

Please contact us if you have any questions:
CONTACT US
Telephone: 029-847-9930(Architectonic Atelier Yuu Office)
e-mail: kinoie@kk-yuu.com
Or click here for our online contact form:【Contact Form】






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Open House: Toride Home

Posted: 2016.03.19

Date: Saturday, April 2nd, 10AM - 4PM
Location: Toride City, Chobeshinden 237-20
(Click here for map)
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Toride Home: Two-story new wood-frame construction
Floor Area: 30 tsubo (1131.5 sf, 105.1 sm)
Roof: Galvanized Steel (Shed roof)
Construction: The owner participated in the construction process by staining the exterior wood siding using persimmon paint. Interior walls are finished with white Makabe clay paint, creating a striking contrast with the cryptomeria timbers. The beams in the main living space are reclaimed timbers. The overall effect creates an intimate connection with natural wood.

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Two Open Houses April 9th

Posted: 2016.03.19

Two newly completed homes will be open for visitors.
Date: Saturday, April 9th, 10AM - 4PM



Ōnuki House: Single-story complete renovation of existing 40-year-old house. img:News
 
Location: Tsukuba (near the mountain)
(Click here for map)
Floor Area: 33.5 tsubo (1192 sf, 110.7sm)
Roof: Existing
Exterior Walls: Solid wood, sand stucco
Interior Walls: Solid wood, Japanese plaster


Itabashi House: Two-story new wood-frame construction
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Location: Tsukuba Mirai City, Itabashi 2099-6
(Map coming soon.)
Floor Area: 30 tsubo (1067.5 sf, 99.1 sm)
Roof: Galvanized Steel
Construction: The ground floor of this house is conventional timber frame construction where the structure is not visible; the second floor is traditional solid-wood (itakura) construction, revealing all of the house structure.

Don't miss this opportunity to see a home that showcases both new technology and traditional building practice in the same structure!
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Telephone: 029-847-9930 (Architectonic Atelier Yuu Office)
email: kinoie@kk-yuu.com
Or click here for our online contact form:
【Contact Form】

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Playhouses for Joso

Posted: 2016.03.01

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Last year's disastrous flood in Joso was a terrible blow to the residents, and the aftereffects continue to be felt. One of our main ideals at Architectonic Atelier Yuu is to build community, so we looked for a way to contribute to the recovery. We heard from the Tama Kindergarten that their wooden playhouses had been damaged beyond repair, and we agreed to donate six replacement playhouses to the Tama, Mijyou, and Toyoda Kindergartens (two each). Hearing of the project, our lumber supplier also volunteered to provide lumber at cost, for which we are very grateful.
The first of the replacement playhouses was constructed on March 1 at Tama Kindergarten, and we will construct two more playhouses at Mijyou and Toyoda in the next week.
Phase two of the project will be the construction of three more playhouses, this time with green roofs. These will be constructed in conjunction with our Spring Festival (April 23rd), and we hope the children (and parents) of the three kindergartens can participate. The playhouses will be installed at the kindergartens after the April 23rd festival.
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Open House

Posted: 2016.01.06

The newly renovated “Okijuku" house will be open to the public for tours.

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Date: Saturday, January 23rd, 10AM-4PM
Place: 2756 Okijuku-machi, Tsuchiura
(Click here for map)

Building Specs
Floor Area: 35 tsubo (1245 sf, 115.7 sm)
Roof: Thatch, Galvanized Steel
Exterior Walls: Solid wood, sand stucco
Interior Walls: Solid wood, sand plaster

Don't miss this rare chance to see a traditional thatched house renovated for comfortable, elegant 21st century country life while maintaining the original rustic exterior.



Upcoming: on January 30th, a fully-renovated 170-year-old farmhouse (minka) will be open for tours. Watch this space form more details!

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Telephone: 029-847-9930 (Architectonic Atelier Yuu Office)
email: kinoie@kk-yuu.com
Or click here for our online contact form:
【Contact Form】

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Fall Pork-Miso Soup Festival Report

Posted: 2016.01.06

Lots of Stoves

Our fall Pork Miso Soup festival was held on Saturday Nov. 28th, 2015.
It was a beautiful fall day, perfect for playing outside.

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Our popular woodworking booth was set up for making a small stool and a toy car, and both adults and children enjoyed building their own.

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Children particularly enjoyed building and then decorating their toy cars.

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For this festival, we built and demonstrated several types of stoves.
The above photo shows a log stove, which is simply a length of log cut vertically with a chainsaw to make a hole in the middle. This efficient miniature stove can be used for cooking or heating in place of a campfire.
We tried roasting meat and marshmallows on skewers, but it was hard not to burn the marshmallows!

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Here you can see a newly-lit log stove in the foreground, and behind it a half-burned log stove. Next to them is a rocket stove, which is a simple but highly-efficient wood-burning stove built from a metal can.

It isn't clear where the name “rocket stove" came from, but it is possible that it was named for the roaring sound it makes, or perhaps from the flame that rockets from the top when you put in a lot of fuel. This stove cooks efficiently even with very small pieces of wood or grass, and can be moved by hand if necessary.


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The “Forest, Water, and Sun" company exhibited and demonstrated two of their pellet stoves at the festival. These stoves can efficiently heat a whole house.

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This time, we made minestrone in addition to our usual pork-miso soup.
It was so popular that we ran out early this time; we apologize to guests who didn't get any!

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For this event, we built a new brick pizza oven. The pizza dough was also homemade!
We had lots of different toppings, and the pizza was very popular.

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The barbecue was also very popular; there was a long line, and we ran out of meat by noon. The beautiful fall weather must have sharpened everybody's appetite!

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The last kind of stove we had was a cardboard-box smoker. We used it to smoke meats, cheeses, and eggs. The guests were surprised that such a simple arrangement made such a wonderful taste.

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We were so happy that the weather was so perfect and that so many people could come.
Thanks very much to everyone who came! We're looking forward to seeing all of you at our events next year.

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A Large German Garden Cat

Posted: 2015.10.16

For everything from gardening to construction work, a wheelbarrow is always useful for carrying small amounts of materials. In Japanese, this one-wheeled vehicle is called a “neko", or cat. Why cat? We have to admit we don't really know, but we speculate that it could be because the wheelbarrow can negotiate narrow spaces, or maybe because it takes corners well, like a cat.
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This “cat" vehicle can be purchased in a Japanese Home Improvement store for just 3,000-4,000 yen. Cheap, but with the drawback that it isn't long before it's rusted out or the tire is flat.

About 28 years ago, I was able to make a leisurely visit to Romania. It was a little before the Romanian Revolution; dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was still in power and cities, particularly the capital Bucharest, were under tight regime control. Just walking around the town could be difficult and unpleasant, as one could at any time be challenged by the secret police (Securitate) and required to present a passport. Becoming tired of this situation, I decided to go to Transylvania and visit some rural areas. There, where industrialization had not yet managed to destroy traditional life, I found I could relax and enjoy my time. Now, I'm a bit nostalgic for the time I stayed in mountain villages where packs of wolves roamed in the nearby forests.

Of the things I saw then, two tools impressed me. One was a pitchfork, used on a farm to move hay. In Japan, this tool is usually found next to the shovels in a home improvement center, but in Transylvania it was made (by hand) from a single piece of tree. In the spring, one would go into the mountains and find a tree branch with twigs growing to the right and left off the central stem. The branches would be fixed into the proper shape with string, and the tree left to grow. In the fall, the branch would be cut, the handle shaped, and the tines sharpened for a finished, natural pitchfork.

The second of these tools was a wooden wheelbarrow. A low box was mounted between two long handles. The wheel assembly underneath was also made from the grafting of a tree. If I close my eyes, I can still see an image of a grandmother slowly pushing one of these down a country road.

Since then, I have wondered if there could be a way to get such a rustic wooden wheelbarrow now, instead of the mass-produced industrial product one can buy today. I was never able to obtain one like that, but I recently discovered that a wooden Amish wheelbarrow made in America is available for purchase online.
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The Amish are now pretty well known; they are a religious group of German heritage living in the United States, with a population now numbering around 200,000 people. They attempt to preserve the lifestyle of the time in which they immigrated to the US, wherein they eschew the use of modern conveniences such as electricity and telephones and refuse to conform to modern society. Additionally, they attempt to be largely self-sufficient, rejecting the use of machines and adopting occupations such as farming and animal husbandry. They rely on horse-drawn carriages for transportation, instead of automobiles.

Unfortunately, though, when we ordered an Amish-made wheelbarrow, we were informed that the company “was not able to ship to Japan". This was very disappointing. However, a bit more searching turned up a carpenter in Germany who is making all-natural wooden (including the wheel itself) wheelbarrows. The German words for wheelbarrow are “Gartenkarre", meaning “garden cart" or “Schubkarre", meaning “push-cart".
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Coincidentally, in August one of our staff, A.K., was making a trip to Germany, so we arranged to get in touch with the German carpenter. To make a long story short, this German “garden cat" wheelbarrow has now arrived at our offices by air cargo.

The wheelbarrow is approximately 200 cm long and about 57 cm wide; quite a bit bigger than a normal wheelbarrow, and we daresay, large for a wheelbarrow in Germany, too. Because of its shape, we think it is most suitable for transporting firewood. If you'd like to see it in person, please come to our offices any time.
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(TSM; October 10th, 2015)

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September 2015 Kinugawa River Flood

Posted: 2015.09.18

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The Extent of the Disaster
Joso City, immediately to the west of Tsukuba, was created nine years ago by the merger of Mitsukaido City and Ishige Town, and has approximately 65,000 inhabitants. Typhoon No. 18 (Typhoon Etau) brought heavy rainfall, causing the failure of approximately 200 meters of the Kinugawa River levee at Joso on the afternoon of September 10th. The resulting floodwaters covered approximately 40 square kilometers. Also in Tsukuba City, unprecedented amounts of rain fell continuously beginning from the evening of September 9th.

When the Kinugawa River levee was breached, the water initially flowed into the outlying areas of Joso City, but spread so rapidly that by evening the flooded area extended 8 kilometers to the south, affecting the center of the city including the city hall and railway station. Eyewitnesses reported, “The water came so quickly that all of a sudden we were in chest-high water and didn't know how we could get out. We were so lucky because firefighters found us and carried us on their backs to safety."

After the initial flooding, about 80% of the 23,000 homes in the Joso area (18,000 homes) had no water service; as of Wednesday September 16th approximately 7,400 homes still had no water service. Since many rural homes use well water, it will require a considerable amount of time to repair or replace broken pumps, disinfect wells contaminated by sewage water, and ensure the safety of the water supply. Unfortunately, until the water supply can be restored, normal life cannot continue. As for electricity, approximately 12,000 households were without power after the flood, but by Wednesday, service had been restored to most areas.

According to the prefectural survey department, the total number of houses damaged in the flood is approximately 11,000. Of these, approximately 4,400 were flooded over the floor level, while approximately 6,600 were flooded below floor level. Joso City and Tsukuba City together provided shelter for approximately 6,200 people evacuated from the flooding. As of Wednesday, more than 2,000 people were still being housed in official evacuation locations. In addition, it is clear that many more people are still being housed by friends and relatives.

Architectonic Atelier Yuu homes were also affected by the flood; three of our homes were flooded above floor level. One home, currently in the design phase of a full-scale renovation, was flooded 1.8 meters above floor level. The elderly couple living there took refuge in the second floor, and were rescued the following day by a helicopter from the Self-Defense Forces. Several of our contractors and craftsmen were also affected by the flooding and suffered property damage.

We are working to restore the affected homes, but the work is not easy to accomplish. When floodwaters have reached above floor level, reconstruction work is particularly difficult, but a flooded foundation can also be very problematic. Mud brought in by the floodwaters can be as much as 10cm thick covering the surface inside the foundation walls. This must be removed as quickly as possible as it creates a permeating stench and is a health hazard.

All of the household items that have been made useless because of the floodwater must be removed, including tatami mats, bedding, household appliances, and furniture, creating a huge amount of stinking disaster waste. However, we bow our heads in thanks for the work of the columns of Self-Defense Forces members, as we see them patiently and carefully searching for missing people in the flooded fields of the area.

Lessons from the Disaster
Twenty-nine years ago (the year after the Tsukuba World's Fair), the Joso area experienced a similar flood from the Kokaigawa River to the east. Nevertheless, the majority of Joso-area residents were not aware of the flood hazard maps of the area. The rebuilding of the Joso City Hall, damaged in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, was just completed last year. However, even though it was constructed in a zone designated as hazardous due to flooding, its large emergency power generator was set up at ground level. The floodwaters rendered it inoperable, so all of the people who took refuge in the city hall spent two anxious nights without electric power.

During this period of heavy rainfall, the Sakuragawa River, which flows around the foot of Mt. Tsukuba to the city of Tsuchiura, also reached flood stage, and evacuation warnings were issued for various areas of Tsukuba City at about 3PM on Thursday, September 10th. Several more Yuu houses were in the areas named in the evacuation warnings, but when contacted by telephone, these clients said, “We'll be OK" and didn't evacuate. Fortunately, the Sakuragawa levees didn't break this time, but if just one place had weakened, we could have had the same disaster here in Tsukuba. During the 2011 disaster, it is assumed that among the victims of the huge tsunami were those who had experienced many tsunami warnings when the actual tsunami was only, for example, 20 cm high, and so didn't take the warnings on 3/11 seriously.

Immediately after the current disaster in Joso began to be publicized in the media in conjunction with neighboring Tsukuba, many of our acquaintances and former clients phoned and emailed to confirm our safety and express their sympathy. Because we were also at the time working to grasp the immediate situation in Joso, we may not have responded sufficiently to everyone. At this time I would like to offer my personal apology for any lack of respect or any concern I may have caused.

(TSM; September 17th, 2015)

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Student Visitor from Denmark

Posted: 2015.09.08

Graduate architecture student S.E. Nilsson from Aarhus School of Architecture in Denmark visited Architectonic Atelier Yuu last week.
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In late July, we received an earnest message to the effect of, “I will be traveling in Japan, and very much wish to see your architecture office," which request we were happy to grant.
Ms Nilsson's research focuses on how to take advantage of traditional wood architecture techniques in the context of 21st century technology, so she wanted to study the highly developed traditional wood building methods of Japan.
She had just five days to spend in Tsukuba, during which time we were able to show her the “Hojo House", Yuu's demonstration and seminar house, a partial rebuilding of a late Edo period farmhouse (used to accommodate guests who wish to experience living in a “minka"-style home). We were also able to visit with the “F" family, who graciously showed us their nearly 300-year-old Tsukuba family seat. In addition, she toured new construction job sites, where she was able to meet Japanese carpenters and craftsmen.
Architectonic Atelier Yuu has recently hosted two European architecture interns per year, for about two months each. This is very stimulating for our staff, and also allows us to learn about the wood architecture of Europe.
After her stay in Tsukuba, Ms Nilsson's travel schedule includes the study of thatched buildings in Hida Takayama, Kiso Valley, and the restored thatched houses in Kyoto's Miyama district. At the time of this posting, she should be in the Kiso Valley area. (TSM)

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Image: Anne Hvides House, Svendborg, Denmark.
Photograph copyright Kåre Thor Olsen
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anne_Hvides_Gaard_Svendborg.jpg#

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Repair and Re-thatching (Part 1)

Posted: 2015.05.13

Repair and Re-thatching of a Traditional Thatched Roof (Part 1)
From the “Currently Under Construction" Files: Okijyaku (“O") House

**The thatching of this house will be featured later this year on TV Asahi.**

This old “kominka" style thatched farmhouse is located in a quiet village within the environs of Tsuchiura City, on the shores of Lake Kasumigaura. Here, we discuss the re-thatching of the traditional roof.

1. Before:
The state of the thatch is relatively poor; the bamboo sub-structure is visible in places, and the distinctive tiling on the ridge is in danger of falling off.
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2. Preparation
The material is local high-quality “Shima" thatch. Three small bunches are bundled together, to make ready for use on the roof.
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3. Removal of old thatch
The thatch on the north side of the house is deteriorated so much that it leaks in various places. It must be completely removed.
Rice straw is used as a “lift" (a base material laid on the eaves to ensure the proper roof pitch) on which the new reeds of the thatch will be laid. Unfortunately, since it is spring, locating rice straw is somewhat difficult.
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4. Thatching
The bundles of thatch will be laid on beginning at the eaves and continuing in regular courses until the ridge. In the photo below, one course of new thatch has been completed.
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5. Toe-board logs (scaffolding)
As the thatch is laid, logs are tied to the bamboo structure of the roof so that they will rest on top of the completed section of thatch; these are used as scaffolding for the thatchers to ascend the steep roof. The logs will be removed once the roof is completed.
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6. Reuse of old thatch
Where the old thatch is in good condition, it will be reused as a base, with new thatch laid on top of it.
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7. Television Coverage
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Two non-Japanese members of the Architectonic Atelier Yuu staff discuss the project with the very tall (205cm) traditional carpenter from Germany who came to visit.
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“Rethatching" will appear on TV Asahi's “The World Was Surprised Japan! Awesome Idesune!! Delegation".
(The broadcast date has been changed; we will post the new broadcast date and time as soon as it has been determined.)

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Repair and Re-thatching (Part 2)

Posted: 2015.05.13

Repair and Re-thatching of a Traditional Thatched Roof
From the “Currently Under Construction" Files: Okijyaku (“O") House

8. “Kiritobi"
The two ends of the tiled ridge are decorated with “kiritobi"; a stylized kanji character. The “kiritobi" is delicately cut into the thatch using the large thatch-trimming shears. In this case, the west end reads “dragon" (Ryū龍), and the east end can be translated as “auspicious/celebration/long life" (Kotobuki寿).
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When the kanji character has been cut into the thatch, it is painted with ink.
Since thatched roofs are prone to burning, they are often decorated with Chinese characters having some reference to water. In contrast to Western dragon mythology, Japanese dragons are spirits associated with rain or a body of water, so the “dragon" character is an appropriate charm against fire.
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On the east side, over the space which is traditionally the location of the parlor, the character “kotobuki" (celebratory) is frequently used.
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9. Trimming the thatch
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The thatching is completed, and the new ridge has been laid and tiled.
The thatch will be trimmed starting from the top; the scaffolding logs will be removed as the trimming progresses downward.
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The eaves are also trimmed to a sharp edge.
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10. The completed thatch.
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