Entering from the front one first finds the dirt room called Niwa. On the right a stone basin protruding through the wall is installed into which valley water from the hill behind the house is roouted so that water was readily available. On the left-hand side is the room called Umaya.
past Niwa is the roughly 49.5 square meters room called Oe, whose
raised wooden planks were not commonly found in the homes of
the period. The sunken hearth in the center of the room was used
as the main living quarters for the family. The Oe and Niwa rooms
are separated by a wooden wall shaped like a hook which curves
int Oe. Such fixtures were also not found in the homes of commoners.
It is strangely appealing to wonder at the origins of the rough scars on the thick chestnut pillars in Niwa and the shading time and use have etched into the edge of the hearth. Chatting over a warm cup of tea with the teapot being suspended over the fire one can easily feel the magic of the home.
Peasant homes in the beginning of the Edo period (17th century) did not use tatami mats but thin straw mats to cover the earthen or wooden plank floors. Therefore, the remaining three rooms: Nando, Nakanoma and Butsuma, which all contain tatami mats offer convincing evidence of the wealth and elevated status bestowed upon the family.
The thatched roof has tsunoya (a T-shaped roof support which resemble horns resulting from the addition of rooms to the main house) at both the front and back and has low-hanging eaves suitable to its age and stability. The shape of the hipped roof can not be called particularly complicated, but it is rich with variations such as the front having a hipped gable and the two tsunoya having hipped eaves. The front is a gabled, hipped roof and the back is hipped the gables are all supported by a wooden latticework with the foremost gable being rounded and characterized by a steep slope. The size and slope of the hipped gable above the entrance coupled with thickness of construction give it a unique intensity and elegance. This type of thatched roof is peculiar to this region of the country. The shape of the foremost gable was installed as aesthetic decoration but the front and side entrances are believed to have had special significance. Approaching the Tsubokawa family home, one's gaze is naturally first drawn to the hipped gable above the entryway but from there moves on to take in the entire roof and it's superior stability and craftsmanship.
Matabashira (Forked Pillar)
One of the many special features of this home is the use of matabashira. Matabashira are pillars that are forked at the upper portion of the trunk. One limb is cut down and a side rafter is supported by the remaining portion of the limb. The remaining limb extends diagonally upward to support the main roofbeam. In other words, one pillar is used to support both lower and upper structural support girders. Three of these pillars were used in the construction of the Tsubokawa family home; one each in the rooms Niwa, Umaya and Nando. Chestnut and zelkova woods were predominantly used for the matabashira, which is more suitable for a home in the deep-snow region of Echizen, modern day Niigata Prefecture.