In our throwaway society, we often overlook the value of preserving things that may be old or run-down, even when they represent cultural practices that are vital to some people. Sometimes it takes a fresh view to appreciate the beauty and value embedded in labor-intensive, traditional craftsmanship.
The film chronicles the 1970s restoration of a 250-year-old Japanese farmhouse, or minka, by American journalist John Roderick and Japanese architect and art collector Yoshihiro Takishita. After purchasing the old building, the men relocated it and—with the help of traditional builders and artisans—turned it into the beautiful home they shared for over 40 years.
Meaning “people’s house” in Japanese, minka is a form of traditional Japanese house that was once common throughout Japan. Typically built of wood, paper, and thatch—without nails or concrete foundations—minkas were made with local materials and building techniques, and were perfectly suited to the local climate. Unfortunately, many of these masterpieces of traditional craftsmanship are being demolished because they do not fit a modern lifestyle (for example, they often have no plumbing or heat). The skills and materials needed to restore them are disappearing.
Connections to National Standards
Common Core English Language Arts. SL.11-12.1.c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies. D2.Geo.4.9-12. Analyze relationships and interactions within and between human and physical systems to explain reciprocal influences that occur among them.
Next Generation Science Standards. HS-LS2-7. Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.