NIHONMONODiscovering Japan [Nihon] through authentic craftsmanship [Honmono]

Restoring Traditional Machiya-style Residence in Narai Juku  ”Moto Kushi Tonya Nakamura Residence”

Restoring Traditional Machiya-style Residence in Narai Juku
”Moto Kushi Tonya Nakamura Residence”

Former lacquered comb wholesaler

Nakamura Residence is an estate owned by a former comb wholesaler, Rihei Nakamura. It tells what traditional Machiya-style residents were like back then. As a former Narakawa Village Tangible Cultural Property, it is open to the public, and lacquered combs and materials of the time are displayed on the 2nd floor. The residence is neatly arranged, and the high ceiling enhances spaciousness. Nakata was surprised to hear that it was built about 180 years ago towards the end of the Edo era, and reflected his thoughts to the everyday life of people who were living in the period.

Wisdom of people restored in various ways

There is a small tea room when you go up the box-style stairs of the building. Nakata sat in the tearoom and opened the ”shoji” paper screen, looked out, and commented, ”it is fun to gaze at people passing by.” There is a door guard with beautiful drawings on the cabinet in the tearoom. The door guard is slightly slanted downwards, and if you look at it standing up it would look tilted. That is to make the drawing come to the perfect angle when one sits down for a cup of tea and looks up at the cabinet.

Crime prevention devices- side door and ”sarugashira”

We then went outside to see the exterior of Nakamura House. On the eaves, which looks more like a small roof, there were wooden ”saruatama” that was shaped like a monkey’s head. By nailing ”saruatama” to roof boards from below, they made the roof fragile, so if the burglars stepped on the roof it would collapse. It can only be seen here, even in Nakasendo. Another security measure is the small doorway, or a wicket door. Because it is a cold region, it also served the purpose of preventing cold air to come into the house when going in and out.


Moto Kushi Tonya Nakamura Residence
311 Narai, Shiojiri City, Nagano Prefecture