Ainu architecture: The “chise”


The word “chise” in the Ainu means “a house,” which could be seen in the Ainu Kotan (village). It was normally built in Yosemune-zukuri style(a square or rectangular building.)The building materials of an Ainu house varied according to geographical and climatic conditions. Bamboo leaves, wild grasses, thatch, reed grass and tree bark were used for roofs and walls, which were tied with grapevine or tree bark. The wood of chestnut, Japanese Judas tree and Amur maackia were used for supporting pillars, which were directly set up without foundation stones. A chise has three windows; the one in the back is a rorun-puyar (god’s window), through which the gods entered, the one on the right is for letting in light, and the one near the entrance is for cooking ventilation. The orientation of the houses in a kotan (village) is identical; in most of the cases, a house is oriented from east to west with the god’s window facing the east. A chise was 33 to 99 square meters in area. It was a warm and comfortable home of the Ainu in the old days. — Source: The Nippon-Kichi

2 responses to “Ainu architecture: The “chise”

  1. What are the common features of Ainu and Jômon architecture?

  2. This Ainu roof architecture could teach strawbale builders around the world some valuable lessons! A thermally insulating and sound proofing layer under a corrugated iron or shingle roof covering? Please add some more pointers to the exact methodology. Videos of roof construction or a full documentation would assure the continuity of this architecture as it would then be distributed worldwide because of its excellent technique and practical solution? A gem of a discovery, thank you to the ancient peoples of Hokkaido for their wonderful stewardship of a remarkable skill!

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