Joan (a tea house in Aichi prefecture) (如庵)

Joan is a chashitsu (tea house) in the Urakuen Garden in Inuyama City, Aichi prefecture. It was transferred to the present site by Nagoya Railroad Co., Ltd. in 1972. It was designated as a national treasure in 1951. One theory has it that Joan was named after 'Joan' or 'Johan,' which was the Christian name of Urakusai ODA, who was the owner of the tea house. Urakusai had built another tea house named Joan before on the site of his house in Osaka Temma, which was reconstructed as 'Genan' in the Urakuen Garden.


The tea house was built in 1618, when Shoden-in, which was a subtemple of Kennin-ji Temple in Kyoto City, was reconstructed by Nagamasu ODA, who was Nobunaga ODA's own younger brother. In 1873, Shoden-in was merged with Eigen-in, on which occasion it was disposed of to supporters in Gion-cho. In 1908, it was transferred into the site of the main home of the Mitsui family in Tokyo.
(Trivia: it is said that the whole house in its original form was transported to Tokyo along the Tokaido road without being disassembled.)

It was designated as an important cultural property (which is equivalent to national treasure at the time) in 1936. Later, in 1938, it was transferred into the site of a villa in Oiso-machi, Naka County, Kanagawa Prefecture by Takamine MITSUI, and in 1972, it was transferred again to the present site by Nagoya Railroad Co., Ltd. It was designated as a national treasure pursuant to the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties in 1951.


With a facade being tsuma (the gable end of a structure normally at right angle to the main ridge) provided with a kokerabuki (shingled) irimoya-style (hipped) roof, Joan has a distinctive stylishness different from that of Taian built by SEN no Rikyu. The tea room has a mukogiri (one of the positions in which a sunken hearth may be built in a tea room) with nijohan-daime (two and a half plus a daime-size tatami mats).

It has an eaved doma (a floor of hard-packed earth) with a wing wall on its front left, which leads to the nijiriguchi (crawling entrance) on its right and the hika (or kosho, attendant of a noble person) no ma on its far end. When entered through the nijiriguchi, dedoko (a decorative alcove protruded into the room) of about 1.2 meters wide is located on the far left, and a katteguchi (service entrance) is located on the farther right of dedoko. From the katteguchi, which serves as both sadoguchi (entrance for making tea) and kyujiguchi (apprentice's doorway), a wall extends obliquely along the traffic line of the service, and a triangle board called 'urokoita' is placed on the doorway. The tokobashira with naguri (rough-hewn post) carved with an adz manifests the rigid taste of samurai, yet it is not the least rough. The daime tatami mat in front of the katteguchi is the teishuza (seat for the host). Doko (built-in cabinet) is located on its side. Although tokonoma is located to the right behind the host, it is close enough to the host because it is a dedoko. At the furosaki (front end of the tea-making space) stands a nakabashira (a small central pillar which stands at the front edge of the host's mat) attached to the itakabe (wooden wall) partition. While the nakabashira and itakabe partition the hanjo (a half sized tatami mat) used as shobanseki (seat for an accompanying guest) located beyond furosaki from teishudatami (tatami used as teishuza), by providing an arched aperture in the lower part of the wall, they also meticulously take into account how the accompanying guest will look at it.
Although such structure is unusual, along with the urokoita, the structure doesn't show an irrationality; rather, it manifests extraordinary skills of Urakusai, who is said to have been 'a special tea practitioner other than the seven disciples of Rikyu.'
The room, more spacious than a koma (smaller tearoom) of two tatami mats, yet retaining a sense of tension must be credited to Joan Urakusai, who explicitly said 'a room of two and a half or one and a half tatami mats is like a torture to the guest(s).'
Other renowned features include 'urakumado,' which is a window with tightly arranged small bamboo slats, and 'koyomibari,' which is a wainscot papered with old calendars. The ceiling under the front eave has a kakekomi tenjo (ceiling consisting of different planes) structure that takes advantage of the gradient, with kesho-nokiura (rear eave with exposed balks and roofboards) style surface, on the center of which a tsukiage mado (top-hinged swinging window) is provided. Although there are total of five windows provided on the walls, i.e., one facing the eaved doma with a wing wall, two on the south wall that usually take in subdued light to avoid direct sunlight, two on the east wall which are urakumado with tightly arranged bamboo slats, the light amount is not sufficient. However, the light from the tsukiage mado almost at the center of the room well supplements the quantity of light. Rather, the subdued light coming through the windows on the walls accentuates the top light dramatically. When looking at the tea house from a modern point of view, the rationality found in every aspect of the tea house is nearly perfect. The katte (a place used to cook and prepare food in upper class residences) of three tatami mats is provided with a hearth and mizuya (the washing place in a tea-ceremony room). The structure of musomado (a window made of narrow boards or slats, wider than ordinary muntins, taterenji, set vertically in a line with approximately the same size spaces between them) is rigid, showing the taste of Urakusai who was a samurai.

On the whole, the decorous style quite different from that of Soan tea house by Rikyu reflects the 'temperance of samurai,' making it a masterpiece tea house. Tea houses modeled after Joan still remain in different places. It is also called the 'tea house of koyomibari' (tea house papered with old calendars).


1 Inuyamagomonsaki, Inuyama City, 484-0081

Seven minutes' walk from the Inuyamayuen Station on the Meitetsu Inuyama line (on the site of Meitetsu Inuyama Hotel).

[Original Japanese]