Sukiya-zukuri (数寄屋造り)

Sukiya-zukuri is one of the Japanese architectural styles, and is characterized as a design of residential house in a sukiya (teahouse) style.

Its name comes from 'suki' which means enjoying furyu (elegant aestheticism), such as waka (31 syllable Japanese poem), tea ceremony, and Japanese flower arrangement (refer to sukimono), and 'sukiya' means 'a house built as you like,' or a teahouse.

It is a house built by sukiya carpenters (refer to Daiku (carpenters)) using a specific method of timber-framework.


Teahouses called sukiya first appeared in the Azuchi-Momoyama Period. Originally a sukiya was a small stand-alone teahouse (at most 4 and a half tatami mats in size) built facing a garden. At that time, shoin-zukuri, containing an impressive room furnished with an alcove, shelf, and tsukeshoin (a built-in table) were already established, with its role in maintaining hierarchy and status, but masters of ceremonial tea disliked formal designs and gorgeous decoration. They liked sukiya which were built in a light and easy style.

In the Edo Period the sukiya style spread from teahouses to residential houses. Today, many houses and fancy Japanese-style restaurants are modeled after sukiya architecture.

Experts of architectural history call it 'sukiya style shoin,' considering it not as an original style but rather as a kind of shoin-zukuri.

Design unique to sukiya-zukuri:
Sukiya architecture is characterized by complete elimination of the status and style that shoin architecture put emphasis on. Its design is simple and sophisticated, reflecting the spirit of a tea master in rejecting superficial decoration and stressing internal self improvement to entertain guests.
The following are features of sukiya-zukuri:

The omission of nageshi (a horizontal piece of timber in a frame):
Menkawabashira (bark surfaces) with round surfaces are used, usually in place of these nageshi.

The alcove in a sukiya is small and simple compared with that of a shoin-zukuri.

Deep eaves:
The eaves are wide, creating shadows and a feeling of peacefulness inside the room.

Typical remains of sukiya-zukuri:

Shin-shoin of Katsura Imperial Villa
Shugakuin Imperial Villa
Manshu-in Temple
Rinshunkaku Villa (Sankeien Garden)


A luxurious Japanese-style mansion built for a lavish amount of money is commonly called 'sukiya-zukuri' or 'sukiya-bushin.'

Junichiro TANIZAKI loved sukiya. His own house was of sukiya style, and he extolled the beauty of sukiya in his essay "Ineiraisan."

[Original Japanese]