Yokooji family house (横大路家住宅)

The Yokooji family house is a historical example of architecture located in Kaminofu, Shingu-machi, Kasuya-gun, Fukuoka Prefecture. It is one of the oldest traditional farmhouses in the Kyushu region, and it is designated a national Important Cultural Property. It is commonly called Sennenya (literally, thousand-year-old house).

It is a magariya (bent house) with a thatched roof supposedly constructed in the early Edo period (mid-seventeenth century), but there are no extant materials that indicate the exact period of the construction.


According to tradition, when Saicho, the founder of the Nihon Tendai sect, founded Tokko-ji Temple in 805 after arriving at the area following his studies in Tang (China), he endowed ancestors of the Yokooji family, who cooperated in the founding of the temple, with 法火 (hori no hi flame) and Bishamon-ten-zo (statue of Bishamon-ten (Vaisravana)) as a token of gratitude. When 法火 at Mt. Hiei was burnt out in the fire attack waged by Nobunaga ODA against Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei in 1571, 法火 was supposedly carried from the Yokooji family house to Mt. Hiei, and 法火 is still burning in the kamado (kitchen range) of the house, having been protected for more than a thousand years so that the original flame would not go out.

The house has a thatched roof of yosemune-zukuri (hipped roof) style. It is a magariya with a protruding section on the eastern side. The house was wholly taken apart and repaired, starting in 2000 and ending in April 2003. The finish of the components suggests that the construction of the house dates back to the mid-seventeenth century, making it one of the oldest folk dwellings in the Kyushu region. Although at the beginning the house was constructed in Kudo-zukuri style, in which the ridge is U-shaped, in the early nineteenth century it was modified into the current magariya. When the house was taken apart and repaired, the roof tiles on the hisashi (eaves) and Shoji-to (sliding paper door) at the entrance were removed to restore the assumed form of the house that existed in the early nineteenth century.

Famous places in the neighborhood

Water of Iwai
Miraculous water that is said to have been bestowed by Saicho. Tradition has it that if you drink this water, you will be blessed with a boy. Currently, the source of this water is dry.

[Original Japanese]