2. Building characteristics

Audio guide

Let’s take a closer look. Imagine a pizza, round and flat. You cut a narrow slice, and bite off the pointed tip. What’s left is like the original floor plan of the Takeyama building: wide at the street side, narrow at the rear, with the rear section being the old stone warehouse and the narrow wing behind it. The hungry tsunami took its own bite of the tip, so the wing is gone now, and the warehouse is now the tip. 


Now look down at the sidewalk, and you’ll see lines in the shape of a trapezoid. That’s where the main building once stood. After the 2011 disaster, the road had to be widened by about three feet, so the main building had to be separated from the warehouse and shifted to one side, like cutting your pizza slice crosswise. The annex now fills the void and reconnects the two, but they both keep their original tapering lines.  


The oddity continues inside. There are various rooms in various shapes, but only one is rectangular. Even the pillars and beams seem askew, some cut to sharp angles, others obtuse, each showing the skill of the woodworkers in the Showa era. 


Mindful of the previous fires, the builders jacketed some of the structure with sheet metal, copper on the façade and galvanized iron on the sides. You can still see a remnant of the corrugated iron on the west side. There was even a layer of earth under some of it for extra fire protection. 


The annex is new, but with a nod to the past. It boasts a modern kitchen where the family can cook and even host cooking classes. Through an open door, you get a view of the main building and the stone warehouse. But underfoot is what’s called a “21st century doma,” recalling the doma or earthen floor of long ago.