Right angles are scarce in this wedge-shaped floor plan, but there is one room that is actually square. It’s a Japanese-style room in the back, with a traditional tatami-mat floor and sliding doors with panels of rice paper. Above these doors are panes of Diamant glass, an extremely transparent glass with a low iron content. In olden times, buildings were so close to each other that they blocked the sunlight, so this special glass has been mounted in this position to let in as much daylight as possible.
Inside this room you see a Shinto altar and a Buddhist altar, the focal points of ceremonial occasions that were observed at home, along with social events and get-togethers. This room was the center of family life, for the rice store was not only a shop but also a home, often shared by three generations – grandparents, parents, and children.
That explains the unique stairway; it rises to a landing halfway up, then splits into two stairways, one to living quarters and the other to spaces for living and running the rice business. We’ll climb the stairs later; there’s more to see down here on the ground floor.