Shimogamo Jinja Hojoan by
Kengo Kuma and Associates


Japanese architect Kengo Kuma built this temporary hut using cedar, ETFE plastic and magnets to pay tribute to a humble dwelling chronicled by Japanese author Kamono Chomei over 800 years ago (+ slideshow).

Shimogamo Jinja Hojoan by Kengo Kuma and Associates

In his seminal book Hōjōki, or "An Account of My Hut", Chomei outlines his experiences living alone in a three-by-three-metre hut that has since become synonymous with the history of Japanese dwellings in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Shimogamo Jinja Hojoan by Kengo Kuma and Associatesc

Kengo Kuma and Associates wanted to create a modern interpretation of the hut using contemporary materials and construction techniques.

Shimogamo Jinja Hojoan by Kengo Kuma and Associates

"Kamono Chomei built Hojo-an as a movable house at the time of the turbulent medieval age in Japan," explain the architects. "To emphasize his idea of 'mobility' we made a combination of ETFE sheets that can be rolled up and portable."

Shimogamo Jinja Hojoan by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Magnets are fixed onto a latticed framework of cedar beams and hold the plastic sheets in a sandwich structure. "The three soft sheets are combined to a single unit, and grow into a hard box," added the architects.

Shimogamo Jinja Hojoan by Kengo Kuma and Associates

The hut was constructed at Kyoto's Shigamo Shrine, where Chomei's home is said to have stood, and it remained in place until December.

Other recent projects by Kengo Kuma include the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center in Tokyo and a pharmacy and clinic with plants growing on its facade. See more stories about Kengo Kuma and Associates.

Photography is by Rei Niwa.

  • Jesse Sindler

    Dudes interested in this post should check out Ann Cline's A Hut of One's Own: Life Outside the Circle of Architecture

  • Michel

    It’s sad to see such a poor reading of one of the most influential books in Japanese architectural history.

    Shimogamo Jinja is one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful temple in Kyoto. It stands where the two rivers join into one. It is a place of contemplation and deep worship for people willing to connect to water and forest’s spirit.

    Both Hojoan and Shimogamo talk about Japanese people’s relation to nature, their religious respect toward it and belief that man should live in her with care and respect, as a being of ephemeral nature like any other thing that composes it.

    But saying that, I don’t question the Japanese-ness of Mr Kuma. He surely has a good reason to put a pile of plastic sh*t in the middle of this holy land. Like in all of the other places where he was invited in the past.

  • Bob

    Interesting to see a successful Japanese architect sinking in a total misunderstanding of his own country year after year.