'Room in a box' takes Japan overseas

Click to follow
The Independent Online

For anyone who cannot make it all the way to Tokyo, architect Asao Sakamoto has the solution. He will deliver Japan flat-packed anywhere in the world.

Winner of the 2008 International Good Design Gold Award, the "Hako-Ie" -- which translates to "room in a box" -- uses traditional carpentry methods to construct a box that incorporates tatami-mat floors, pale cedar wood and sliding paper doors that shut out anything that is not Japanese.

"There are many parts of Japanese culture that people from abroad admire -- like the tea ceremony, putting on a kimono, or 'ikebana' flower-arranging -- and the 'hako-ie' gives them a place to do that," said Sakamoto.

"For many years, I had dreamed of building a Japanese-style room in a traditional way rather than a modern interpretation that would be easy to assemble and take down again," he said.

"And by making it possible to take it down, it would enable me to show off a Japanese home anywhere in the world."

The trick was to design a room that incorporated all the key features of a Japanese room, including a narrow wooden veranda and an alcove known in Japanese as the "tokonoma" that displays a treasured scroll or flower arrangement, yet still be able to survive climates very different to those of Japan.

The resulting structure, which sells for Y2.2 million (€16,240), requires no nails or screws and just a hammer to gently tap the components together.

Sakamoto said he built "dozens of prototypes" before he got a version that was both unmistakably Japanese and sufficiently strong.

"When I finally succeeded, I relaxed in the finished room and that is when I felt truly proud of my Japanese heritage," he said.

For more information:  http://www.eyes-japan.co.jp/