The Ioka Family House

Rachel and Nina

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A Two Group Tokaido Shot


The Ioka family owned this house. They were merchants who sold oil ,and later ,incense. The house they lived in was very big for a house of that time. The roof was made out of green tiles. Inside the house, the walls were plastered. The frame of the house was built of cypress wood. They used cypress because it is strong and resistant to moisture. This house had a garden that was very large. The garden had a stone path lead to a shed in one direction and to a road in another direction. The shed was used to store things that could not fit in the house. In the garden, there were little trees in beautiful shapes and big bushes with little flowers on them. There was a small gutter lined with rocks so the water would not flood. On the side of the garden, there were some wooden stairs leading to a road where there were some more houses. This house is a very exquisite.

Pots for keeping miso in.

Going to see the old houses has been so fascinating. During this study I was supposed to look for furniture and tools around the house and why they were used. The Ioka house had different rooms for different purposes. Most rooms had tansu for keeping clothes, a cash box to hold money, lamp oil containers, oil for the lamps, hibachi and gotoku as the fireplace, jewel boxes to keep jewelry and valuables, and makimono, a scroll of calligraphy writing. In the kitchen, there was a oogama where food is cooked, a kettle, water storage jar where a lot of water is stored for cooking, drinking and washing, a sink to wash things in, rice cookers to cook rice, and a straw basket for carrying and holding vegetables and other food. The houses had only the furniture and tools that were important or useful. For example, they had pots and kettles so you can cook different food. Now, we use electricity or gas to cook our food and have fiberglass to insulate our house. Learning about old Japan has been great, but actually seeing what things looked like in the old times has been the BEST! I hope we can visit this old village again in the future. 

The Group's Tokaido Paragraph

The Ioka family were happy, rich oil and incense merchants. The Tayakayamas raised vegetables—beans, cabbages, carrots, eggplants and gourds. During the summer, it was hot and humid. Winters were white and freezing cold. The adults of the Ioka clan were always busy working in their shop but the children were able to play all sorts of games. The oldest son was terrible at kendama- the ball and stick game while the second son excelled with tops. The two girls would play string games everyday and also help their mother cook. The Ioka’s had a small garden with small trees and big bushes. Their house was near the Tokaido Road, where they could see samurai and other merchants going towards Edo. Nearby was a beautiful stream and lots of uguisu-bush warblers, who lived in the woods. Since the centipedes would crawl into the oil jars the Ioka’s would have to check the jars regularly to avoid contamination. Most of the houses in the village had thatched roofs but the Ioka’s and other merchants had tiled roofs. Many of the houses had sheds in the back where things were stored. In their village was a nice kabuki theater where the Iokas especially enjoyed the famous jikiniki plays.


Site constructed by Bridgette Fincher

Text by the students

Photographs by Mrs. Ishikawa- the clan's chaperone