Thursday, March 15, 2012

John Roderick and His Minka

John Roderick was an American journalist and foreign correspondent for the Associated Press. He spent most of his career covering China. His career with the AP spanned over fifty years while he covered happenings in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

But it was his time that he was posted in Tokyo, Japan during the 1950s that the direction of this post is going. And his friendship, no it was stronger than friendship, his KINSHIP with Yoshihiro Takishita.

Together Roderick and Takishita took on the monumental task of relocating and restoring a 250-year-old Minka farmhouse for Roderick to live in. Roderick later wrote a memoir about the experience, Minka: My Farmhouse in Japan that was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2007.

Minka is not the name of the home, but it is a traditional Japanese building style. The central concept in the design is the use of readily available, and therefore less expensive building materials. Noka, or farmhouses, such as Roderick's, are generally made almost exclusively from wood, bamboo, clay, and various kinds of grasses and straw. As in other forms of traditional Japanese architecture, wooden columns support all the weight of the structure, so that the walls are not load-bearing and can afford to have spaces left in them for windows or entryways. The wooden columns and crossbeams are intricately locked without the use of nails and form the skeletal structure of the home.

Birdling Films has created a fascinating and beautiful documentary based on Roderick's book. The film makers have aptly described it as "a film about place and memory, a farmhouse in Japan, and the lives of the people who called it home. It's only about 15 minutes long, so you don't have to rearrange too much of your schedule. I think you'll love it. I sure did.

Minka from Birdling Films on Vimeo.

Talk to you soon,


  1. This was a very nice and interesting story thanks for sharing.

  2. You're quite welcome. Thank you for stopping by.


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