Japan Room

Built by a Japanese carpenter (daiku) Kawaguchi Kiyotoshi and his apprentice (deshi) Yuki, residents of the village in Kyushu where Joy Hendry did her anthropological field work, this Japanese room contains:

  • tatami mats
  • decorative shoji (paper windows)
  • fusuma (sliding doors)

There is a space of polished wood called a tokonoma, which features a hanging scroll, extolling the unlimited nature of the arts in Japan, and a set of shelves known as chigaidana.

All the materials were made by Japanese specialists in the town of Yame in the Island of Kyushu, and the shoji and fusuma feature beautiful hand-made paper presented by the Mayor of the City for the purpose, along with a stone lantern, which stands outside, and a decorative lamp for the tokonoma. The garden of stones and the bamboo fence were built by Joy and Kumiko Helliwell, who were also responsible for founding the Japanese Language and Society course at Brookes. The stones are actually from Wales and Scotland, and the bamboo from Helliwell garden in Oxford!

The room is to be found behind a large wooden door in the main entrance hall of the Gibbs Building. Built in 2002, a small protective rite, known as a jichinsai, to bless the ground and guard those involved against misfortune, was held on the first day, 2 May, an uchi-iwai to see off the Kawaguchis on 21 May, and the room was officially opened on 10 June by Japanese Ambassador of the time, His Excellency Masaki Orita. The room is used for teaching about Japan, as well as for Japanese arts such as tea ceremony and ikebana.

Japan 2001 generously sponsored this venture, and the resulting room remains as a permanent souvenir of the year of Japanese activities that ran from May 2001 to June 2002, including Brookes’ own Arts Day.

We also received substantial donations from the Yamanouchi Research Institute, Blackwell’s Scientific Publishing and Suzuki Takashi. Donations in kind were received from Kawaguchi Yoko (mats), Shibata Takami (kakejiku or hanging scroll), Takiguchi Susumu (haiku), Tanigawa Keiji (tokobashira) and Watanabe Toshio (ikebana utensils) as well as the carpenter himself. Since then, the laquerware table was donated by Yo Maenobo, the zabuton cushions by Mitch Sedgwick and a tea set by Brookes Chancellor Jon Snow.