It is no secret that I (Brett) do not have a fondness for concrete. There are plenty of places where it’s use is appropriate, but one place I feel that it usually doesn’t blend well with is in kominka (folk houses). There are many reasons I feel this way and I won’t go into it here now as my thoughts would probably take an entire post of there own.
Kominka Yukuzasama has had a concrete doma 土間 (low space of the house often including the entryway), and from the start I had the inclination to remove it and go back to compacted earth.
Traditionally, Japanese folk houses like this would have a compacted earth doma. It serves as an example of the blending of inside/outside that is a common theme of older Japanese houses. This was a multipurpose space to get work done, store tools, and to prepare and cook food.
The texture and natural feel of these floors is something that I have admired for quite some time. It blends very well with the sturdy yet graceful dark beams, soft white paper doors, and the beige straw mats of these old wooden houses.
I had thought to take a break from large projects for a bit, at least through the heat of the summer. However, as the days went on and the heat didn’t break…I did. Suddenly I found myself with a heavy iron weight in my hand, using it to crack apart the concrete to expose the earth below.
Once started, there was no turning back, and soon the crimson color of the Ojika earth was more prevalent than the dull gray that previously dominated.
About two and a half days of cracking and prying later and the concrete has all been lifted. Hauling it away will be another chore for somewhere in the near future.
With all of the concrete removed, the next step will be mixing, filling in and compacting the earth, nigari, and slaked lime that make up the durable earth floor.
I look forward to trying it out and seeing the results!