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No. 63, Spring 2014

Straw Bale Building in Japan

By Kyle HolzhueterApril 2, 2014November 20th, 2022No Comments

Photographic Exploration of Straw Building in Japan

The following is a photographic exploration of some of the straw bale buildings found in Japan.  The buildings are divided into four groups. The first group includes buildings consisting of straw bales surrounding a timber structure with a plastered exterior finish applied directly to the bales.  The second group includes buildings with plastered interior and exterior finishes applied directly to the bale walls.  The third group consists of buildings utilizing rain-screens.  Lastly, the fourth group consists of buildings utilizing straw bales as interior elements.  Since the use of straw bales in group four is sometimes more decorative than functional, these buildings are not straw bale buildings in a strict sense. Within each group, there are differences between buildings in regards to other construction details.
Buildings Consisting of Straw Bales Surrounding a Timber Structure with a Plastered Exterior Finish Applied Directly to the Bale Walls
Jinya, a home located in Nantan City, Kyoto-Prefecture, was designed by Goichi Oiwa of Slow Design Research Group and the bale walls were built by Takao Kobayashi, a master plasterer.  Construction began in April 2004 and was completed in October 2004.  The exterior is finished with earthen plaster, while the interior is finished with earthen plaster on a bamboo lattice or wood.
Furyu was designed by Goichi Oiwa and built by Ishii Construction Company and now serves as a café and gallery.  Takao Kobayashi led construction of the straw bale walls.  Furyu consists of straw bales surrounding a conventional timber frame.  The exterior of the bale wall is finished with earthen plaster and the interior is finished with wood siding or earthen plaster on a lattice of split bamboo.  Construction began in the spring of 2008 and was completed in the fall of the same year.


Okinamamenoki, located in Ajimumachi, Oita Prefecture, is a private residence built by the homeowner. It consists of straw bales surrounding a timber frame with an exterior finish of earthen-lime plaster and drywall on the interior.  This home is special for a number of reasons: (One) the cost of materials came to roughly \3,400,000JPY (approximately $34,000USD). All of the lumber used was second grade and of reduced market value in Japan.  (Two) a smaller straw bale structure/tower is located within the open span of the larger home. And (three) the interior drywall is left unfinished, but painted with waves of fermented persimmon extract.

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