Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tea and Snacks for Carpenters

Dumpster in our yard as viewed from the front porch- bet the neighbors are thrilled
I went to a new onsen yesterday. The usual one had some kind of fire and is closed for repairs. The new onsen offered up a few novel experiences- hot floor tiles in warm sauna rooms; hot tiles with onsen water flowing at a constant rate, a cold room with air conditioning blasting, a sauna with a big bowl of salt to rub into your skin, and other lounging rooms with TVs. In Japan there is a lot more laying on the floor than in the States. The TV news station showed a newscaster reporting the news along with a panel that asks questions about the stories as they are reported. A different format than I have seen in the States- kind of like Wolf Blitzer reporting the news with the ladies from The View talking and asking questions.

I went with two of my favorite mama friends. We chatted about my house renovation. My friends' concern was, "Who will take the carpenters drinks and snacks? Who will visit the work site for you?" In Japan the tradition is that the owners take tea and snacks daily to the carpenters building the house. This way the owners and the carpenters are together daily on the work site. From my observations here in Kamakura, the carpenters, once they start, are fast. The daily ritual of tea and snacks lasts for only one or two months. I told them we don't do that in America either, that and the onsen.

The daily update from the home site is that the demolition is progressing as you can see by the filling of the dumpster (above). The house was originally built by a couple without children so it had only two bedrooms upstairs with a sun porch across the back. The second floor was later renovated, but the back bedroom was merely the enclosed sun porch; it was eight feet wide and twenty-five feet long and without a closet. We wanted a more traditional layout which requires walls to be moved and to add an extra bathroom in addition to closets. The picture below is of the bathroom which was removed- it was inset at the top of the stairs and without a window. After twenty years of living here and there, we wanted a window in our bathroom, really light entering into the house as much as possible. We also wanted to push the bathroom back away from the landing to return the upstairs back to its original design, has more chi or flow that way.
2nd floor bathroom- gone
I asked the Builder what his crew would think of the owners bringing tea and snacks daily, he said, "They'd love it." I am sorry I can't do it, but I am glad I'm not living in the house at the moment.