In this paper the authors have tried (1) to clarify the regional characteristics of rural farmhouse forms, especially the distribution of farmhouse types, in the southern part of the Yokote Basin, Tohoku, northeastern Japan, and (2) to examine, through a study of recent changes, the structure of the process by which farmhouse forms change in relation to the physical and socioeconomic conditions of rural settlements.
The study is divided into three parts : (1) A region-wide questionnaire survey. Approximately 3, 000 questionnaire sheets (one sheet per farmhouse) were distributed to farmhouses on the floor of the southern Yokote Basin and in the surrounding mountain region, of wihch 1, 991 were returned and analysed. (2) A field reconnaissance of house types and roof materials along a transect, from the basin floor to the surrounding mountains, consisting of fourteen villages located along the Naruse River and its tributary, the Saruhannai River. (3) An intensive survey of some sample villages selected from the abovementioned fourteen villages.
1) Regionality in farmhouse forms as determined from questionnaires and field reconnaissance.
The following typology of house types was used in order to illustrate regionality in farmhouse types (ref. Fig. 2); A : Chumonzukuri, a traditional and peculiar house type with an L-shaped house plan. B : Sugoya, which literally means “straight house”. This type is subdivided into two ; Bo
: the old type with a wide “domaniwa”, the dirt floored hall within the house, and Bn
: the new type lacking this feature. B' : Sugoya with a protruding vestibule. This type is also subdivided into Bo
' and B'n
. C : Miscellaneous.
Both the questionnaires and the counts made by the authors in the fourteen villages indicate considerable regional variations in the percentage of each house type (Figs. 2 and 5). Type A is scarcely seen now on the basin floor, but it is common in the mountainous areas. In contrast, Type B, especially Type Bn
, is seen more frequently on the plain than in the mountains.
In the period until about 1960 Type A was found more frequently everywhere in this area than at present ; even on the plain a considerable proportion of farmhouses (20-30 %) were of this type, and in the mountains the proportion exceeded 50 % (Fig. 3).The distribution of Type A farmhouses in the former period is closely related to the distribution of snowfall ; hence we may consider that house forms of this type are well adapted to snowy conditions.
Attached buildings are commonly few in number ; one or two per farmhouse on average. It is noteworthy that the sagyosha (workshop or barn), the most important farm out-building, is associated with new-type houses (Bn
+C) more frequently than with old-type houses (A+Bo
2) Processes of change in farmhouse forms as determined from an intensive survey in sample villages. An intensive survey was undertaken in three sample villages ; Udekoshi, located on the basin floor, and Kawaguchi and Kamihata in the mountainous area. In this survey, recent changes in farmhouse forms were ascertained, mainly through interviews, for 82 families (20 each in Udekoshi and Kawaguchi and 42 in Kamihata).
The results are summarized as follows ;In Udekoshi Village, (1) Type A has been absent for a long time (perhaps since early in the Sh6wa Period), and Type B'o
was dominant in the early 1950's, (2) the dominant change in recent times has been from old-type farmhouses to new-type ones, and especially to Type B'n
, (3) working and storage space is being relocated from the main house to attached buildings, and especially to newly-constructed workshops, as the number of new-type houses increases, and (4) 80 % of all dwellings today are new-type houses.