This miniature is based on a traditional family farmhouse from the countryside of Chiba, north of Tokyo. As of 1994, only three full-scale houses of this type were still in existence.
In Noto, An Unexplored Corner of Japan, published in 1891, the American astronomer and scholar, Percival Lowell, romantically described the traditional farmhouses he encountered while exploring the Chiba prefecture of Japan:
The very farmhouses looked to have grown where they stood, as indeed the upper part of them had. For from the thatch of their roofs, deep bedded in mud, sprang all manner of plants that made of the eaves gardens in the air.
Artist Shoichi Uchiyama closely follows the old methods of construction, recreating the look of materials such as wood, mud, and straw harvested from the farmer’s own land in a ¼” scale. A typical house had one or two stories and room for several generations of the family. Roughhewn beams were lashed together with rope woven from straw, and the roof was thatched with miscanthus reed and living sod to create magical, green gardens floating above the Japanese landscape.
Read more about the Japanese Family Farmhouse in Minis Magnified Issue no. 17