Thursday, March 26, 2015

Kenko: the ideal house

No. 55

"A house should be built with the summer in mind.  In winter it is possible to live anywhere, but a badly made house is unbearable when it gets hot.

There is nothing cool-looking about deep water; a shallow, flowing stream is far cooler.  When you are reading fine print you will find that a room with sliding doors is lighter than one with hinged shutters.  A room with a high ceiling is cold in winter and dark by lamplight.  People agree that a house with plenty of spare room is attractive to look at and may be put to many different uses."

-- Kenko --
from Essays in Idleness

As I live in Tucson, Arizona, I have to agree with Kenko's first statement.  Conquering the hot summers, especially at night, is most important.  When winter comes, I can always add a sweater if necessary.

Is the perceived difference between deep water and shallow, flowing stream real or psychological?   Perhaps more moisture is lifted into the air by a shallow, flowing stream than by a deep pool and that moisture is what gives the impression of coolness?  I must admit though I would find a shallow, flowing stream more interesting than a deep pool, although a deep pool does have its own attractions. 

Some haiku, remotely appropriate

      For deliciousness
Try fording this rivulet.  .  .
         Sandals in hand one hand
                        -- Buson --
from A Little Treasury of Haiku

 This hot day
         swept away
by the River Mogami
               -- Basho --
from The Sound of Water

At the ancient pond
      a frog plunges into
           the sound of water

                    -- Basho --
from The Sound of Water

 The last haiku is probably Basho's most famous; in fact there's a book titled something like 101 versions of this haiku.  This is my favorite simply because it suggests that the frog plunges, not into the pond, but into the sound of water, the sound of the splash.  Just why this fascinates me, I have no idea.      


  1. Interesting thoughts, Fred. That first haiku by Buson made me feel the cool water on my feet when I read it.

  2. Cheryl,

    Yes, I did the same. The second one doesn't have the same impact as the first, though. More removed from an actual sensory experience.

  3. Ha, I live in Oslo, so a house must be built with the winter in mind.
    And it just snowed again yesterday! Heavily! I'd thought it's over a long time ago and already prepared for spring.

  4. DI,

    One might guess that the weather around Kenko must be closer to Tucson than it is to Oslo.

    I hope your winter ends soon. It's beginning to overlap with our summer.

    1. Thanks. This winter has been rather mild, I think, almost as good as last year. What's the temperature in Tucson now?

    2. Di,

      High 80s and low 90s during the day and mid to high 50s at night.

      It is 7:30 am and the temp is 55. It is supposed to hit 90 today.

      And yours?

    3. That's hot.
      About 4 C degrees here. RealFeel: 3 degrees. 3.37pm. Usually it's very very cold the day before it snows, and quite warm the following day.

  5. Di,

    4 C degrees That's fairly typical winter nighttime temp around here..