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Minka
My Farmhouse in Japan
John Roderick

ISBN 9781568987316
Publication date 11/1/2007
6 x 9 inches (15.2 x 22.9 cm), Hardcover
256 pages, 45 b/w illustrations
Rights: World; Carton qty: 22; (601.0)

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In 1959 journalist John Roderick joined the Tokyo bureau of the Associated Press. There, he befriended a Japanese family, the Takishitas. After musing offhandedly that he would like to one day have his own house in Japan, the family--unbeknownst to John--set out to grant his wish. They found Roderick a 250-year-old minka, or hand-built farmhouse, with a thatched roof and held together entirely by wooden pegs and joinery. It was about to be washed away by flooding and was being offered for only fourteen dollars. Roderick graciously bought the house, but was privately dismayed at the prospect of living in this enormous old relic lacking heating, bathing, plumbing, and proper kitchen facilities. So the minka was dismantled and stored, where Roderick secretly hoped it would stay, as it did for several years.

But Roderick's reverence for natural materials and his appreciation of traditional Japanese and Shinto craftsmanship eventually got the better of him. Before long a team of experienced carpenters were hoisting massive beams, laying wide wooden floors, and attaching the split-bamboo ceiling. In just forty days they rebuilt the house on a hill overlooking Kamakura, the ancient capital of Japan. Working together, they renovated the farmhouse, adding features such as floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors and a modern kitchen, bath, and toilet. From these humble beginnings, Roderick's minka has become internationally known and has hosted such luminaries as President George H. W. Bush, and Senator Hillary Clinton. John Roderick's architectural memoir Minka tells the compelling and often poignant story of how one man fell in love with the people, culture, and ancient building traditions of Japan, and reminds us all about the importance of craftsmanship and the meaning of place and home in the process.


John Roderick jointed the Associated Press in 1937. A foreign correspondent for almost fifty yers, he spent seven months with Communist Leader Mao Tse-tung, covered the Arab-Israeli conflict, and spent years in London, Paris, and French Indochina, in addition to his time covering matters in China and Japan.

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Editorial Reviews


Sentinel & Enterprise:
"The unusual 273-year-old farm house... became a show place visited by the elder George Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the queens of Denmark and Greece, and others."

Farmhouse attracts a variety of visitors, Altoona Mirror:
"love brought back a precious memory of my best days as an Associated Press corespondent in Asia and sent me digging for a 24-year-old album that includes my own first impressions of Rodericks beautiful minka."

Architect's Newspaper:
"Roderick's Minka is a quick read that will charm enthusiasts of Japanese architecture (or fans of whimsical memoirs)"

The Washington Post:
"John (Roderick) was equal part lion and bon vivant. The result was a courageous reporter, elegant writer and marvelous storyteller."

APs famous old China hand pens farmhouse love story, Examiner Independent:
"(Minka) chonicles Rodericks growing love for his restored minka that he at first rejected as a monstrosity."

Dwell:
"Fifty years ago, journalist John Roderick bought a small farmhouse in Japan for $14, then had the whole thing dismantled and put into storage. Minka tells the story of that house's reassembly, its visit by a U.S. president, and Roderick's often-amusing struggles to bridge the cultural divide."

Saginaw News:
"Minka: My Farmhouse in Japan is an architectural look at Japans remaining 17th-century farmhouses, a cultural and historical adventure, a famous foreign corespondents journal and, indeed, a love story."

A Reporter's Love Affair for Farmhouse, Associated Press:
"The book, published in Roderick's 10th decade of life, is also a testament to the possible joys of longevity. It celebrates a life well lived and isan accomplishment that serves as an inspiration for anyone entering advanced age with fear there may be no more of a life's story worthtelling. " — David Briscoe

Avenue Bookstore:
"Architectural memoir, Minka tells the compelling story of how one man fell in love with the people, culture, and ancient building traditions of Japan and reminds us about the importance of craftsmanship and the meaning of place and home in the process."

Azure:
"[A] delicate and detailed architectural memoir with detailed depictions of Japanese craftsmanship in action...Roderick's narrative is spun with a deft, humble style that makes for a joyous read."

Associated Press:
"an architectural look at Japan's remaining 17th-century farmhouses, a cultural and historical adventure, a famous foreign correspondent's journal, and, indeed, a love story...It celebrates a life well lived and is an accomplishment that serves as an inspiration for anyone entering advanced age with fear there may be no more of a life's story worth telling."

Reporters Japanese Farmhouse Attacts Bush & Clinton, Daily Mail:
"Celebrates a life well lived and is an accomplishment that serves as an inspiration for anyone entering advance age with fear that there may be no more of a lifes story worth telling." — David Briscoe



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