MATSUE, Shimane Pref. – The nation’s first public school course specializing in traditional Japanese architecture is set to open this year in Shimane Prefecture, according to prefectural officials.
The course, to be established at the Shimane Prefectural Vocational Training Center here, is aimed at teaching the basics of traditional architecture to young people in the hope that some of them will later become “miya daiku,” or carpenters specializing in building and repairing temples and shrines. The prefecture hopes to start advertising the course in April, with a view to actually starting classes in July, the officials said.
The course will accept 10 students in the first year, and tuition will be free. But all applicants to the school must have at least five years’ practical experience.
Students in the new course will spend six months learning the basics of wooden architecture under veteran carpenters and woodcraft professionals in the prefecture, which alone has some 4,800 shrines and temples, including Izumo Taisha Shrine.
Despite the number of buildings requiring attention, however, there are only three such woodcraft experts recognized by the prefecture’s cultural asset preservation association, prompting concerns that those with the necessary knowledge to build and repair traditional buildings will gradually disappear.
“Although it is said that it takes at least 10 years to become a full-fledged miya daiku, we hope the students in the new course will diligently study the basics,” an official at the prefecture’s labor policy division said.
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