On older buildings around here, I've noticed what I thought were thatched roofs. But today, I learned that they're not thatched, they're cypress bark. How cool is that? (That, if memory serves, is the ceremonial throne building/room, where emperors were traditionally crowned (though not the current emperor, who I gather was crowned in Tokyo).
At the Imperial Palace, there's a model display to show what the roof looks like. And it's pretty amazing! They also use bamboo "nails" to prevent rust. Smart, no?
As you can see, there's a rather thin area, which is the real roof (it's a couple inches thick, so thin is relative), and then a really thick area for an eave type thing. The bark pieces are long and thin, and so from the ground look (to me, anyway) like thatching.
Here's a slightly different angle, where you can see that the cypress bark pieces are all packed evenly in place, so that you have an idea of what looking closely at a roof would look like. A new roof, anyway. The tour guide said that the cypress bark roofs last from 25-30 years, and are pretty labor intensive to replace.
Here's a roof that needs work! You can get an idea of how worn and weathered it is by looking at how uneven the bark has become. It's pretty interesting, isn't it?
If you click and look at the roof in the first picture, you can see that it's in really good shape, and looks relatively new, especially compared to the last picture.
(As always, you can click on an image to make it bigger!)
See, I AM learning cool stuff while I'm here!
Teaching tomorrow, and then major office hours for my students' first essay, due next week.