Top > Activities >Lectures >"How Did Ancient Artisans Stand Pillars and a Central Column Upright?" Mr. Masao Nishizawa and Mr. Shigeru Kubodera


How Did Ancient Artisans Stand Pillars and a Central Column Upright?

Date:Monday, February 25, 2013, 14:00~17:15
Venue:K-222, the Koshien Hall
Mr. Masao Nishizawa (Director, Nishizawa Construction Company)
Mr. Shigeru Kubodera (Director of Historical Research Institute for Architectural Decoration Technology)


Mr. Masao Nishizawa,
Nishizawa construction company representative director

We invited Mr. Masao Nishizawa and Mr. Shinji Kubodera to take part in a two-part lecture series. Mr. Nishizawa explained the method used to stand the central column of a pagoda from the viewpoint of a builder. Mr. Kubodera explained this feat from an academic viewpoint based on archaeological surveys and insights into preservative construction work.

In the first lecture, Mr. Nishizawa described two construction projects aimed at preservation and restoration: the three-storied pagoda of Kongorin-ji Temple and the Taho-to pagoda of Jison-in Temple. The pagoda at Kongorin-ji Temple was built in the Kamakura era. The central column was stood on cross beams of the first-story ceiling. The central column does not stand on the ground. After finishing the second story structure, the bottom of the column was hoisted up with a rope, which was tied to a temporary structure, using pullies. On the other hand, Jison-in Temple, a registered World Heritage site, was built on the starting point of the pilgrimage route to Koyasan. Records show that the pagoda was modified from a three-story pagoda to a Taho-to pagoda during construction work.

In the second lecture, Mr. Kubodera explained the method of standing a column upright based on his archaeological survey. There are holes along the slope in the first section of Namba Palace, which seem helpful for standing the columns up. In the Heijo-kyo To-in Garden, arm structures called udegi were discovered, and these appear to have balanced loads and prevented subsidence. At pillar-standing festivals, we can observe the method using a sliding board called hangi, here the pillar base is slid into a hole. Furthermore , a hole prepared for the central column has been found in the fivestory pagoda of Saisyo-in Temple, where Mr. Kubodera was engaged in his work. This technique was probably instrumental in standing the column upright.

We greatly appreciated the chance to hear these two different viewpoints on this critical architectural issue. It was surely a valuable opportunity for us.


Mr. Shigeru Kubodera,
Director of the Historical Research Institute for Architectural Decoration Technology