View Full Version : Building a traditional-style dojo

26th August 2003, 23:51
Hello, all. These days I'm becoming involved in construction projects, and one that I have in mind is to build a small dojo-style building in as traditional a manner as possible. I've only been to Japan a couple of times and have never seen an old dojo (beside Nen Ryu's in a video), so I am somewhat at a loss for resources. I would be EXTREMELY grateful for any answers to the following questions:

1) Is there a "traditional" dojo style/form, or does dojo style vary according to era, region, budo style, and/or personal preference? I remember reading somewhere that sword dojo are often shaped as a long hall with a wooden floor, but I don't know if that is considered traditional, etc., or if that is merely a regional or temporal preference, if true at all.

2) Has anybody here done this before?

3) Are there any good resources on this subject?

As you can tell, I'm just getting oriented in this project. Any input will be greatly appreciated. Also, for specifics (as specific as things are at this point), the dojo is mainly intended for sword training.

Apologies if this thread ought to be somewhere else. I did some searches (e-budo and web) and came up with surprisingly little.

Many thanks in advance!

Nicholas Lauridsen

27th August 2003, 02:45
Check out this thread:


and Joseph Svinth's article on Bernie Lau (which he mentions in the above thread):


27th August 2003, 03:58
There's a good article by Dave Lowry here ... http://www.blackbeltmag.com/archives/kki/1986/may86/traditions/traditions.html

Here's another in Furyu ... http://www.furyu.com/wayne/Dave'sF/S1Tao1.html

That's all that I have in my link list, hope it helps a little.


Stéphan Thériault
27th August 2003, 04:17
You can go over to Sasuga at:


From the main page go to search. Then scroll down to subject. In the subject list just select "Architechture/Design". There are many titles on traditional Japanese architechture and design in english. Altought probably noting specific on dojo design.

Mike B. Johnson
27th August 2003, 04:29

Are you interested in the physical construction methods or the aesthetics? The reason I ask is that modern building codes may prevent you from replicating a traditional japanese dojo in your location.

If you are considering purely aesthetics you should contacti sensei Toby Threadgill of the Shindo Yoshin Kai. He just recently completed construction of a traditional dojo in the Colorado mountains. From the pictures and description of it by a friend who has visited there, it must really be something to behold. A while back there was a discussion on another board where sensei Threadgill discussed the specifications followed in the Shindo Yoshin Kai. It was avery interesting discussion as they embrace very specific shinto specifications. I believe his teacher Yukiyoshi Takemura was very traditional and a devout follower of Shinto. This evidently contributed greatly to the dojo's construction and overall appearance.



27th August 2003, 14:02
I almost forgot about one of my favorite links (found through Koryu.com's (http://koryu.com) extensive links section (http://koryu.com/links/links.html)):


And regarding Takamura Sensei of Shindo Yoshin Ryu, from all the stories I've heard, I wouldn't call him so much a "devout follower of Shinto" as I would just plain superstitious. I will second that Threadgill Sensei would be a very good reference.

Chuck Clark
27th August 2003, 15:38
Hey Will!

Check out the site for Haiku Houses.

for more modern post and beam 16th century styled Japanese architechture. Bring a very heavy credit line with you!


27th August 2003, 18:15
Mark Jones Sensei of "Aikido of Napa" has a absolutely wonderful dojo built in his backyard. It is surrounded by a Japanese garden. Tall Redwood trees were planted as saplings on the east side, which give it a very cool forest feel on that side. It has to be one of the most beautiful Dojos I've ever visited.

The Dojo has sliding shoji panels that they remove on 2 sides so you work out with the sun and breeze moving through the Dojo. It feels like you are practicing outdoors. A really neat feeling.

Of course, in the damp Napa Valley winters you get a bit cold when the wind blows through. :D

Napa Summers get quite hot so it can be a bit warm during the day. :(

Here is the link to some pictures.


You might want to visit or contact him directly.

Britt Nichols
Suio Ryu Iai Kenpo
Suio Ryu Study Groups of the U.S.A.

27th August 2003, 18:22
Originally posted by Mike B. Johnson
Are you interested in the physical construction methods or the aesthetics? The reason I ask is that modern building codes may prevent you from replicating a traditional japanese dojo in your location.

Good question! I suppose I am interested foremost in the traditional design elements that are also functional (i.e. wooden floors that are somewhat resilient, high ceilings, orientation of the entrance towards shomen, design elements that facilitate teaching and safety), with aesthetics coming a close second.

As far as building codes go, I will certainly research them beforehand, but I am somewhat off the radar in the backwoods (sorry, I'm not in Hollywood right now -- I should have made that clear). None of the buildings up here are up to code, but I see the value of the codes -- hopefully it won't be difficult to strike a good balance between code reqs and traditional design. Many thanks for the heads up.

BTW, the Colorado dojo is very nice!

Thank you,
Nicholas Lauridsen

Tim Atkinson
28th August 2003, 01:07
A great book which shows the construction of a traditionial Japanese dwelling can be found at the link below.
Book on Japanese Construction (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=2WQZ006V1R&isbn=0804814929&itm=15)

As an architect, I can say that the information contained in this volume is of a quality to allow you to build a traditional dwelling.

It has a good section on building history as well, and describes how the proportion and volume of room changes with the intended use.

Great book!

28th August 2003, 23:30
Don't forget the tsukubai in the front, the musha-mado in the walls and wooden kegs (preferrably empty of sake) under the floor.

Wayne Muromoto

29th August 2003, 03:32
Great, I've got a fabulous list going -- many thanks for all the links/books/articles, everyone. Once actual work begins on the dojo, I will definitely post pictures (though it's still a ways off!).

Here's one more question: should the dojo face any direction in particular? Or is this verging into feng shui/geomancy (furisui? I'm not sure what it's called in Japanese)?

Nicholas Lauridsen

Tim Atkinson
29th August 2003, 04:52
I asked similar questions a while ago. I was pointed in the direction of Toby Treadgill. He is a moderator at the bugei board.

A great guy with a lot of knowledge, and happy to share it.

I have found that alot has to do with the ryu. For example Relnick Sensei holds Menkyo in both KSR and SMR, and explained that the side on which the shidachi stands in relation to the shinzen, differs between the two ryu.

There are general rules that are similar though. It seems to be information that would be readily picked up if training in Japan. As it is such "common knowledge" it wouldn't the sort of thing taught. Similar to the fact that we would not have to be told how to use, the belt loops on trousers. Though when the Japanese started wearing western clothes, the belt was still fastened over the trousers low on the hips like an obi.

Hope it helps.

I look forwards to the picts!