KEY WORD : architecture / general terms
1 The interior or heart of something. The furthermost, innermost or ultimate space in a sequence of spaces. 'The space beyond', for example daidokoro no oku ni shinshitsu ga aru 台所の奥に寝室がある means there is a sleeping room beyond the kitchen. The innermost recesses of a space. For example monooki-no-oku 物置の奥 means the back of a cupboard.

2 The private inner compound and women's quarters of a large-scale warrior residence buke yashiki 武家屋敷, in the Edo period.

3 The rear room at the upper end *kamite 上手 of a building with a *hirairi 平入 structure (i.e. an entrance on the non gabled side). Found in vernacular houses *minka 民家, of the Edo period in parts of Aomori and Nara prefectures and also widely in the Kantou 関東 region. The oku is a formal reception room *zashiki 座敷, equipped with a decorative recess or alcove *tokonoma 床の間, alternatively referred to as *okuzashiki 奥座敷, okunoma 奥の間 or oku-no-dei 奥の出居.

4 In a traditional urban vernacular house *machiya 町家, in the vicinity of Kyoto and Nara, the room at the rear of the house, overlooking the back garden, often adjacent to the earth-floored area *doma 土間 or *tooriniwa 通庭 but divided from it by a partition. The room is a formal reception room with a decorative alcove *tokonoma 床の間 but is also often used as a sleeping room shinshitsu 寝室, for elderly dependents. Also called *okuzashiki 奥座敷.

5 In town houses in Saitama prefecture, especially in the Kawagoe 川越 area, the residential structure at the rear of a shop building. While the shop *mise 店 occupying the street frontage was fireproofed with plaster *misegura 店蔵, the oku, by contrast, was a lightly constructed insubstantial building which could quickly and cheaply be rebuilt if destroyed by fire.

6 In vernacular houses in Aichi, Gifu, Ehime, Kagawa and Ooita prefectures, the room at the rear of the house which was used as a store room, a sleeping room and a dressing room by the master and mistress of the house. Alternatively referred to as *nando 納戸, *choudai 帳台, *heya 部屋 and *nema 寝間. Until the last years of the Edo period this room was dark and enclosed, with only a single entry, usually approached from the kitchen *daidokoro 台所, or from the main living room *hiroma 広間.


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