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An interesting and creative example of recycling in Japan. Tiled roofs (hongawarabuki) are a distinguishing feature of most traditional Japanese homes, as well as Buddhist temples, Shinto (native religion of Japan) shrines and many other types of old buildings. Kawara is the word the Japanese use to describe roof tiles in general, though there are in fact many styles and types of tiles with regional variations, and a large and specialized vocabulary is used to describe these. The convex marugawara-style (aka ogawara) tile are normally used in conjunction with the concave hiragawara tile to cover the open surface of a roof. When used together, these two types of tiles provide a strong and weather-resistant barrier which easily channels heavy rainfall. Japanese roof tiles are typically very well made and often outlive their intended function protecting structures from the elements. As a result, old roof tiles can sometimes be spotted in Japan being reused for unique and interesting purposes. Old roof tiles are sometimes used to reinforce earthen retaining walls, or stacked one next to another to make garden borders. Roof tiles are also buried vertically along dirt walkways with just the tips exposed a fraction of an inch above the surface to create artistic patterns and to act as paving surfaces. Decorative end caps called onigawara (ogre tiles) look especially nice as accent pieces within the home or on patios and especially when positioned amidst garden foliage.
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