What does a traditional Japanese home and decoration look like?
A traditional Japanese house has elements that enchant with their signification, their beauty and their feature. These characteristics directly influence how it relates to the environment. An example is Genkan, that space where everyone who enters the house must leave their shoe.
But there are other curiosities of a Japanese house that can serve as inspiration for your next projects. Want to know what they are? In today's post we separate all amazing features of a japanese house. Follow the rhythm!
The Japanese house: an inspiration that never goes out of style
Japanese architecture enchants with its simplicity and its significant elements. Traditional houses are called Minka (民家), which literally means "people's house". THE style was born in the Edo period and the appearance varies greatly from region to region.
These residences have Japanese-style rooms, called Washitsu (和室). Some elements present in Japanese houses can be used even in environments that do not have the oriental theme in the decoration, such as Shōji, Genkan and Tatami. They are ideal for small spaces or people who want a minimalist design. Below, discover other characteristics of a Japanese house.
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The essential features of a traditional Japanese house
Let's start our list of characteristics of a traditional Japanese house by talking about the material that is unanimous among them: wood.
The Japanese appreciate this material because of several characteristics, such as good thermal comfort and security, as the country is very susceptible to earthquakes. Wood appears in a Japanese house in the coating of cabinets, floors, outdoor spaces, the structure of furniture, coatings and the creation of environments.
The Fusuma (襖) is a type of sliding panel that functions as a door, a partition or a wall in a Japanese house. It is framed in wood and has a layer of paper or fabric on both sides.
Its most common use was for interior walls or the closure of Japanese household cabinets. This material is usually decorated with paintings related to the nature, to animals, mythology or calligraphy.
You may have heard of Japanese houses in paper walls, No ? Well, that's such an interesting aspect that we're going to talk about now. Shōji is one of the most common elements in a traditional Japanese home. It is a panel or a sliding door made with a translucent paper framed in a wooden frame.
When glass did not yet exist, this material was used for the fence, as it allowed sunlight to enter the Japanese house. You might be wondering what is the difference between Shōji and Fusuma. Basically, the second was used more to close the cabinets and the paper was decorated.
On the other hand, Shōji always has a smooth appearance and is used in doors and partitions of Japanese houses. Japanese houses with this paper wall have flexible environments. It is very easy to slide or even remove the interior doors, allowing change environment quickly.
Many people know that one of the most famous traditions in a Japanese home is to do not enter with your shoes on. But do you know where people leave their shoes?
The Genkan (玄関) is a place that is at the entrance of the Japanese house. Located below the main entrance, this is where people usually take off their shoes to move around the Japanese house.
Tradition dictates that you always leave your shoes facing the door. Then put the "suripa", a kind of slipper which must be worn inside the Japanese house. Shoes and slippers simply cannot be used under the Tatami, and it is about him that we will talk about in the next topic.
The Tatami (畳) is the traditional coating of a Japanese house. Used since the Muromachi period, it is a carpet made of a specific plant called tatamigusa, used mainly to cover the floor of washitsu (traditional Japanese rooms).
Its ends are lined with embroidered fabric. The size of a standard tatami is 910mm x 1820mm, but there are other sizes. This piece is so traditional in Japanese homes that it has even become a reference to measure the parts. Yes, in Japan, we measure in Tatami plate.
For example, if someone says that a room in a Japanese house has 8 tatami mats, he can already get a real idea of its size. The tatami used for sports is different from the lining of Japanese houses. Called Judo Tatami (柔道畳), it is more shock resistant and has specific dimensions for martial arts.
The furniture of a Japanese house enchants with its simplicity and beauty, doesn't it? Chabudai (茶ぶ台, ちゃぶだい) is this wooden table with short legs used for meals in Japanese homes.
Its height can vary from 15 to 30 cm (the most modern ones are usually taller). The most commonly used wood is pine, cedar and chestnut, among others typical trees of Japan.
It can have up to 4 formats: circular, oval, square and rectangular. Some are even collapsible, a fine example of creative carpentry. People usually sit around the Chabudai using the Zabuton, a traditional japanese pillow.
Kotatsu est une coffee table with a built-in heater underneath and a thick blanket on top. The idea is that you place your legs or your whole body under the Kotatsu, keeping it warm in the Japanese house.
Since most Japanese houses have little thermal insulation in their structure, Kotatsu has become an attractive option for colder days. This comfortable object found in Japanese homes has its origins in the 14th century and is a kind of modern version of the Iroris, which we will know next.
L'Irori est une sorte de traditional japanese fireplace which is dug into the ground. Below is a hook that hangs from the ceiling and can be used to hang pots or kettles over the fire.
This element is increasingly rare in modern Japanese houses, but it is possible to admire it in historic buildings or old houses.
Did you know that a Japanese house has a space specially reserved for receiving decoration? This is the Tokonoma (床の間), a slightly raised area recessed into the wall.
In this place, the inhabitant of the Japanese house generally places works of art or other objects such as the shodo, the parchment, the bonsai, okimono or ikebana.
L'Engawa est un exterior corridor that runs along the house Japanese, like a balcony. It is a transition zone to the interior area of the Japanese house, as well as protection from the sun and rain.
When Engawa is at a level closer to the interior floor of the Japanese house, he generally uses bamboo and wood in construction. When the height of Engawa is closer to the ground, the materials used are stones, which makes the space a kind of garden.
Ofurô (bath) est un traditional japanese wooden bath. It is much narrower, but much deeper than the Western bathtub. The use of Ofuro dates back to the time of the samurai. When used, the idea is for the person to be submerged in warm water in a fetal position.
According to tradition, this is the ideal position for find peace and energy that were lived in the mother's womb.
Le Sudare est un rideau used in Japanese homes. It is made of horizontal slats of wood, bamboo, rush, straw, among others. In older houses, the ropes are fitted with large iron hooks.
In addition to being beautiful, the Sudare is extremely functional, since it protected Japanese house interior sun, insects and rain. The spaces between the bamboos allow the entry of the wind, leaving your room airy.
A Japanese house without a zabuton is not a real Japanese house. These thin little cushions are used to sit under the tatami, as if it were the chair of a western house. They are generally made with noble fabrics, such as silk, or with their original fabric, cotton.
Ranmas (欄間) are panels located above Shōji or Fusuma. They are designed for let in light and ventilation in the rooms and chambers of the Japanese house.
To create a safe Japanese house, carpenters have developed advanced building techniques which allow you to build large buildings without using nails. Some of these woods are fitted or tied with rope, which creates a unique aesthetic in Japanese homes.
One of the most common techniques in Japanese homes is Wagoya. It is characterized by a wooden structure used under the roof in which the nesting method is used to connect wood, structures and beams.
Roof with eaves
Every traditional Japanese house has a roof edge, known as Masu-Gumi. It's about a roof extension which preserves the wall, avoiding contact with rainwater and sunlight.
The need for eaves in Japanese homes arose from the country's climate. Summer is one of the rainiest seasons in Japan, and due to the heat, people like to open their windows and have good ventilation.
With eaves, residents can protect themselves from the rain and benefit from good thermal comfort. The style of the eaves of Japanese houses varies according to the period of construction.
What is your favorite element of a Japanese house? Share it with us in the comments! Also, if you wish to have a small part of a Japanese house in your home, our wood carvings will give you that touch ofjapanese aesthetic !
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