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What a real Japanese interior looks like today: What traditions of past eras have survived to the present time
What a real Japanese interior looks like today: What traditions of past eras have survived to the present time

In a traditional Japanese house there are no windows familiar to a European, there are no doors either, furniture is not easy to find, and you have to walk barefoot. And yet, this style of interior decoration remains surprisingly popular and attractive, even for those who do not delve into the philosophy of Japanese Buddhism and simply appreciate the brevity and simplicity of the interior.

Japanese house as a continuation of the surrounding nature

The traditions of building and arranging a Japanese house have been formed since the Heian era, that is, from the end of the 8th to the end of the 12th century. Now any house in the classic Japanese style is called "minka".

Today, a traditional Japanese house can be seen in the countryside

The Japanese house was a lightweight construction made of inexpensive materials: wood, bamboo, clay, straw. Such dwellings were created for themselves by peasants and artisans. The stone was used only for the foundation, and even then not always. In the event of, for example, an earthquake - a frequent misfortune for the Land of the Rising Sun - the house turned out to be relatively safe, and if destroyed it was easy enough to reassemble it. True, such a dwelling could not be called a fortress, but Japanese philosophy did not perceive the desire to isolate itself from the world as correct, recognizing the achievement of harmony between the inner world of a person, his dwelling and what is behind the walls much more important.

Japanese house and Japanese garden - parts of a single whole

The style of the living quarters of the Japanese house - shoin-zukuri - evolved under the influence of the traditions of Buddhist monasteries in the dwellings of the samurai. Such an environment was conducive to creativity and calligraphy - in solitude, in the absence of everything superfluous that could distract from work. The fashion for a minimalist Japanese interior from time to time captures the Western world, as is happening now, when the house is increasingly becoming a place of calm meditative pastime, But the Japanese themselves never left their traditions, despite enjoying all the benefits of progress: they just skillfully built the achievements of civilization into the old principles of organizing their living space.

For a European, a Japanese-style house is something truly exotic

Inside a traditional Japanese house

Minks could be built in different ways - depending on the location, climate, family lifestyle. But there are common features. The floor in the house was earthen, but most of the living space was covered with wooden flooring at a height of about 50 centimeters - this made it possible to avoid dampness and flooding during rains.

This is what the kitchen and utility rooms looked like

To this day, the Japanese have preserved the rule to take off their shoes at the entrance to the house, in the hallway, which is called genkan. The street shoes are then stowed away in the closet. The Japanese generally tend to clean up and hide everything that is possible so as not to overload the eye with numerous things and interior details. Therefore, a Japanese house, despite its modest size, often seems spacious, for the same reason it is easy to keep it impeccably clean.

The role of the walls is performed by sliding partitions - fusuma

Taking off his shoes, the Japanese goes to the residential part of the house. This is a fairly large space, which in its classic form does not have a strict division into rooms. Sliding fusuma partitions are used, which can act as both walls and doors. They are pasted over on both sides with Japanese paper, the same is done with another type of partitions - shoji, which are lattice frames.As a result, the room is filled with soft diffused light - there are no windows in the traditional sense in a Japanese house.

Shoji - grids covered with paper - transmit and diffuse light

The floor is lined with tatami - mats. Their dimensions are the same - 90 by 180 centimeters. It is in the number of such mats that the Japanese measure the area of ​​the house. Such a covering is made of reed, due to which the air in the house is filled with freshness, the mats absorb excess moisture on rainy days and, conversely, saturate the room with it in dry and hot weather. They sit on mats, rest, eat. They even sleep - they just spread the futon mattress, which is rolled up in the morning and put into the closet. This saves space - there is no need to take up space with unnecessary beds during the day.

Futon mattresses over mats

In the cold season, a heating pad is placed in the futon - after all, Japanese houses, as a rule, are not heated. To keep warm, as in the old days, they fill the furo - a wooden vat with very hot water. It is customary for the Japanese to plunge into furo in turn with the whole family (after having washed), the water does not change. After such a procedure, cold and drafts are not felt throughout the evening.

Japanese bath furo

Decorations in a Japanese house

For a long time, screens, which were once borrowed from Chinese culture, protected the Japanese from drafts. Screens, in addition, helped to regulate the lighting in the house, divided the room into zones, and in addition, played an important aesthetic role.

Japanese screen of the 16th century

The functions of the screen were not limited to this. Such portable "walls" protected the house from the penetration of evil spirits. Initially, this piece of furniture was placed at the entrance. Japanese paper was used to connect the doors together. Through the efforts of artists, drawings and even whole landscapes appeared on the screens. An indispensable part of the Japanese dwelling was the tokonoma niche, something close to the red corner in the Russian hut. The first tokonoma appear to have appeared in the 16th century, at the end of the Muromachi period.


At first, Buddhist symbols could have been placed in this niche, and now you can even find a TV in the tokonoma. The main thing is that this is the most beautiful place in the house. The most respected guest is usually seated next to the tokonoma, with his back to it. Inside the tokonoma there is a dais. You cannot go there - unless you need it to move objects located inside a niche, and these objects can be a flower arrangement - ikebana, an incense burner - in general, something the most beautiful and valuable that the owner of the house wants to admire and what he would like to show to your guests. On the wall in the back of the niche is a kakemono - this is a vertically placed scroll, silk or paper, on which a drawing or calligraphic inscription is depicted - a motto, a saying, a poem.

Kakemono scroll in the back of the niche

The Japanese house in its traditional form continues the philosophy of wabi sabi, a worldview that recognizes beauty in the simple and natural. And now the inhabitants of the Land of the Rising Sun observe long-standing traditions, such as the obligatory footwear at the doorstep of the dwelling. In the vast majority of modern Japanese houses and apartments, at least one of the rooms is made in a traditional style.

The interior of the house is an important component and traditional Japanese tea ceremony, which has its own secret meaning.

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